A few weeks ago a pretty 20-something woman at work quietly asked me a question when everyone else had left the lunch room. “So Jody, have you always been married to the same guy?” There was a note of doubt in her question. That air of doubt and sadness made my heart hurt for her. Most of the women I work with are either divorced or living with a significant other but are not married. I knew the question asker had recently broken up with her boyfriend. I am so glad she asked. I’m also glad that I can answer yes, yes I have and soon it will be 31 1/2 years. Have they all been perfect years? No but we have walked our path together, up and down the hills of life. We’ve made a few wrong turns. We’ve done them together. This is the message I want to share.
Marriage with life-long commitment and love is possible.
I can already hear your rebukes, excuses and denials. “Jody you just don’t know…” You’re right. I don’t know your story, the path you are walking. I’ve been told that I have a “goody-two-shoes” mentality and that I’ve not experienced real life. I’ve been told my expectations are unrealistic. So let me tell you a bit of my background/life experience regarding marriage.
My biological father left my mother while she was pregnant with me. Hers was the first divorce in her family. She was not proud of that fact. A few years later she met a man who loved her and my brother and I. I recently learned she asked Dad to marry her. He accepted. 49 years later they are still married and Dad is caring for Mom as Alzheimers steals her away from us. Dad is committed. We call it a covenant relationship.
My husband and I and his whole family have been intimately involved as one of our family finally revealed her verbal and emotional abuse via her husband. An ugly, bitter, spite-filled divorce followed. These two had been teen sweethearts, a seemingly storybook romance. We all are experiencing how a marriage gone bad not only hurts the husband and wife but the children and extended family as well.
At the same time I got the privilege of watching our daughter find her way through her teen years while holding on to her purity. She met her first love her Senior year of High School and they were married one year following High School. When Cancer stole him from her a few years later she wasn’t sure she could ever love again like she loved her first husband. But sure enough there was another special young man who needed her love as much as she needed his. It’s been 3 years now.
Likewise, I watched as our son dated some in High School but held out from any long term commitments until he met his now wife in college. After years of studying together, playing together, pulling pranks on one another and generally getting to know one another, these best friends married. It’s been 3 years for them as well.
My in-laws have been married for 54 years. They are very open with their life stories. They love each other but maybe even more than that, they like each other. They are friends. They’ve had all the normal ups and downs of life, raising kids and foster kids. Loss of parents, loss of their own health to a certain extent. My father-in-law is full-time caregiver for my mother-in-law. Unlike my mother, her mind is sharp but her body is failing. They are living out their covenant relationship.
My husband was one of 3 young men I thought were really something when I was a teen-ager. I think I was in shock when we started dating. I felt like I was way out of my league. Even with that thought I came to love this man and we made a commitment to live life together. We marked the work divorce out of our dictionary. (really!) My mom had made it perfectly clear to me that divorce is not “right” but it can happen. Years later when tough circumstances brought out the truth of my husband’s unfaithfulness in the early years of our marriage we went back to our original commitment. We will live life together. Truth and commitment wins. We are better for our tough times. We laugh and cry together. We live together. Married life is not always easy but if you are willing to work through whatever life brings you it is good. So you see, I live in this world. I’ve lived the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In the end this is what I want to say to the world:
Marriage with life-long commitment and love is possible. It is possible to have a marriage that lasts a life time.
Won’t you share your story and encourage covenant relationships, marriages that last a lifetime? Share with your kids, your neighbors, your co-workers…who ever comes across your path, sometimes even use words!