Richard Exley Ministries

Forty-two Years and Counting
Posted on June 16, 2008

002_2_00 On June 10th Brenda and I celebrated forty-two years of marriage and along the way we have learned some things. Maybe the most sobering thing we have learned is that marriage isn’t all fun and games. Once the gala wedding and the romantic honeymoon is over the real work of marriage begins. No matter how much you love each other there will be times when you can’t stand each other, times when it’s hard to imagine spending the rest of your life with this person.

I tend to agree with the man who told me that there are only two kinds of marriages:  bad marriages and hard marriages. At first I was offended. I wanted to tell him that Brenda and I had been married more than forty years and that we have a good marriage. Some days I would even call it a great marriage. But then I thought about it and decided he was right. We do have a good marriage but it has been hard work. God gives us each other, the gift of love, and the covenant of marriage, but it up to us to work the soil of our relationship all the days of our lives.

And no matter how hard you work there will be the inevitable conflicts, little hurts and not so little hurts, bitter quarrels and haunting fears.  Pressures too, which pull at you, causing you to drift apart. Silence beneath your words, and loneliness which only those who have known the blessed oneness can imagine. But that’s not the end of the story. With God’s help there will be holy moments too when forgiveness gives birth to intimacy, when the silences and the separation are put behind you, and once again you know who you are and where you belong. She is your only wife. You are her only husband.

In truth, marriage is a lot like life – full of contradictions and conflicts, but for all of that still so blessed. It has its moments – anniversaries and other special days, as well as unscheduled surprises and unexpected kindness, little gestures that set the heart to singing – but, for the most part, it’s more pedestrian. And it’s those mundane details which mold the character of your relationship. Little things, which at first glance seem hardly worth mentioning; yet as the years go by, they become daily rituals.

I mean, who ever speaks of the simple pleasure of coming home to familiar sounds – the hum of the vacuum cleaner, bath water running, conversation from the other room – yet these are the sounds of marriage. And the smells – skin cream and shampoo, clothes fresh from the dryer, furniture polish and coffee brewing. These are the things that stand out in my mind as I think back over the past forty-two years. Time and love have allowed us to become comfortable in our marriage (think comfortable in your own skin) and a good feeling it is.

This is Richard Exley straight from the heart.

PS  “How little the young know of loving. How foolish to think they have a monopoly on such a precious commodity. The old know what loving truly means; the young can only guess.”DSCF4958
     -- Phyllis Valkins

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Category: Marriage