She was only seventeen.
Young. Strong. Determined.
And he was not much older at nineteen. But he was convinced that she was the woman for him.
All he was waiting for was a soft moonlight night and the chance to ask her to be his wife. The one hitch in his plans? That particular night turned out to be cloudy and dark. So with romantic gesture, Dad tied a flashlight to the fence post to shine down on them as he parked his car underneath the beam of light.
Then his proposal of, “Will you be mine?” was answered with a simple, yes.
That was 60 years ago.
Sixty! It’s kind of hard to imagine. It would be like us….times three.
And here they are still loving each other after all these years.
Except Mom doesn’t always recognize Dad as her husband anymore. Alzheimer’s has brought confusion to her mind. She gets mixed-up and wanders. Sometimes she knows him, and sometimes she doesn’t.
I asked Dad if it ever bothers him that she forgets him. Calls him, “That Man”. He just smiled, “No, because I will always remember her.”
He takes care of her fulltime now. Helps her dress, cooks and cleans, and tucks her in at night. Still loving her, still holding hands, and still committed.
So what does it take to enjoy marriage for sixty years? That’s the question I recently asked him. And here’s the answer in Dad’s own words…..
I doubt very much that we would be married today if God had not introduced us to His Son and we became Christians. No, we would not have made 15 years, let alone 60 years on our own.
1) Follow Life’s Manual. We were saved a few years after we were married and then we had Life’s Manual, the Bible. We knew that we were to love one another as God loves us.
2) Become a Great Forgiver. My wife is a great forgiver. Many times over the 60 years of marriage, the words would come from the heart, “Would you forgive me one more time” and she would give me grace and forgive.
3) Don’t Keep Score. We both didn’t keep score of wrongs committed. We would take care of the problems and let the past be the past. We did not dig them up again, we left them buried.
4) Keep Conflict to Yourselves. We were on the same page about most things. We would never fight or argue in front of the children. If we had company, they would never know that we were having a conflict. We could both hide it well and work it out later.
5) Cultivate Togetherness. We were best friends. We teased, joked, played, loved, and helped each other. Vacationed together, hunted, camped, and fished.
6) Stay by His Side. We dreamed together, planned together. My wife would always yield if I wanted to move North, become a missionary, a pastor, home builder. She was always with me by my side in everything we did – encouraging me to go for it.
Did we have some rocky times? You bet we did, but always we came back to Life’s Manual, the Bible, where we would read, Love one another as Christ loved you. Forgive as Christ forgave you. Keep looking forward and let the past be the past. Pray for one another and be kind.
Yes, it was God who kept this marriage together. We give Him the glory.
And the two shall become one flesh, so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mark 10:8-9)
Matthew’s parents came to live with us over 15 years ago. Their lives and love for each other has been a testimony and a blessing to our entire family. They have been a godly example and inspiration to us all. We thank God for you, Dad and Mom! ~ With much love, Lisa
*With special thanks to my talented sister-in-law, Brenda Jacobson, for the photography!
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