Our children are planning a surprise anniversary party for us. A reservation for a shelter at a nearby state park was made months ago, which will supply what is determined, and schedules are adjusted.
The surprising aspect of the party was broken about a month ago when my oldest daughter figured out she and her siblings did not know who to invite. They do not know everyone my wife works with, nor my buddies from the penitentiary, where I was a staff member, not an inmate. Therefore, she had to ruin the surprise and ask us to whom to send invitations.
It is a big year of milestones for Julie and me. By the end of the month, our 40th anniversary shall pass, and by the end of the year, my wife will celebrate birthday No. 60.
I find it fascinating when people discover we are about the celebrate 40 years of marital bliss and say, “Wow. I hope we can be married that long. How did you do it?”
This response is interesting to me because it seems people do not believe their marriage can last a lifetime. I do not know if Julie and I will reach anniversary No. 50, but I think I can safely say, at this point, if we do not make it to 50, it will be because at least one of us has had our funeral.
We married young; she was 19; I was 18. We have never had much money. An example of not having much money – my four children, the youngest is 33, can all remember using a wringer washer. It was that recent.
How did we do it? How could two teenagers end up being married 40-plus years?
First of all, and this cannot be overstated, but the sad thing is most couples have already broken this – wait until marriage before having sex. If you are not a virgin, you can still have a happy marriage, but some things that bring extra happiness will be missing. Knowing, “he or she waited for me.” automatically makes each other special. Also, there are no comparisons in the bedroom. Thoughts like, “Am I as good as the others she or he has been with?” is not an issue. Virgins when married also shows the uniqueness of the love you have for one another. The lack of sleeping around before marriage emphasizes the love you have for each other.
Discuss everything before marriage; make decisions before decisions are needed. It is a long story, but before Julie and I dated, we started writing to each other. We did not attend the same school, but we did see each other every Sunday and Wednesday at church. We would write every day and exchange the letters at church. In those letters, we talked about plans and goals, not knowing we would eventually make them together. We discussed the raising of children, finances, the relationships we had with our families, plus dozens of other topics. Many an argument, years and even decades later was averted because we already knew what each other’s thoughts and had previously decided on a course of action.
Point No. 3 comes directly from the Bible. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”
It is not a sin to be angry, however, how we handle that anger can turn it into sin. In 40 years of marriage, one of us has never slept on the couch with the other in the bed. We would not let a day end with one of us mad at the other. We talked it out, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning, only getting an hour or two sleep before the next day began. Sometimes one of us would have to wait for the other one to cool off a little before a meaningful conversation could start, but we waited, not going to sleep until the situation came to a resolution. I want to note here, because of all the writing, praying and talking we did before marriage, I can count on one hand the number of times in 40 years we had the late night “get it resolved” discussion.
Lastly, marriage is a covenant between three – man, woman and God. Julie and I entered the bond with the mindset that even if the other breaks the promises made to the other, we would keep our side of the bargain. This mindset has made it where both of us have kept our promises – to love, to cherish, until death we do part.
On a personal note, Julie, I love you, and I am more than willing to do another 40.
Preacher Tim Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. Email him at [email protected] Sermons and archived Preacher’s Points may be found at preacherspoint.wordpress.com.