This April, Daphne and I celebrated our 55th Wedding Anniversary. The years have gone so fast and now well into our 70’s we are very aware that obviously our time together is a lot shorter and so we continue to treat every day together as extra special and as a blessing.
In light of this milestone in our lives, I thought that this time I would write something to share from our marriage experiences to hopefully encourage others either in relationships or maybe considering entering into one. From our past pastoral experience in doing pre marriage counselling we have learnt that marriage can involve a myriad of issues such as differences in cultures, individual’s personalities and life experiences both good and not so good and how each couple hopefully accepts one another and works together for the good of their relationship and families.
Our relationship is not perfect, making mistakes and falling short along the way but it has been a work in progress over many wonderful and at times very challenging years. This testimony is our experience and not written to put our expectations on anyone else, but hopefully to be an encouragement
This is our story
Our relationship has never been a competition. We both have our own individual strengths and, weaknesses, and we acknowledge this and as best friends now for over 60 years try to always complement, encourage and support one another in whatever we do both individually and as a couple. Occasionally I’ve been asked “Who is the boss?” I usually say “I just do as I’m told” but seriously the issue has never arisen. We just work things out together and if a decision needs to be made, whoever makes it has the full support of the other. We have learnt to love each other, trust each other implicitly, listen to each other, work together as a team, and treat each other according to God’s Word. We acknowledge that what we have together is a precious gift, with so much of it refined in the trials of life and we are protective of what we have as a couple and we do not treat it lightly.
Being faithful, committed, and remembering the vows we made to each other before God and family at our wedding has brought us many blessings and helped keep us close together. Life has certainly not always been an easy journey but like Jesus said in John 16:33 “ In this world you will have trouble.” There have been times when people have tried to tear us apart or separate us, not seemingly to understand that we like being and doing things together, but God has been with us all those times. Even through times of hardship and times of need, both health wise and financially we have always had each other’s support and love and we have never argued or disputed over money or the lack of it.
There was a period of deep tragedy in our lives when our prayer life was limited to only ‘Help us dear Lord.’ A time when we struggled to read our Bibles and the words were just like ants on the page, hearing nothing from God. Also during this period, we sadly stopped going to church for a number of years, (bad move) feeling like we were just hanging onto God by our finger tips, Looking back we realize that God never left us and he carried us through. As it says in Psalm 18 Verse 6 and 16-19 ‘He heard our cries and brought us out into a spacious place ‘. Although the stresses and pressures were at that particular time intense and lasted a couple of decades, we always stood by each other to support and help. Often it just came down to tears and just holding each other close with no words to say, but knowing we would stick together through thick or thin, being there for each other with God’s love and help.
We have listened to, valued, and respected each other’s opinions but it has never been about us as individuals but us as a team...Us two and Jesus.
Life can get hard but always considering the other person first has brought us through. It’s not always about getting what we want as an individual. Nagging nor threatening using emotional blackmail, or being critical, dominant or controlling has never been part of our relationship. As it says in Isaiah 30:15 : quietness and trust has been our strength
As strange as it may seem to some, we have never fought or argued. Yes we have had differences of opinion but that's ok. . It’s how we have chosen to work through those issues. Not with sulking, tantrums, fighting, arguing or raising our voices at each other, but many times asking ourselves " is this really worth arguing over?", causing each other pain and sorrow when it is not really that important except to get our own selfish way. It is said ‘making up’ after a dispute is wonderful but why waste precious moments being miserable in the first place?
Humour has always been a big part of our relationship. We laugh with each other at our mistakes and I must admit the way we have had each other on has at times caused some people concern. However as sensitive as we can be not to upset people, we enjoy having fun together. There is no need to impress others with what we do or have had in different positions of status, title or roles. We have tried to live our lives quietly and just get on with what needs to be done. Because we know we have God's love and approval, that is all that matters and it’s what He thinks of us that is more important than the opinions of others.
Daily we pray that everyone, especially in our family, can experience God’s amazing love. Doing things God's way, surrendering thoughts and desires to Him, putting others before ourselves and honouring God with finances,.( took some years for us to realize this). Giving Him our time and realizing the incredible love he pours out on us.
We live a simple, practical life and do not want for anything. We are content and there is nothing we can accumulate in this life that will last or bring everlasting happiness except knowing the love of Jesus. We are still learning and still on life's journey, all be it with some different challenges, but still very aware that God has allowed us to have and experience something very special enabling us to go places and work together as a team, being there for one another.
During my time on staff at our last church we were involved in pre marriage counselling. Issues such as pre-nups,( never heard of them when we started out) what’s mine is mine, running back home to parents if things get tough, both paying 50/50 for bills, like shopping and rent, and even to the apparent need to analyse the other person to ascertain their real motives etc, .These have never risen in our relationship nor have we taught them. We have stuck to values we grew up with like faithfulness, trust, sharing, commitment etc. and bringing issues back to Gods Word and what the Bible teaches. Our view is to just treat each other as we want to be treated.(Luke 6:31). With kindness, dignity and respect. Loving each other Jesus way to us is the only answer. Loving God first and loving each other and for us personally always keeping a sense of humour. Just do things God’s way and treat each other with patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and, self control, (Galatians 5:22-23)
I was once told that as God is our Father, that in marriage, that makes God our ‘father in law’ and when we one day stand before Him how will we answer when he asks “How did you treat my daughter or son”?. Gives one something to think about!
So did we get it all right?…certainly not, Did we make mistakes? Probably heaps.. Could we have done things differently and made better choices? Absolutely. I guess we did what we thought best with the skills we had at the time but with God’s grace, wisdom, forgiveness and mercy He brought us through. Thank you Jesus for your amazing love.
There is a song you can watch on You Tube etc that may have suggested before. It’s called Loving God, Loving Each Other by Gaither Vocal Band, Another is God on the Mountain sung by Lynda Randle.
We hope this testimony and these songs encourage you
Malcolm & Daphne