I remember celebrating both sets of my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary’s.  This Thursday, my parents will now celebrate 50 years of marriage.  What a blessing it has been for Mark and I and our kids to witness such strong commitments to marriage in several generations.

Mark and I decided that for today’s Marriage Monday, we would “interview” my parents about how they have invested in their marriage for it to last for 50 years.

Before you start reading, I have to tell you one thing.  My father was very proud when his daughter wrote a book called Is There Really Sex After Kids? As you read through this interview, you’ll understand why.

Now let’s see what we can learn from some marriage pros:

Q. How did you meet?

Mom: Counseling at church camp. When he walked into the room, I remembered him as a student teacher when I was a senior in high school. My first thought, “Oh no, not a week with him.” By the end of the week, I had changed my mind. I found him to have all the traits I had wanted in the man I wanted to marry.

Dad: In the summer of 1957 I volunteered to counsel for a Methodist youth camp in Battle Ground, IN. Mom was in the same staff meeting that Sunday afternoon as we prepared for a week with junior high students. Early that week I noted what a committed Christian and how sweet she was with “her” kids. Then I began stopping by her cabin on the way to lunch and dinner to see if she would walk with me. She played hard to get but did occasionally accompany me. Later that summer we both attended a college-age weekend at the same place as campers.

Q. You were married three years before you had kids. . . What did you do to nurture your marriage in those first three years?

Mom: Working as youth group sponsors, spending time together doing interesting things, traveling, hiking in the Smokey Mountains. Keeping romance very much alive, as we still do.

Dad: Both of us were employed, Mom as a medical secretary and I as a teacher and a part-time farmer. But when we were together after work, we focused on our common interests: the new house, our church responsibilities, our sponsorship of Appalachian Trail camps we conducted, sex, intended pregnancies that did not take, and sex.

Q. After you began your family what did you do to nurture your marriage?

Mom: Your dad was very much ahead of his time. He helped with changing diapers, giving bottles when needed, encouraging me to get involved with evening church activities while he would do evening care for our small children. All of those things give romance a high mark. He still encourages me to take an active role in United Methodist Women, and to travel with friends and family without him.

Dad: We learned to express our love for each other regularly. Touching, hugging, saying “I love you,” became, if not daily, then almost so. As the children grew older, we tried to attend together their various activities. We disagreed with each other, but we did not “fight.” We tried to remember to apologize if our disagreements caused hurt to our spouse. Then there was sex too!

Q. Can you think of a way that God has used marriage to “grow you up?”

Mom: The night we were married, when I arrived at church, I went to the altar and prayed that God would be with us in our marriage. Through the bumps-in-the-road valleys and mountains of our 50 years, I have never doubted that God was with us. We are not “grown up yet;” we are still very much young in heart!

Dad: Quite frankly, I don’t want to grow up. In my mind I still see her as when I first fell in love with her. The mind is still the same; it’s the body that doesn’t always cooperate. When Patsy hurts, I want to hurt too. I enjoy waking up in the morning and reaching to touch her. I love when we hold each other tightly, dressed in our birthday suits. I revel in hearing her say, “I love you” every morning and multiple times a day. I know she likes to hear the same from me.

Q. What words of encouragement would you offer to other couples who want to make their marriage last a lifetime?

Mom: Keep romance alive in your marriage. Your children will do fine for a period of time while you go on a trip or go out to dinner. Make arrangements with family or friends for child care. There is something very special about being in a hotel room with your husband and not worrying about your children. In fact, I still enjoy it!

Dad: I learned a long time ago that at certain times it is best not to say too much. I’ll just say, “Amen” to what she just said. And . . . .there is still sex!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MOM AND DAD!

What about you?  What have you learned from watching other marriages that have lasted a lifetime?

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