AN ENDURINGIN RO­MANCE

Activated - - NEWS - By Marie Alvero

I re­cently had the op­por­tu­nity to be around a cou­ple who had 35+ years of marriage un­der their belt. Watch­ing the way they in­ter­acted with each other raised the marriage bar for me.

As we gath­ered to en­joy a meal out­side, Jen came to the serv­ing ta­ble to get a plate for Greg. “Greg loves as­para­gus!” she said, ex­cited to be serv­ing him some­thing he en­joyed.

Later in the evening, Greg brought up Jen’s pas­sion for gar­den­ing. “Jen, tell them about the fab­u­lous veg­etable gar­den you grew last year!”

Over the few days they vis­ited with us, they car­ried on in this way, check- ing on each other, serv­ing each other, laugh­ing to­gether, and thor­oughly en­joy­ing each other. All around were drawn into their cir­cle of warmth and wel­come. I was fas­ci­nated. I had to 1. NLT find out their se­cret. Could my marriage look like that af­ter thirty-some years? Please tell me how!

I fi­nally got a moment alone with Jen. “I can’t help but no­tice,” I said filled with cu­rios­ity, “how happy you and Greg are to­gether. How do you keep your marriage so strong?”

She smiled. “Yes, things are pretty good with us! I can’t tell you any one se­cret to keep­ing a marriage strong and happy, but I can tell you that we started out like most other cou­ples, madly in love, and then dis­ap­pointed when the daily grind of marriage wore away at our hap­pi­ness. We fought and strug­gled for a while. Things weren’t ter­ri­ble, but they weren’t great. We gath­ered some great tips here and there, but”—she paused and put her hand on my shoul­der—“the real break­through came from John 15:13.”

I was fa­mil­iar with that scrip­ture. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

1 This verse usu­ally made me think of sto­ries like Charles Dick­ens’ A Tale of Two Cities, or even Je­sus dy­ing on the cross—not mar­ried love.

She con­tin­ued, “When we de­cided to ap­ply that verse to our marriage, we both looked for ways to give of our­selves, even to sacrifice. It was in the lit­tle things, like mak­ing his fa­vorite meal even if I was tired, him stop­ping at the store for a few items when all he wanted to do was get home. Hold­ing our tongues when we had a nasty come­back.

“It was also in the big­ger things, like let­ting go of some of our per­sonal en­deav­ors in fa­vor of a fam­ily goal, or get­ting be­hind each other’s per­sonal dreams. When you think about it, there are end­less ways to give.”

And so I did think about it, and I saw a lot of room for im­prove­ment in my re­la­tion­ship with my hus­band. It takes ef­fort to make some­one else happy, to show that “greater love.” But I like that the trend of my marriage is chang­ing. Our de­ci­sion to try to give more than we take has set us on a path to deeper love and greater hap­pi­ness.

Marie Alvero is a for­mer mis­sion­ary to Africa and Mex­ico. She cur­rently lives a happy, busy life with her hus­band and chil­dren in Cen­tral Texas, USA.

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