Thirty-five Years of Marriage

Psalm 16:6
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”

Photo by marie kelley photography
[full_width padding=”0px 15px 0px 15px”]We will be celebrating 35 years of marriage. We met when I was 17 years young and fresh out of high school. My first employment opportunity placed me in his setting and ultimately placed him in my heart.

I couldn’t have anticipated our future together for we had little in common but our uncanny ability to communicate on a level that permitted mutual understanding and unconditional acceptance. The unceasing flow of self-revelation, the unbridled exchange of intimate thoughts and feelings provided the fodder for a penetratingly cherished friendship.

These mutually gratifying conversations continued for 10 years until one day it became apparent that the relationship had taken us to a place where friendship blossomed into deep affection and emotional tenderness. The years of openly sharing our hopes and fears, joys and sorrows had enabled us to know one another so intimately that we were able to trust with abandon and audacity.

After several years of marriage while speaking at a church conference, my dear and beloved soul-mate described our relationship by quoting this poem attributed to George Eliot (aka Mary Anne Evans): “Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor to measure words but to pour them out, just as it is, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keeping what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

The quote accurately describes our relationship and represents a vow so consuming that it defies reason and eradicates disbelief. My reluctant heart denied such a love was possible and on occasion I tested the veracity of the words only to find the fortress of this commitment impenetrable. Genesis 2:24 confirms, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The consistent and faithful love of this God-fearing man embodies the heart of God who in Jeremiah 31:3 exults, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

The Apostle Paul encourages mutual transparency and self-revelation in his letter to the church in Corinth. He writes, “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange — I speak as to my children — open wide your hearts also” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13). There were obviously some in the Corinthian church who were unable to master the art of self-disclosure and Paul enlightened them on that fact. And if we are honest, we admit that we can relate with the Corinthians as there are times in our own lives when, for any number of reasons, we feel it necessary to withdraw our affection from one another and put our emotional intimacy on hiatus.

During our 35 years of marriage, there have been times when we have not been able to negotiate the complexities of self-disclosure. We retreat. Our intimacy interrupted by some external force and we default to self-protection and isolation. It is precisely here that we need to thrust ourselves upon our Heavenly Father to renew our Spirit and refresh our sensibilities. We commit ourselves to Jesus Christ, we prayerfully ask for understanding seeking God’s perspective in the matter. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3).

Our love has withstood life’s challenges; the care of aging and infirm parents, personal health issues, and vastly divergent views about financial matters, child-rearing techniques and recreational pursuits. Yet, we remain steadfast in our resolve to commit ourselves to God through prayer and obedience, finding direction, comfort and stability in Christ and His Word. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:5-8).

There have been times that our human frailty has threatened our intimacy with God and with one another, but thanks be to God, as we approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, we have received mercy and found grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Father God, we thank you that the boundary lines have fallen for us in pleasant places. We rejoice that we have stood together through the capriciousness of life, holding firm to one another, enveloped by your unfailing love. We have learned that one may be overpowered, but two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). We live to give you glory! Amen.


Author: Jshafe

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