how to stay married

Two couples in our church have been married fifty years this fall, and we are having a celebration on October 17, as well we should.

Darryl and Martha Shaw were married on October 15, 1960, and Dave and Barb Burns were married December 10 that same year.

That’s two hundred years of experience between the four of them, and in some ways they have drawn the same conclusion: “You have to be willing to talk things out,” says Dave.

Barb agrees: “I usually have to walk off and cool down, but we always try to settle our arguments.”

Martha was patient with Darryl, he says, “even when I was walking in the devil’s way.” But over the long haul, he also learned “You got to talk things out. You have to be able to compromise.”

It wasn’t easy. “If anyone ever had reason to divorce, she did,” Darryl explains. “Her love was greater than the bad things I was doing.”

The Lord made a difference, however, since they both came to Christ about ten years ago. “These have been the happiest years of my life,” he says.

Martha just beams. “Don’t make me cry,” she says.

And it’s easy to see why. Christ made a difference in Darryl. “He has been more conscious of me, more aware and more funny,” she says. She pauses and continues: “It takes patience and laughter to make a marriage work.”

The right friends help too. They have several life long friends, none of them divorced, celebrating the same milestone this year, including the cousin that brought them together.

Dave and Barb on the other hand joined our church shortly after they were married, both of them accepting Christ that first year. Having devotions together has helped.

“Our favorite verse together is Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’” Barb says. And He has strengthened them, though years of his working on second shift, their caring for aging parents, and griefs unspoken and unknown.

Dave also likes Colossians 3:13, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

And they also found supportive friends, in the church. “Without fellowship with other believers and support when you are down you just can’t make it,” Dave says.

Boundaries help too, Barb notes. “He stays out of my kitchen and I stay out of his workshop,” she says, laughing.

But it a comfortable companionship, one they all say is increasing as time goes on.

Such commitment reflects the grace of God, both couples agree.

“Do we praise him enough?” Dave asks.

“I’m not sure we do. Or can.”

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About wally metts

Wally Metts is the daysman. He is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University and is a pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville, MI. The father of four adult children, he and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees in Michigan. His grandchildren call him Santa.

One Response to “how to stay married”

  1. Beautiful as always, Dr. Metts . . . and particularly meaningful to me . . . Bob & I just reached our 30th anniversary on Tuesday, September 21st. We heartily concur with those golden couples’ principles for marital longevity!

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