Things Learned in 40 Years of Marriage

Mark n Chris 40Chris and I recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and it got me thinking. We certainly are different people than the ones that said “I do” 40 years ago. So much has happened, so much has changed. The best part is that our relationship today is better than I ever dreamed it could be. So, I really started thinking; over the years, what have we learned?

First, We learned TO LOVE

I can still remember where I was sitting some 39+ years ago, complaining to God about my new wife. She wasn’t doing exactly what I wanted and I didn’t like having to adjust. That’s when I felt the Holy Spirit break into my complaints and the discussion went something like this.

God: “Who’s idea was this?” And I knew He meant the marriage.
Me: “Well, I think it was your idea that I marry her.” At least I was pretty sure of that.
God: “Then why do you think I picked her for you?”

That question took the conversation in a completely different direction than I was expecting. My mind flashed back to the early Genesis story of Adam and Eve, about two being one, about being partners in life to serve the purpose of God. That’s when it hit me. God sent Chris into my life because I needed to learn how to love her.

That understanding changed my life. It lead to this: God sent Chris into my life, because the shortest distance to the best me, is learning how to love her. I will best fulfill God’s call on my life by learning how to love my spouse. That is the goal of marriage, to teach us to love one person whole-heartedly. Whatever changes are required to do that – those changes are the fastest way to become the best you.

40 years later I’m still learning that. I admit, learning to love her is much easier now, but it still is the shortest route to becoming what God wants me to be.

Second, We learned ABOUT each other

It’s hard to love someone when you don’t know what’s going on inside them. We need to invest in exploring what our partners think, what they want, what they fear and what they hope for. There is so much to learn.

What do they want to be? To do? To enjoy? What are they seeing now? What challenges are they tempted to avoid? How can I come alongside to strengthen them? To encourage them?

It can be easy as time goes on to think that you know everything about someone. But we change, we grow, and who we are and what we want also changes as we grow. Chris and I have made learning about each other a continual pursuit.

But, HOW we learn about each other is also important. It is important to learn with respect, with honor and without criticism and judgement. We learn in order to bless and support – to love.

It is not easy for me to distill 40 years of learning into one short post. So, this conversation will continue in my next post. In the meantime, those of you who are married, what are you learning? Can you share it with us?

3 comments for “Things Learned in 40 Years of Marriage

  1. Keith
    September 3, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Great kickoff to such an important conversation. Thanks for sharing and for sharing that picture. Thanks Tina for your contribution. We can really identify with what you are saying.

    For us, we’ve come through a time where anything that could be shaken was, and when the rubble was cleared, we still had each other’s hearts. That was huge. Now we are learning to love each other in a new season – seeking the Lord for His leading, praying together for strength, direction and health, receiving grace to be both parents with little ones and grandparents, and recognizing we still need time together to build our marriage. We’re not sweating the little details like we use to and we are finding God’s faithfulness a fortress for our hearts.

    Getting old is the pits – the body doesn’t heal as fast, the mind doesn’t always remember, and so on – but getting old with my Bride is a bowl full of cherries!

  2. September 1, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    As our children journey through adolescence and our in laws age and force us to face the realities of the limitations of being 80 plus, Harry and I nurture the gift of tolerance. To cherish the relationships we have rather than focussing on the failures and foibles of others. We have just lived through the weird experience of losing my cousin, his wife and two sons in the plane shot down over Ukraine. It really puts things in perspective. Worrying about the future or resenting the past is really pointless…..enjoy each other every day.

    • Mark McGrath
      Mark McGrath
      September 12, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Tina, Wow, it certainly does seem to be that tragic things that happen to us give us the opportunity to reflect on what is really important. Chris and I went through a season a few years back when we were literally losing someone close to us every 6 months for several years. Three parents, a sibling, a beloved nephew, several very close friends and a few aunts and uncles. What a horrible season. But we found that it was the relational strength, built up over time, that made gaining perspective somewhat easier. In retrospect, we see how the amazing love of God was ministered to us, not only through the love and support of friends, but, in great measure, through our own marriage. Thanks for joining in!

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