Ada — As of today, my son and his fiancé are seven days away from saying “I do” in front a preacher, our combined families, the world in general and the Almighty. It is a big step.
He is deeply in love with her, and vice-versa, but they would not be human if as the day approaches they didn’t arrive at a new level of understanding of just how big a step this is. In a word, it is a life changer.
For my son, that day arrived last week. Before now he has been busy helping with wedding details, planning the honeymoon, and dealing with unrelated but important new responsibilities assumed upon becoming a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. The fact he is stationed in a city over 1,700 miles from the altar only added to the distraction.
But last week it began to sink in. No cold feet, mind you, just the reality of it all. Coincidentally, Friday was his mother’s and my 38th wedding anniversary. He has always acknowledged the day by phone call if he couldn’t make it in person, but this time his voice revealed a new appreciation.
“Thirty-eight years,” he said. “Wow.”
This immediately took me back to when what he is going through now – this heightened sense of reality – dawned on me. At the time, what kept running through my mind as the day approached was “Fifty years is a long time!” Fifty years was the limit of my ability to imagine being married to the same person.
Looking at my own parents, I now know 38 or even 50 years is child’s play compared to their record. Before my father passed away at almost 101, my mother and he had been married 73 years. They took that “Till death do you part” thing seriously.
How do two people do it? Unquestionably, many factors are involved. But one in particular is absolutely essential, as is revealed in a story told by Ravi Zacharias, the great Christian apologist. As a young student, Ravi said his professor made the comment that “Love is hard work.” He said he leaned over to his friend and fellow classmate and whispered, “I don’t agree with that characterization of love!”
“Why don’t you tell him?” his friend whispered back. Ravi said, like a fool, he did. He stood up and said, “Professor, I do not think you are right in saying love is hard work.”
Surprised at the interruption, his professor asked, “Are you married, Mr. Zacharias?”
No,” Ravi admitted.
“Then shut up and sit down!”
And so it is. My parents used to have disagreements all the time, often loudly so. But in the end, after all of it had been expressed and after sufficient time had passed, their contentious episodes always ended in equally loud laughter.
I’m not a marriage councilor, nor would I pretend to be. But from personal experience it seems to me successful love often comes down to a certain kind of work ethic.