On (My Parents) Being Married for 50 Years
This past weekend, my family celebrated the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents. They held a sweet gathering with my siblings where we listened to their original vows transposed from an old recorder.
We also listened to the entire story (I think I had only heard parts before) of how they first met and how God brought them together. It’s always an interesting story to me because they easily could have not been married. And if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t be alive today.
If I had to take a guess as to why my parents are one of the 6-7% of couples who reach this milestone, I’d say it’s because they meant what they said when they took their vows. They truly love each other and even when things have been hard, they choose to love anyway. They committed their marriage to God, and understand that honoring those vows also brings honor to Him.
For better, for worse...
Every couple goes through this, do we not? No marriage exists without times of celebration and difficult times where you want to throw in the towel.
For richer, for poorer...
I would venture to say that we all experience this too. Some of us maybe always have times of plenty and some always have times with less and some experience both extremes. We listened to my parents tell the stories of how God faithfully provided for them time and time again, even when it came down to the last minute of need.
In sickness and in health...
My parents will tell you that this was the place that offered the most challenges. While everyone walks through some level of sickness in their life, chronic illness is something they continue to battle. And while they don’t publicly talk about it, I don’t think anyone who watches them from a distance would ever doubt that my mom’s love and commitment to my dad shows through as he battles MS. And I know if the roles were reversed, my dad would do the same for her.
To love and to cherish...
We hear a lot about love, don't we? Anyone who is in a committed marriage will tell you that they love their spouse, of course. Love is something we know we have to choose even when we don't feel it for our spouse. But love is also a term we also toss around loosely. We love a cup of coffee in the morning, we love a certain food, we love our pets, we even love our face cream or shopping in certain stores.
I’ve seen the way my parents loved each other through the years. They demonstrate it (and always have) in word and deed. So while I’ve never doubted that my parents love each other, as I’ve gotten older and have a family of my own, I’ve come to understand how much they cherish each other. As I was listening to them share their vows, it struck me that perhaps one thing they have that has carried them to 50 years of marriage is that they understand the second part of this vow…to cherish.
While the term love is used loosely, to cherish isn’t something we see people talk about in the same way. Cherish implies a certain level of affection that is different than love. It involves a level of nurturing and protection not afforded by love. It recognizes a tenderness, an idea that if we lose what we cherish we would be lost. Who doesn’t want to know that not only are they loved by their friends or family, but that they are cherished.
When we cherish someone we act as though they are royalty. My dad always called my mom “his queen” and what I didn’t know (until listening this weekend) was that it was part of his vows 50 years ago.
Gary Thomas says this:
Cherishing leads us to a life of spiritual privilege as it can only be sustained by God’s grace. That makes cherishing a demonstration of God’s power and presence. I am not, in any way, diminishing “love” as the main qualifier of a Biblical marriage. Love will always be the backbone of Biblical relationships. But studying cherish, with its special qualities, puts a polish on love, makes it shine, and thus adds a special sparkle to our life and marriage.
I see this level of cherishing in the way they treat each other. In the way they look at each other. In the way they touch each other. There’s something there that’s deeper than love.
I have every confidence that the sacred vows they took will indeed last until “death do us part.”
Thank you, Dad, for cherishing my mom, and showing me what it looks like for a man to love, that I would have confidence in my life that this was possible.
Thank you, Mom, for cherishing my dad, and showing me that love doesn’t look like TV and that real committed love is something you have to give every day and beyond.
Thank you both, for prioritizing each other as a demonstration of the love of God. There is nothing more important that knowing Him and His great love for us! We can love because He first loved us.
What a privilege and joy to celebrate you on your anniversary and always!