My husband leaned over and kissed me Good Morning this morning and immediately wished me happy anniversary. Today we celebrate the covenant we made to each other and before God those 38 – yes thirty eight – years ago! I know, in today’s terms that deserves a badge of some honour!
I asked him to imagine someone posed the question to what we could attribute the longevity of our marriage. Now, believe me, the first ten years were as hard as anyone who has been married that long has experienced! There is no magic formula and every couple is different but I thought I’d share our discussion with you. This is what we both said:
He said: firstly, he remembers hearing a talk many years ago where the speaker spoke about how he makes it a DAILY promise to be faithful to his wife – in what he says, who he looks at, what he looks at and how he behaves. The speaker also said something about going on business trips and actively avoiding any temptation to be unfaithful to his wife (and even then, there were many) from Porn on the hotel channels to partying and getting involved in any way with other women. He knew that if he did it once, he would look forward to the next trip to do it again and get more involved.. That stuck with my then, 16 year old young man-that-i-was-to-marry and he made a promise to himself that he would do the same.
After 38 years of marriage, I can honestly say that I have never mis-trusted or doubted my husband in his fidelity towards me.
The second thing he said is that he knew from the beginning that God would be a part of our lives and home – and he ensured that we practiced our faith.
I said: We have both given each other space. We respect each other’s talents and gifts and we have always affirmed each other’s efforts. We have never been jealous of each other. Our arguments have always ended up in some kind of agreement even if it has been to agree to disagree – that was also respected.
His unconditional and unwavering love for me (and believe me, that’s not easy with my stubborn and complicated female character!) enabled my love for him to develop further into a deep respect for and trust of him. His selflessness and kindness highlighted my selfishness and ugliness so that without him saying anything, I began to check myself, and still do. For me, he walks the talk when it comes to being the Christian husband. His unwavering faith and living it out, bringing God to our dinner table and to our and the children’s bed-times opened our home to God’s grace and gifts of joy and happiness. Yes, we had many sad and unhappy times, of course, but his maturity and God-given strength to pull us all through it, is what saved many a trauma!
God has been good to us – we have never in 38 years, when we’ve gone to bed together – not said our prayers holding hands and kissing each other good night! I believe all things said and no matter how flawed and broken we are (and we all are), the graces received from being faithful to God and practicing our faith (even if unwittingly meaninglessly to start off with), is what strengthened our marriage and helped us to pull through those difficult times.
Our advice: God is in your marriage by virtue of your Sacramental vow to each other; his graces are there for the asking and receiving . All things are possible when you think your marriage is over – don’t forget to draw on Him who blessed your union!
About Marie-Anne te Brake
Happily married to Christo since 1980, mother of 4, and has half a dozen grandchildren! Enthusiastic Catholic, Lay Counselor, Sexuality Educator, Theology of the Body enthusiast and Chairperson of Foundation for the Person and the Family