Last Wednesday was our 60th wedding anniversary. Our ceremony was in the Central Church in Miami. The following day we left our families in Miami and began our ministry in Largo, Florida.
On Father’s day, fifty years later Ann wrote the following words in a card. “Always, Ann; For nearly fifty years I have signed my letters, notes and cards this way. When I first signed my letter to you, Jack, I had no idea what the word ‘always’ meant. I’m learning, and the learning at times has not been that easy, but I’ve never regretted beginning the journey down the road of ‘always'”.
“My love has changed – it has grown – it has become true love. Even with the bumps along the way and the struggles, my love has never wavered, I knew it was for always.
Thank you for being a great father to our children; a father they respect and a husband I adore. Thank you for loving me. I love you, always, Ann.”
Twenty years ago, I wrote a book entitled, “How to Stay Married and Love Every Minute of it”. It is still available for those who care to read it. The title is a “joke”, ten words which are neither practical nor true. There are times in every marriage that go deep into the heart. There are tears to be shed, frustrations to be felt and questions to be asked, changes to be made and untold joys to be experienced. Love every minute of it – not hardly. It’s just a good idea.
If I were to write in just a few words that special recipe for a successful married life, It would begin with two words “THINGS CHANGE“. This timely concept is necessary to cope with and understand life. In our time there were ‘Five and Ten-cent stores’ where you could really buy things for five and ten cents. For a nickel your could ride a street car, make a phone call, buy a Coke, or buy enough stamps to mail one letter and two post cards. We were before the differences between sexes was discovered and before sex changes; We just did the best we could with what we had. Things have changed in the last 60 years and many have not been for the better. So let’s begin with the idea.
“DIVORCE IS NO OPTION.” We didn’t take our vows only to break them. We didn’t get married to get divorce. If it was single we wanted, we already had it. Marriage was in and divorce was out. Disagreements – yes, divorce “NO“. If divorce is taken off the table then all other matters can be worked out. When divorce is a threat, nothing can be worked out. “Murder“, yes; “Divorce“, no!! Things change!!
Next are three letters, T.L.E. They stand for “TEMPORARILY LOWER EXPECTATIONS“. Weddings are a dreamy thing. “Here comes the bride” and she is the most beautiful woman in the world. His hand awaits hers and the ceremony begins. The honeymoon comes from an Indian legend when honey was mixed with fresh water and they drank it for the space of a new moon. Life is not a honey moon!!
Now is the time to lower expectations and make room for the other person – “Change”. “Well if I had only known” – “you didn’t.” He snores. She’s a bit on the hefty side. I never knew he ‘dips’. On and on it goes for now begins a period of adjustment that never ends . . . on both sides. Just step back – make room – and T.L.E.
“FOR YOU ARE NUMBER ONE IN MY LIFE.” Jesus said, “For this cause shall a man LEAVE father and mother and cleave (glue too) his wife and they twain (two) shall be one flesh. What God has joined together, let not man put asunder (divorce – break apart – separate)” (Matthew 19:6). NO ONE COMES BEFORE THE HUSBAND AND THE WIFE. NO ONE! Husband number one – wife number one. One and one makes one.
“CAUSE I LOVE YOU JUST LIKE YOU ARE!” You don’t have to get thinner or fatter or taller or shorter. You don’t have to change anything. Change or adjustments will come but not under press or threats. This leads you to these letters, Y.D.D.M.N. They stand for “Your dirt’s dirty, mines not”. We are used to ourselves, just the way we are. So what’s this YDDMN? Didn’t you vow, “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health”. I love you just like you are and you NEVER have to change. You’re safe with me!! That’s called “FULL AND COMPLETE ACCEPTANCE!”
If divorce is no option, you’ll never be alone. If you are number one in my life, you never have to change. I love you just like you are. This allows elbow room for both to grow together, and make adjustments when needed, and change that comes by growing up. When these truths are in place you will NEVER MAKE MORAL JUDGMENTS OF EACH OTHER. You never judge number one.
It was Valentine’s day and I was in the States and Ann was far across the seas in Ireland where we lived. I was hurting with loneliness. I couldn’t even watch Royer Rogers without shedding tears and he only kissed horses. So I wrote the following poem and I sent it to Ann.
First there’s loneliness, but who can know it
Without first knowing your love, the wonder of your touch,
The receiving of Oh so very much,
Loneliness is from above..
And then there are tears, but who knows how to shed them,
Those who cared and dared to share the hearts of others,
Perfect love is that which casts out fears,
That’s why the price you pay for loving is your tears.
Last are memories . . .and what is this strange force
That holds the distant past within our very presence
Our reach our grasps.
The warmth of spring within the winter’s storm,
The love that’s found deep within the thorns,
These are girders of the soul, the hope within each heart,
When loneliness, tears and memories,
All share an equal part.
Strange it is to know how many see,
These, my friends as bitter enemies.