I would like to believe that Eric and I will reach a point of no return where we no longer have to guard our relationship from bitterness, communication breakdowns, and divorce; but, the truth is no matter how long God gives us on this planet, there will never be a time when we can just throw open the door and tell life to take its best shot. (How scary would that be?)
Relationships, and connections, must always be guarded.
Precious Older Couples
We have all seen them – those sweet, elderly couples who hold on to each other in Walmart. One afternoon as I was walking to my car, I saw the sweetest older couple walking gingerly towards their car. Each held on to a side of the cart for balance, and like pros they took baby steps to arrive at their destination.
Such a sight warmed my heart. Years together, and their hard work and faithfulness earned them a strong connection and a lasting friendship – at least that’s what I envisioned when I pictured their relationship. ~smile~
Seeing older couples who are still in love after fifty years brings hope to us all. We can stay together. We can make love last! If both people are determined, relationships don’t have to “run their course” and end.
Typically, I don’t look at older couples and think, “Are they on the verge of divorce?” My assumption is that if they have made it this far, they have nothing left to fear. Their marriage is rock solid!
Though we may not see many elderly couples divorcing, that does not mean their relationships are perfect. Some older couples have grown so accustomed to living together that they would not dare venture out on their own; but, they are not friends and they do not communicate well.
Some older couples communicate, but it’s mainly about day-to-day life. They may be content to stay married, but do not share a close friendship.
However, we also run across loving couples who have remained good friends throughout their lives. I think of my great aunt and great uncle. She recently moved into a nursing home, and he comes to see her every chance he gets. He desperately wants to bring her home, but he knows he is not able to care for her as he used to. As far as I know, this couple never owned a television. They loved God and raised their children on hard work and the Bible. And, from what I can tell, they have always been friends. He adores her. Theirs is the kind of relationship we should all aspire to have.
If God gives Eric and me fifty or more years together, I pray we are better friends than than we are now.
The Fourth Quarter
The last quarter of a football game is by far the toughest. The team is tired. The energy and enthusiasm they had in the first half has been replaced with exhaustion and the temptation to relax, give up, or quit. Unless…
Unless the team is determined to find the energy they need and to generate enthusiasm, they will most likely be defeated. Even if they win the game, winning with no heart still feels like defeat. Winning the game is not the only measure of success. Football players want to play with excellence from start to finish. A well-fought defeat feels better than a half-hearted win.
Staying married but having no connection is like winning a game half-heartedly. Sure, by all accounts your marriage is a success story. You share the same domicile and the same last name. But, you and your sweetie don’t want to win that way. Like Eric and myself, you want to play your best from the first day of your marriage to the day God calls one of you home.
Sure, you will fumble. The coach may take you out of the game for a few minutes. You will need water breaks. Somewhere in the middle of the game you may need some coaching to help you keep your chin up. But, deep down inside you desire to give it your all. You want to do what it takes to bust through the opposition and score touchdown after touchdown. And even when others are saying there’s no way you can lose, you want to continue defending your relationship from the adversary. You want to approach this marital game with all your might.
Couples who do this rarely fail. When both people are willing to work as a team, to keep pushing when they are tired, and to continue getting up no matter how many times they fall, they are likely to emerge victorious.
The fourth quarter is often the hardest time, so as you prepare for marriage, don’t just prepare for the first and second quarters. Have a game plan for the end-game. How will you continue to connect when one or both of you are in failing health? What will you do when retirement comes and you have no one to take care of but each other? What happens when you have little energy for hobbies? How will you keep your connection strong in the Fourth Quarter?
Have a game plan. Talk to older couples you respect (or take them out to lunch!) and ask them how they have kept their love alive after so many years. Discuss ways you can continue to grow closer with each passing year!
How do you plan to keep your love alive after thirty, forty, and fifty years of marriage?