This month I shared in the joy of my oldest son’s, Brendan’s, marriage to Kasey — the love of his life.
Their wedding day was beautiful in every way possible. From the physical setting of fragrant white apple blossoms in front of the church and the beautifully decorated interior with lacey bouquets of sunflowers on each pew. To the ceremony rich in Christian tradition and heartfelt vows. To the pastor and attendants who witnessed their marriage.
The day was made even more heartwarming by the presence of our family and friends, some who traveled thousands of miles to join us. I am grateful for their presence at the wedding, reception and dance after it. My family and friends, next to my Catholic Christian faith, are the most important things in my life. Nothing on earth could make me happier than spending time with them at such a blessed event.
As is common at wedding dances, there was one targeted for married couples that highlighted their years together as husband and wife. During that dance, the deejay called out anniversary decades and after each one, the number of couples on the floor dwindled until there was only one left — my husband’s parents who have been married for 65 years.
The question that the deejay asked my in-laws: “How do you stay married for 65 years?” It started me thinking about how I would answer that.
I contemplated both long philosophical answers and short, funny answers, then decided I would answer with a serious concise answer: “Keep the faith.”
Those three words encompass, for me, the key to forging an unbreakable bond with a spouse.
Faith in God will sustain the marriage when times get tough, which they assuredly will. There will be times when one of the spouses becomes ill — sometimes seriously. The death of family members, difficult financial times and many other trying situations will test a marriage.
No, matter how great the challenges, I believe that the faith that God will see them through it will sustain the couple’s marriage.
I know that firsthand. In 2008, when our daughter, Ellen, was 5, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Her doctor bluntly told us that many couples got divorced when their child was seriously ill. Brian and I were determined that would not happen to us and that, with the help of God, we would face Ellen’s illness together.
With His help, we not only made it through Ellen’s illness and subsequent cancer treatments, which lasted more than two years, but came out on the other side as a stronger couple. This July Brian and I will celebrate our 33rd anniversary.
Besides faith in God, I believe it’s key to have faith in people, including oneself, his or her spouse and their children.
Faith in oneself will result in things like knowing that with prayer, the help of God and the skills that He gave you, you will do the best you can and that if you make a mistake, your spouse, who trusts and loves you, will forgive you, and vice versa. Having faith in your spouse means that you trust him or her enough on little things, such as disagreements, and bigger mess ups, such as wrecking the new car, and they won’t leave you.
Faith in children means that you set boundaries, model right from wrong, instill in them your values, then hope that they will make the right choices. When they don’t do one or any of those things, because humans are imperfect, you trust that they will rectify their mistakes and rebound stronger than ever.
If they don’t, then prayer to the perfect One will sustain both parents and children.
As Joshua 1:9 says: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
From my perspective, believing those words is the key to marriages — until death do they part.
Ann Bailey lives on a farmstead near Larimore, N.D., that has been in her family since 1911. You can reach her at 218-779-8093 or email@example.com.
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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