Over time, people change. And sometimes our desire to love them changes too.
Enter the year 1965 into your search engine* and you will come up with fascinating historical accounts from 50 years ago; like advances in space travel, civil rights movements, victories and losses during the war in Vietnam, and famous speeches by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
But I didn’t need a computer, the internet, or even a history book to show me how time shifts and changes individuals and the world around them. I simply needed a guest book from a wedding that took place in 1965.
As I bent down to sign my name in the back of the book, recording my presence at the 50th wedding anniversary party, I paused to look at all the pictures that were carefully selected and pasted into place. The faded photographs were of people in their prime; vibrant, naive and just starting out in life. After scribbling my signature I set off in search of the special couple, Bob and Jan, to congratulate them.
And looking back, I should have thanked them too.
When they said “I do,” they were probably like most everyone on their big day- starry eyed, full of hope and expectations of endless happiness; barely noticing the words of their vows that mentioned hard times, sickness or death.
In their marriage, this couple endured not only the typical adjustments and bumps along the road, but some unexpected road blocks and detours as well.
With the responsibilities of a growing family weighing heavy on his shoulders, Bob, who was a fireman, broke his back while rescuing a woman from a burning house. The recovery was painfully long and required many changes and alterations to their daily living.
One of their children suffered countless bouts of pneumonia in his first years of life. The doctors had no answers, so Jan spent every free moment in exhausting research determined to get him healthy, and she did.
They experienced the extreme joy of welcoming a miracle baby into the family and then the extreme grief of losing him just 33 years later.
Hearing their stories and being with them as they reminisced, I was reminded that even though time changes most everything, we can still have constants. And one of those constants should be our spouse because the covenant of marriage was designed to be ongoing and “until death do you part.”
The vows of a marriage are a million times more powerful than those pinky promises of our childhood. They’re more than warm fuzzies or something enjoyable while the circumstances are right, because our circumstances won’t always be right. But given the correct attention and nurturing, a marriage can thrive, even in the darkest season.
So, my thanks go to Bob and Jan and all the other couples out there who have consistently chosen love over selfishness, commitment over feelings and hard work over apathy.
Marriage may be hard at times, and life is full of disappointments and unexpected turns, but you have proven that love wins, commitment brings security and hard work pays off.
*My personal favorite source for information about 1965 was www.wikipedia.org.