Today Pops and I have been married almost as long as my mother lived.
By today's standards, she had a short life and we have a long marriage.
When I was a reporter for the Lifestyle Department, sometimes I interviewed folks who had long marriages. I think I started talking to couples married 60 years, but then it went up to 70; then 75. Pops and I aren't near that mark yet, but as life expectancy increases, more couples celebrate that many years together.
One thread ran among all the anniversary interviews, no matter the background or religion: "We experienced a few times where we could have divorced, but we stuck it out and overcame our problems."
Over and over these experts on how to make a marriage work repeated the Apostle Paul's advice in Ephesians 4:6 which says, "Don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don't let the sun go down while you're still angry." (NLT) The couples didn't say where they learned this, but I knew and I've tried to put Paul's advice into my life and marriage myself.
Ephesians 4 gives wisdom about how to live. If I could do everything Paul suggests, I'd probably be perfect. But I'm not. I'm still the fiery redhead my husband married and we're both as opinionated as we've always been. We mesh well in many areas, but there are a few that create sparks. Real arguments are seldom won. We both end up with the opinions with which we began.
My mom used to say, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."
When co-workers had a hot discussion in the newsroom about politics or the issue of the day, they'd sometimes ask what I thought. I responded, "Argument never proves anything. All it does is prove who is better at debate."
Sometimes it proves who is the most stubborn, too. Talk to us, and my husband would tell you I'm the stubborn one. I would disagree.
In our marriage, most things we discuss aren't that important. It helps me to admit to myself it's trivial. But there are things hugely important to me. These things aren't debatable and I'm glad my husband and I agree on the important principles of life.
Jesus made a simple power-point for us so we'd know where to put our priorities. Too many of us miss the first point: "Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence" (Matthew 22:36-37 The Message).
Then Jesus added, "Love others as well as you love yourself."
I'm still working on those goals, and I can testify that commitment to God and each other results in success for marriage.