Thursday, August 8, 2013

Still Sailing ~ Happy Anniversary to Us

On this day, 33 years ago, arm-in-arm with a handsome man, I sailed off into the uncharted waters of marriage. The Man had sailed this way before. He knew the highs and the lows, and the heartache and discomfort that comes when a marriage ends in divorce. But it was my maiden voyage, and I wanted—we both wanted—for our union to last a lifetime. We knew the odds were against us, but with hearts full of love, in the sight of God and a handful of witnesses, we made solemn vows to each other.

Speaking of vows, years ago, I stood talking with a man who was on the edge of filing for a divorce from his wife of many years. He said he didn’t care anymore. He was leaving. He said it didn't matter if he lost his friends, his family, his profession, his home. He was through.

I said, “But what about your marriage vows, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, 'til death? Do they mean anything?” With a cynical scowl, he looked at me and said, “Don’t talk to me about marriage vows. They aren’t even in the Bible.”

You could’ve knocked me over with a feather, but I knew then that his mind was made up. Nothing I could say would do any good. That’s why I didn’t bother listing the myriad verses and Scriptures in the Bible about marriage and divorce that would blow his wishful thinking right out of the water. He wanted out and, vow or no vow, he was leaving.

With the divorce rate still above 50% today, it seems the majority of couples feel that way. Marriage vows? Whatever. 

In his brilliant article, "The Evolution of Divorce," writer, W. Bradford Wilcox states that the no-fault divorce law left the power of a marriage contract gutted, "allowing one spouse to dissolve a marriage for any reasonor no reason at all."

And that brings me to my point. In the last 33 years, have I ever wanted to leave my husband, or has he ever wanted to leave me? If you aren't acquainted with my blog or my journey, brace yourself. The answer is, yes on both accounts. 

Like any married couple, The Man and I have experienced our share of stormy seas, stormier than you might believe. Oh, we've had reasons to bail out. Plenty of them. And we’re not proud of the fact that we reached places in years past when we talked about jumping ship and calling it quits. It shames me to this day, but thank God, we didn’t. And thank God for Christian marriage counselors who are trained in helping couples repair and rebuild their marriage. They are proponents of fixing things instead of throwing them away, but it takes two committed people, willing to put aside their pride and do the hard work required.

Repairing a sinking ship is no easy task. Not all marriages survive. Some end up on the rocks, debris scattered, lives broken, people scarred, future generations forced to deal with the consequences of a broken family circle. I shudder to think it could have been us. But in our darkest hours, when it seemed that all might be lost, The Man and I always came back to the vow we made that said, “For better or worse … ‘til death do us part.”

Thirty-three years later, we still mean it. Hallelujah, we’re still in the boat.


Our voyage is documented in photo albums and scrapbooks, lined along the bookshelves in our home. On occasion, we look back and reflect on how far we’ve come. With the turning of each page, we see smiles and happy faces, sharing good times together. They are what we remember, because they far outnumber the heartaches and tears.


I can't say what the future holds. The worst storms may lie ahead, but one thing was settled in the early evening on August 8, 1980: No matter how stormy it may get, we are committed to sailing into the sunset together, for better or worse. The truth is, and I've said it before, when two people decide that nothing but death will separate them, then nothing but death will.


Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.
(Song of Solomon 8:7)


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27 comments:

  1. Happy anniversary. Blessings on your 34th year together.

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  2. Love this post--so inspirational--congratulations and God's blessings for many more years together!

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  3. Happy Anniversary! Your words here ring true in our own marriage. It takes commitment, determination and lots of love to sail these waters! May you two celebrate many more years together.

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  4. Congratulations on 33 years! As a couple who has made it through 38, I know just how difficult it is at times and how much effort it takes. You have spoken such true words here. May the Lord bless you with many more years together! Happy anniversary!

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  5. Dayle,

    What a beautiful post and it relates so much to my personal experience. My husband and I had our 37th anniversary yesterday! Like you, it is only by our committment to each other and the grace of God we are still married today. We have been through the worst things that any marriage should ever have to endure but during that dark time, we were able to find and commit our lives to Jesus... and as you know, when He is present in our lives, we can pretty much get through anything...and we have...and we will continue to.

    I so appreciate you telling your story. It's because of your honesty, humility and grace that I was drawn to your blog the first time I saw it "out there" among so many others. You are quite an inspiration! Happy Anniversary!

    Blessings,
    Debby

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  6. Happy Anniversary - it is something to be proud of because you are so right - it is to easy to give up on marriage now.
    P.S. I love your wedding photo - so 70's :-)

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  7. Happy Anniversary! You've said it very well and it is all so true.

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  8. Happy Anniversary, Dayle! Congratulations on sticking together through thick and thin. I take those marriage vows seriously, and the high divorce rate definitely saddens me. Thanks for sharing your story with us and have a wonderful day!

    Denise at Forest Manor

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  9. Happy Anniversary, dear friend. You eloquently said things that should be read by every couple before they get married. My youngest son just got engaged and I plan to have he and his fiance read this! I love you.

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  10. Wonderful post. Happy Anniversary!

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  11. Happy Anniversary. I agree with you about marriage. David and I got married after only knowing each other two months and this October will be our 37 year anniversary. We have been through alot, but we have done it together.

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  12. This post made me cry, dear sis. I love you and my brother-in-law so much, and you are a great example of what committment really means. And wow on the collage! Lots of work there.

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  13. So well spoken with a pure heart.
    Happy Anniversary

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  14. First of all, congratulations on this special day of celebration.

    I love how you call the "bad times", STORMS.
    Storms come and they go. Just like our troubles.

    Everyday married couples have to get up and choose to love each other.

    I didn't understand that for many years. Now, I do.
    When I get up in the morning, I say, "I love you Tom." Then I serve him coffee with a smile and kiss.
    Love is a decision.



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  15. You almost made me cry - how beautiful and brutally honest. Getting along is easy, but its the hard times that make us what and who we are. Like I tell my husband - I may not always like you but I always love you.

    Happy Anniversary!

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  16. Awwww, Dayle. That was a sweet post. Yes, I think most married couples have moments of doubt whether the marriage will last. But, like you and your Man, if you determine that it WILL last, no matter what, it will.

    Thanks for sharing and for the sweet photo collage, too! Susan

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  17. Well said! So many people seem to choose contentment over commitment but, as you said (and I know), it's the commitment that gets you through the rough spots. The feelings come and go. Congratulations on 33 years of commitment. May God continue to richly bless your marriage.

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  18. Wow! What an incredible collage of photos of you two! Congrats, and I hope you have many more years of love. I know how hard it is to keep a marriage going, been doing it for 35 years now! Kit

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  19. Happy Anniversary. Love the collage. And I agree with working it out and staying true to your vows. We have been married 51 years come Sept. 1. Our marriage has had its ups and downs, but as a whole( after we both grew up)is has been worth it. Wishing you two many more years of wedded bliss.

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  20. Happy Anniversary to you and your man. I appreciate what you have written, it's so true. Without that commitment where would any of our marriages be? I used to look at people who had been married for over twenty years and think that they must have it pretty easy now, after all they know each other inside and out don't they? Honestly, I think it gets harder with the years. Sometimes, I know I expect more from my hubby and have less tolerance for many things he does, it's probably menopause that has brought that on right now, but I have learned a thing or two having been married almost 23 years, but I haven't learned enough yet. But, I too made a commitment to my hubby "for better or worse". I meant it then and I mean it still.
    Hugs, Cindy

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  21. Happy Anniversary! A very open and honest post.

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  22. Hi Dayle! Aw...happy anniversary. You really conquered that man, didn't you! LOL! Love the pictures you shared too. What great love you must have had for each other. It's so inspiring :)

    Enjoy your life together, it's such a gift.
    Ceil

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  23. A huge happy anniversary to both of you. Your love for each other and 'vows' that have lasted are an example that marriage can be a forever thing. Way to go!!!

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  24. Congratulations to you and your husband!!

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  25. There is something so beautiful and true about commitment. Congratulations and here's to many more years.

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  26. Oh Happy Anniversary!! I am late getting here, but my best wishes are fresh and new. I love this post, and I stand with you as one who has had to patch some sails a time or two, but who knows that this man is the man that God chose specifically for me.

    Who else would put up with me?

    HAPPY 33 Years!!

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  27. Blessings on your years together and for many more joyful years ahead. My dh and I are married 41 years and counting, we are still sweethearts.

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Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle