When I was a teenager who knew everything, adults who seemed ancient to me at age 55 or 60 (I know. Crazy, huh?) kept talking about how marriage was. When I knew everything I wondered why these people stayed married then. After all – if it’s so hard, just make it easy and don’t stay married. Go get a life that’s easy. That’s what I thought when I knew everything.
After 46 years of marriage, and well over the age of 60, and now that I don’t know everything, there are a few things I know for sure.
Marriage is hard work. It’s the hardest relationship you will ever have and it’s the most valuable and most rewarding. I can tell you after 46 years there were many exit ramps that looked pretty enticing. They were all lit up and looked like a lot more fun than the ordinary highway I was on with Tim Anderson – the stable, sensible, solid adult. I can’t prove it, but on Tim’s route, he probably saw some amazing exit ramps himself that would have taken him in the opposite direction from me – the one who could never make up her mind, had a new job for every season, and was always, and I do mean always late. “But I use all my minutes,” I complained. “Where is the good in getting any place early?”
If you are married or thinking of getting married, expect hard work. Expect more compromise than you ever imagined. Expect to be more flexible than the most agile yoga instructor. Expect to disagree and expect that sometimes your disagreements will break the sound barrier. Stay – stay the course – because it’s worth it. When I was in my early 20s Ruth Graham, Billy Graham’s wife, was asked if she had ever considered divorce. “No, no I never did,” she said. “Murder a few times, but never divorce.” I know. I laughed too. But they were lovingly married into their 90s. Marriage is hard work.
There is nothing better now than spending an absolutely boring night at home or going out with friends we’ve had for nearly a lifetime. One of us brings up a thought that just moments before the other had in their mind. How does that happen? We share the same faith and love the same God. When our family comes to visit, we get to enjoy time together as one collective family. We wanted this for our family from the moment we said, I do. I know this luxury is one that many of my friends don’t have. Life is never perfect. We have been through deep sadness, near death illnesses, and financial hardship. We got through them, not because of who we are, but because God planted love in our hearts and we worked hard, still work hard, to cultivate forgiveness, acceptance, empathy, and understanding. The joy outweighs everything else and it’s cumulative.
I love you, Tim. Thank you for loving me and sharing this adventure called marriage with me for 46 years (and counting). The 46 gorgeous flowers are truly touching, but even if I had none of them and all of you, it would be worth it.