Seriously. We Can Stay Married.

“Will you take a picture?” I asked the young hotel clerk. “We’re celebrating our 42nd anniversary.”

Summoning a be-nice-to-the-old-people smile, he took one shot before escaping.

My husband is photogenic, but saying “cheese” automatically signals my eyes to close and my teeth to grin like a horse’s.

Had this clerk captured a decent image?

Well, put up a plaque! My eyes were open. Natural smiles lit our faces. The lobby’s glowing fireplace behind us exuded a lovely halo effect.

However …

My middle looked as if I’d swallowed the pool’s life preserver. “I must have put on a little weight this Christmas.”

My husband glanced at the photo and said …

Nothing.

This was the mark of a long-married man. A husband who answered, “Well, 30 dozen Christmas cookies will do it to ya,” would have died young.

From the beginning, Steve has proved exceptionally wise. As a newlywed, only once did he say, “Where’s the five dollars we had yesterday?”, “My mother doesn’t do it that way,” and “You know I don’t like my underwear dyed pink, right?”

However, I deserve credit, too. When he wanted his brown and black socks placed in separate drawers, toes pointing the same direction, I considered dyeing them all pink. Color problem solved, and they would match the underwear.

But I didn’t.

When he tap-tap-tappity-tapped research papers all night on his manual typewriter in our one-room apartment, I didn’t sign him up for a semester overseas. Or on Mars.

Instead, we learned together.

We discovered that no couple with a six-inch difference in leg length should ever, ever attempt couples’ jogging. That if one partner is lugging groceries to a third-story apartment, the other shouldn’t drop onto a sofa for a nap. That peanut butter and love sandwiches taste really good.

We learned that people could stay married.

Even if one partner orders healthy fish at a restaurant, and the other craves fried chicken.

Even if spouses share identical body temperatures only when one wears a space suit.

Even if one scrapes every ice crystal from the car (including tires), while the other thinks driving an igloo is fun.

People can stay married.

Even if their children take after the other’s side of the family … and produce flocks of grandchildren who do likewise.

Complications? Sure, but dozens of peanut butter and love sandwiches, eaten together, taste better than ever. And steak with candlelight, just he and me, isn’t bad, either.

Steve and I should have shared a few seasoned insights with that young clerk. Because he may someday learn—the oh-so-hard way—that his wife prefers her photos taken from the neck up.

What helpful, hard-earned hint can you share that helped you stay married?

20 thoughts on “Seriously. We Can Stay Married.

  1. Hope

    This is great, Rachel! You always make me laugh! One thing that has proven to help us to not only live together, but to live together peacefully, is that we agreed even before we got married that “different” is not “wrong.” We choose to allow each other to be different without accusing each other of being wrong. Sometimes we peacefully tolerate the differences . . . and sometimes we celebrate them! 🙂

    Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      How true, Hope! Occasionally, even after 42 years, we wonder if we married into a different species. But God never intended for us to be bored in marriage!

      Thanks for your comment, and blessings on you and your hubby 🙂

      Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      Thanks, Ann. While we’ve lived through both seasons of wedded bliss and wedded stress, we’re glad we’re together.

      Wow, 42 years! Seems like we all just graduated yesterday, right?

      Blessings on you and your family this New Year, and thanks for your comment. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Pam Oglesbee

    You both are blessed to have weathered storms and enjoyed the sunshine. God looks down and is pleased when we say “I do” forever till death us do part but only for awhile. It’s a choice we make and by God’s grace we stand by. I’m thankful as well to be married to your brother who sometimes reminds me of a “saint” (for putting up with my drama) but just a glimpse here and there as he’s as human as I am. I can’t imagine life with any other man. God bless you dear sis…hope to connect soon. Love you.

    Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      Yes, Pam, hasn’t God seen us all through wild, wonderful times, and wild, not-so-wonderful times! You still think Nate is a saint, after all these years? You’re definitely still in love 🙂 And I am, too.

      May the Lord grant you two some green pastures this New Year! And I hope we can get together soon, too. Hugs.

      Reply
  3. Norma Hull

    One of my favorite things to say to Herb…My side of the world is not dying to meet your side…..being different most likely is the glue that keeps people together..might call it super glue….

    Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      Hahaha, I love your different-side-of-the-world quote! And yes, thank God for His super-glue!

      Blessings on you and your family this New Year, Norma.

      Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      Congratulations on your forgiving nature, Jennifer–and that you married someone of similar grace 🙂 Forgiveness is something I was really short on before I got married. Not that I’m an expert now, but I’m learning.

      How God must snicker behind His hands when we act as if we know everything about relationships, including marriage. Fortunately, He’s very forgiving, too 🙂

      Thanks for your comment, Jennifer, and a blessed New Year to you and your hubby and family!

      Reply
  4. Janet McHenry

    Loved this, Rachael! There was a moment many years ago (we’ve hit #43 now) when I found myself staring at the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage I had typed–just to see what it would look like, you know. And I remember praying, God just give me one good reason to stay in this marriage. And He reminded me that Craig was a great father. So I ripped that petition up and determined to see more of the good in my husband than the faults that were overwhelming my vision.

    Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      Whoa, Janet, what a difference your choice made–in your life, your husband’s, and your kids’! How wonderful that when you went to Love Himself with your question, He gave you an awesome answer! Whether the Petitions for Dissolution of Marriage we type up are material or mental, we should do exactly what you did: shred and toss.

      Maybe we who have traveled awhile in marriage can somehow communicate that the love we harvest in later years is SO worth all the earlier struggles. More in love at 60 than at 20? Yep.

      Blessings on you and Craig and your family! I’m sure your comments have encouraged more than one sick-of-it-all spouse.

      Reply
  5. Michele Whitman

    We learned very early on to depend on each other and not run to parents for any problems. It would have been very hard to do that because we left Louisiana for north Idaho exactly 7 days after we married. He had traveled his whole life. I was a homebody. Adjustments were many. After 36 years, I love him more today than I did all those years ago. Congratulations to you and Steve! New Year Blessings to you and your family. ❤

    Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      Wow, Michele, I didn’t realize that you started a new marriage a couple of thousand miles away from your folks! And so young. Thanks be to God that you two stuck together, worked it out, and now reap the rewards of a seasoned marriage.

      New Year’s blessings on you and your family, too! Hope to see you when I visit Dad sometime this winter. Hugs!

      Reply
  6. Becky Melby

    30-plus years into our marriage, a friend offered a wise bit of counsel in four little words: “Give him a pass.” It’s helped me shut my mouth so many times and remember I’m married to a basically wonderful guy who occasionally has clueless moments. Just like me.

    Thank you again, Rachael, for life lessons frosted with laughter!

    Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      Glad my little piece could give you some grins, Becky 🙂 What an amazing revelation encapsulated in such small, simple words! Maybe it should be included on every wedding card: “Give him/her a pass.” Because we all, regardless of noble intentions, are so clueless 🙂

      Thanks for your comment, and may the Lord continue to bless you and Bill and your family!

      Reply
  7. Deborah Raney

    What a wonderful view of marriage! We’re at 42 years as well, and I second so many of the things you said. About 20 years in, after seeing some dear friends’ marriage disintegrate because they were always keeping score (who did the dishes last, who changed the last diaper, whose turn was it to fill the car with gas?) we determined to “keep score” a different way: How can I bless him? What could I do to help her? When should I make his favorite meal? What would really make her smile? It’s no surprise that with that kind of scorekeeping, we’re both winners!

    Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      What an excellent, helpful hint for all of us, Deborah! The “keeping score” method you and your hubby use reminds me of Christ’s: rather than keeping close track of my faults, He, who is Love, is out to bless my socks off! Which makes me want to do the same. …

      Thanks for your comment, and may the Lord pile more blessings on you and your family this New Year!

      Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      So glad I could give you a smile, Angie! You and T.R. have taught me many new lessons about love. Blessings on you both and your wonderful family this New Year!

      Reply

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