Answering the Ultimate Marriage Question at a Wedding

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The day after my dad and I returned from our South Carolina adventure, Crystal and I went to a wedding at our church. A young couple tied the knot. The young woman was roughly Lisa’s age (our youngest daughter – early twenties). We had known her and her family since we had been in the church. The young man had also attended our church for at least a couple of years. While we never really got to know him, he was obviously a nice guy and a fun loving character. During the ceremony, the groomsmen did a bit about not being able to find the rings, and before he kissed the bride the groom gave a big smile and thumbs up to the audience. I have to admit to being a little jealous. Why didn’t I think of that for our wedding?  Oh yes, because Crystal would have killed me.

The reception was held in a local motel banquet hall. There was barely enough room for everyone to sit.  We arrived early; however, tables were already taken. We sat at an open table with one other man who we didn’t know. Soon though, several others joined us. They were friends and more distant relatives of the groom. One was a new mother with a beautiful nine month old baby girl. This child was full of life and quickly became the entertainment for our table. What would she eat and who would she allow to hold her. The answer is anything and anybody. She was obviously used to being the center of attention.

As the evening rolled on we feasted on chicken and burgers with all of the sides and fixings. There were also these really good looking meat balls. I went up several times trying to obtain one. There must have been something magical about them. No sooner did a tray appear, than several people passed by, each with a pile on their plates, and they were gone again.

As time passed and the cake was cut and the groom went under the dress for the garter (I thought he would never come up for air), we started to talk. One of the young women at our table was a beautiful twenty-five year old with dark skin, brown eyes, and a smile that lit up the room. She asked Crystal and me the casual question ‘how long have you two been married’? When we responded 36 years she appeared shocked. I was sure her shock was merely a reflection of my youthful vim and vigor. Crystal also has always looked younger than her age. However, the next words out of her mouth corrected my misconception. She asked the fatal and ultimate marriage question, ‘what’s your secret’? I then figured out that she was referring to our marriage’s longevity and not my youthful good looks (or Crystal’s). I don’t think anyone had ever asked me that question before. Here Crystal and I had written a whole memoir (yet to be published) based on the subject of several long marriages, and when confronted I had no answer. Of course, that’s why I have Crystal. She can talk at length about almost any subject without the least provocation or planning. As I sat there thinking, Crystal rooted out additional information. Apparently the girl had been in an on-again/off again relationship for some time. They would fight, he would threaten to leave, and then they would make up. It seemed like she was ultimately asking for us to make a decision that we had no business making, or maybe to help justify one she had already made, but couldn’t act on. Crystal started to talk about our relationship, how we met, and all we had been through. I was able to add a few platitudes about the importance of communication and working on your marriage. Over all I think our answer was quite sufficient considering the short duration of our relationship with the young woman.

Since that time however, having sufficient time to reflect, there might have been some better answers to the question about the secret to long marriage. First, to answer her real question about what to do with the guy…Dump him! If he is threatening to leave now, how can you count on him when you are stuck and the chips are really down? Marriage requires continual maintenance from both parties and requires a lot of hard work and commitment. I firmly believe that not everyone should be married. When considering a lifelong commitment to an individual, and the answer to the ultimate question about the secret to a long successful marriage, consider the following. Even Jesus acknowledged that, “in this life there will be tribulation”. That means you will go through trouble no matter what. The key when considering a spouse is, stop picturing the wedding or the honeymoon, and start picturing stress and problems. They will happen. Will you get through them better on your own or with the help of your intended? Being stuck in a bad marriage is always worse than being independent. Ask anyone who’s in a bad marriage or divorced.

So the next time someone asks for our secret to being happily married for such a long time, my answer will start with, we picked the right partners. If they ask, ‘how did we do that?’ I will probably let Crystal answer, while I think about it.

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Fun at Hilton Head South Carolina

Category: Suitable Mate

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