By Bruce Stambaugh
Where do you begin to share about being married to the same person for four decades? After all, my wife and I have been through a lot together during those 40 years.
Perhaps the best place to start is at the beginning. And what a beginning it was.
Crazy as it sounds, nine days after we met we were engaged, although we did wait a month to make it public. We didn’t want people to think we were totally nuts. We were married nine months later. When our two children were old enough to understand, we advised them against using our expeditious courtship as a model to matrimony.
I can remember our wedding day as if it were yesterday. I was so scared that I didn’t even notice that the farm field next to the church had been sprayed with liquid manure that afternoon.
Before the receiving line had formed, I got a taste of what married life really would be like. I accidentally stepped on the train of my wife’s wedding dress, and immediately had her finger in my face. I think that’s when I started to smell the manure.
Our son once asked me what was the secret to the success of our marriage. I simply told him that his mother and I have had no secrets between us. What happens happens. Good or bad, helpful or harmful, “for richer or for poorer,” it’s all out there.
Like most marriages, it hasn’t always been pretty or blissful. No marriage is perfect, including ours. Sure, we air things out, but in so doing try to always maintain our love, respect and admiration for one another. We may have raised our voices to one another from time to time, but never a hand.
We haven’t come this far together on our own either. Family and friends have graciously helped us along the way. Our parents were excellent models of wedded commitment.
From them we learned not only to serve others, but to also enjoy each opportunity that would come along. We try our best to humbly help wherever and whenever we can.
Another plus for us is that Neva and I have a lot in common. We love to travel, enjoy quietness, sunsets, nature, and sharing a meal with guests. Hospitality is one of Neva’s greatest gifts.
Of course, we each do our own things, too. She reads. I write. She quilts. I bird.
That might be another element that cemented our marital longevity. We wisely allow each other our own space and time, without a hint of jealousy or suspicion. If you truly love someone, trust is everything. Break it, and you find yourself back at square one or worse.
For me, the best part of being married for 40 years is just that. We have been married for 40 years. Our marriage has been an investment in one another, our wonderful children and their spouses, our grandchildren, our families, the community, friends, and our church family. We have been blessed by their contributions to us, too.
Where do you end sharing about being married to the same person for 40 years? For that answer, it’s probably best to go back to the beginning, again: “Until death do us part.”