What Are the Secrets for a Lasting Marriage?

Is lifelong marriage still possible? Couples married 50 years or more share advice for your marriage.

In an age of widespread divorce, it is becoming less and less common for marriages to last a half of a century. Between 2006 and 2008, Mary Larmoyeux talked with some couples who had reached this milestone.

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Lifelong marriages

Bill and Jean Barber: "We’ve been through so much over the years—good and bad."

Jerry and Mary Ann Bell: "The only way we could work it out was to let the Lord be the One in control."

Nelda and Glen Davenport: "What did I think marriage would be like? Well, I never really gave it too much thought."

Walter and Hazel Douglas: "Marriage has been a lot of fun."

Bill and Joan Fortin: "If God could forgive me of all my sins, who am I not to forgive my husband?"

Joseph and Mattie Foy: "You don’t get mad or critical because everyone has a way of their own."

Richard and Mary Jane Long: "As we draw closer to God, we draw closer to each other."

Jack and Jody May: "She was worth giving up a football scholarship."

Charles and Betty Powell: "Getting Married for me [Betty] was a means of getting away from home. My father was an alcoholic and he made it really rough on us."

Paul and Mona Sproull: "I didn't know how Paul could love God when he didn't even know how to love me."

 

Bill and Jean Barber: "We've been through so much over the years—good and bad."

The Barbers, of San Marcos, Texas, have been married for 50 years.

Bill: Jean and I had been married for about five years when life just caved in on us. We were having serious financial problems and I felt like I had let down my “Queen of the Hill.” One day, I sat down and wrote my wife (the cutest girl I ever knew) a note. With tears in my eyes, I said that we probably should call it quits. I thought I was a total failure, and I just didn’t know what to do.

Bill and Jean Barber on their wedding day

But instead of giving up, I made one of the wisest decisions in my life: I wadded up the note and tossed it into the trashcan. Jean didn’t even know about it until a few weeks ago—right before our fiftieth anniversary. How different my life would have been without my best friend! 

“Hang on,” has my life’s motto, and I’ve learned that you can’t solve a problem all at once. But you can solve it a little at a time—with God’s help. 

Jean: The thought of divorce never crossed my mind. I come from an old pioneer family and I guess I’ve always known that there would be some battles to fight in life. Every marriage has its scars, and we’ve been through so much over the years—good and bad.   And Bill and I have learned that it takes two good forgivers to make one happy marriage.  

I married Bill because he made me laugh. He just made life more fun … more enjoyable and uplifting. And he won’t give up on anything. He came to college on a basketball scholarship when he was just 16 years old. After two years he was dropped from the scholarship because he wasn’t tall enough. So, he went into the Army and later went back to college—he always finished what he started.  Bill and Jean Barber

Bill: A few years into our marriage I started selling real estate. Things were not going so well, and I was fired one afternoon. The following day the same company offered me a job coordinating closing papers with title companies. I accepted the position and went back to the basics. I learned the real estate business from the bottom up. 

Jean: This ended up being a great blessing. Later, Bill again tried his hand at selling properties. He not only became the top salesperson, but also the president of the real estate board. And, he became one of the top real estate appraisers in the entire country—testifying in the courts of five states. 

A couple of years ago, Bill’s positive attitude really helped. He was backed over by a pickup truck and lived to tell about it. Bill made jokes to the doctor in the emergency room and has kept that sense of humor that whole time. That has helped me, as a caretaker, to face each day and the things I have to do for him. He has lots of friends and they love to be around him. 

Bill and I have learned that God has a plan for our lives, and when we realize that He’s in control of all circumstances, it has a calming effect.  

Marriage secrets from the Barbers:

  • Hang on; don’t give up.
  • A happy marriage is made up of two good forgivers.
  • Solve a big problem a little at a time.
  • When you think you’re a failure, go back to the basics.
  • Keep smiling. 

 

Jerry and Mary Ann Bell: "The only way we could work it out was to let the Lord be the One in control."

The Bells, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, celebrated their 53rd anniversary on February 21, 2006.

Mary Ann: Not too long ago, we had a major issue that we had to work through in our marriage—and we are in our late 70s! The only way we could work it out was to let the Lord be the One in control.

Jerry and Mary Ann Bell on their wedding dayJerry was working three days a week at a local ministry and I thought that he should cut his hours. Although he was looking very tired, he didn’t understand my concerns. While I was really struggling with Jerry being gone so much, he was determined that he was not going to cut his hours.

Jerry: Mary Ann and I prayed about my work hours, and quite honestly we argued some about it. We’ve found that when we pray about disagreements, God will reveal His will in some way. When we pray, there enters a willingness to let God be the center—a realization that this is His marriage and His home and His house. That we are serving Him.  

Mary Ann: Often I start out wanting my way, and I usually don’t get an answer from God in the way that I want it to be. But if I pray that God will bring everything together, and praise the Lord for what He’s going to do in the situation, it makes a big difference. 

Jerry: The world we live in says that everything will be instant. But I think that God has a process that He wants to bring us through. We’re not always aware of it, and we can’t always see that process. But He sees it.  Jerry and Mary Ann Bell

When Mary Ann and I couldn’t agree on whether or not I should cut my hours at work, we compromised. I agreed to try working just two days a week for a month—to see what I thought about it. Compromise is always a position. Saying, “Let’s try this … and then let’s stop and look back and evaluate it.” 

After about a month, I understood what she was saying and agreed.  

Mary Ann:  You slow down as you get older, and it takes longer to get things done. We were not having any time for just us.   I just felt like we needed time. We needed to be able to do what we wanted to do. To be together. Not to have regrets when the Lord takes us home.  

Marriage secrets from the Bells:

  • Seek out God's wisdom when you can't agree.
  • The right answers aren't usually instant.
  • Pray knowing that God is always looking out for your good.
  • Live life without regrets.
  • Realize that a Christ-centered marriage has Christ (and not individuals) at its core.

 

Nelda and Glen Davenport: "What did I think marriage would be like? Well, I never really gave it too much thought."

The Davenports, of St. Joe, Arkansas, have been married for 52 years.

Nelda: We got married on April 6, 1955, in Clarksville, Miss. Glen was in the Army, and he was on leave after his basic training.

Glenda and Nelda Davenport when first marriedGlen: What did I think marriage would be like? Well, I never really gave it too much thought. We both had a lot of common sense, and I felt like we could live together.

Nelda: I thought you'd have to make compromises in marriages—that you couldn't always have your way. I didn't go into marriage thinking that Glen and I would each do 50/50, and I think he had the same attitude, too.

There are so many responsibilities in this life that require you to take care of the family, run your home, have order in your life, and keep things going. And it's not always raising kids. There are so many periods in a person's married life.

Glen: Well, I can't remember very many times that I gave more than Nelda. When we were younger I was probably selfish because a lot of time I would leave Nelda and go hunting and fishing. I don't think I lost a night's sleep while she was taking care of the children.

Nelda: Why, I never thought about giving more than Glen, and I didn't think that Glen thought I had and he hadn't. We haven't talked about something like that. Attitude is everything. I don't think you should be keeping score.

As Christians, we've just tried to live our lives in a Christ-like manner. We've looked to Him. He was sinless and He considered himself a servant. He was so humble. Glen and I are just servants to each other. We don't need to get too stuck on ourselves. We're just all part of the puzzle and have to do what we have to do.

Glen: And marriage means that you both have to give and take a lot. Glen and Nelda Davenport

Nelda: You need to have an attitude that you're going to be committed to marriage no matter what it takes. I'm just a firm believer that you have to be committed to marriage and to each other.

And if you both love Christ and are conscientious about your conduct, knowing that you will have to give an account to Christ, I think that makes a huge difference in a person's life

Glen: When I was raised I was always taught it's one man and one woman for life.

Nelda: We don't think of ourselves as being special. I don't feel like I'm special and don't think Glen does either. We got married and we're just supposed to stay married.

Marriage secrets from the Davenports:

  • Make Jesus Christ the center of your home.
  • Have the attitude that you'll be committed to marriage, no matter what.
  • Remember, marriage is not 50/50.
  • Don't spend more than you earn.
  • Love and respect each other.

 

Walter and Hazel Douglas: "Marriage has been a lot of fun."

The Douglases have been married for 70 years and live in Arkansas.

Walter: When we got married I didn’t give it too much thought.

Walter and Hazel Douglas shortly as newlywedsHazel: I just believed that marriage was something you stayed with. We loved each other.

Walter: My uncle [a preacher] had been down visiting and he lived in Judsonia. We told him we were going to get married and he said he hadn’t married any of the family. Hazel decided that it would be okay for us to go up there and so we went to Judsonia [on a four-day weekend] and he married us and we went on to Memphis and spent our honeymoon.

Hazel: Walter had the old family car and it broke down on us while we were there. He had to put it in the shop so we could get back home. But we got on the bus. We saw a lot of Memphis because I had never been out of Arkansas.

Walter: Why is our marriage so strong? We just get along, I guess. Give and take.

Hazel: I don’t say we don’t have our ups and downs sometimes, but we work them out. When I don’t like things I let it be known. I can tell how he feels by his actions.

Walter: When we got married I was a Baptist and she was a Methodist. But we decided to go to church together.

Hazel: Church has been important in our marriage. I think it’s part of Christian life.

Walter: You miss it [church] when you don’t go.

Hazel: Another reason our marriage is strong is because we’ve done fun things together.

Walter: Hazel and I watched our youngest son play basketball together. In high school I played basketball and we turned out to be a good team for a small place. We lost a state tournament championship by one point.

And then our youngest son played high school basketball, and he made the team his sophomore year. He made the final goal and his team won by one point … in the last second. 

Walter: We’ve had a motor home for several years … still have one. We’ve been in every state and have been in old Mexico.Walter and Hazel Douglas

Hazel: Prayer is another reason for our strong marriage. I pray about things if something just doesn’t go right. I pray more often now when things are going good.

Walter: Prayer is important because God said so.

Hazel: I prayed that our marriage would be successful.

Walter: I’d describe our marriage as successful.       

Hazel: Marriage has been a lot of fun. We’ve been married 70 years and I wish I had another 70.

Marriage secrets from the Douglases:

  • Know that marriage is something you stay with.
  • Do fun things together.
  • Pray that your marriage will be successful in God’s eyes.
  • Remember that marriage is give and take.
  • Learn to understand how your mate communicates feelings.

  

Bill and Joan Fortin: "If God could forgive me of all my sins, who am I not to forgive my husband?"  
The Fortins, of Whiting, New Jersey, have been married for 52 years.

Bill: Why did I want to get married? Well, I guess I just wanted to be married, and I loved Joan. I thought we could raise a nice family together and just have a wonderful marriage. 

Bill and Joan Fortin on their wedding dayJoan: I wanted to marry Bill because I really loved him. I respected the way he treated me—honorably and courteously.   For me, marriage was going to be a white picket fence, and roses, and raising a bunch of kids. I didn’t foresee any problems. 

There wasn’t much for premarital counseling when we got married. It was more that you found the right person and got married. Divorce was out of the question in those days. 

Bill: I was a very obstinate guy and wanted things to go my way. Unfortunately … I even hate to admit it, I cheated on my wife for about 10 years of our marriage. She never even realized it until it was over. 

I became a Christian in 1969—after the affair had ended. Every time that I went to worship the Lord as a believer, all of the visions of my past would come into play. Then someone said at church one day, “Brothers and sisters confess your sins.” 

Joan started crying. She turned to me and said, “I have an unclean thought I have to confess to you.” 

After we went home from church that day, I said to Joan, “Before you share anything with me, I have to confess what kind of trash bag I was.” She had always trusted in me. I felt relieved, but she was devastated.    

That night we knelt beside our bed together for the first time, and she forgave me as Christ forgave me. From that day on I have been more in love with her and with my family. 

Joan: We were both in tears. By that time I had also become a Christian, and all I could think of was if God could forgive me of all of my sins, who am I Bill and Joan Fortinnot to forgive my husband. Of course I was hurt. But God, in His mercy, erased any bitterness that I had toward that affair, and I went on forgiving and loving Bill. 

Bill: Even though I had confessed everything to my honey, I would still get an occasional vision of my past as I drove along the turnpike. I prayed for [a former mistress] and for her loved ones— that the Lord would call them all by name, fill them with His mercy and forgiveness. I continued to do this any time she came to my mind, and the images went away. Satan does not want prayer for anyone. 

Joan: Today I just see the blessings that God has given Bill and me through our marriage and the love that the family has for one another. I could have missed all of that.   I am overjoyed and overwhelmed at how God works all things together for good even when we don’t know Him … even when we are walking in disobedience. He is still in control and in charge. 

Bill: Today, I want to bless Joan and she wants to bless me. We only argue about who loves who more. We are up in age now, and we know that the Lord could take either one of us at any time.   I realize that God has given me a loan of my wife for one day, and He has given her a loan of me for one day. And someday the loan will be due. 

Marriage secrets from the Fortins:

  • Always be truthful with one another.
  • Forgive one another as Christ forgave you.
  • Don’t dwell on past failures; count your blessings and look forward to the future.
  • Have fun together.
  • Pray the Lord’s Prayer daily and examine your life through its words.

 

Joseph and Mattie Foy: "You don’t get mad or critical because everyone has a way of their own."  

Joseph and Mattie live in New Bern, N.C., and have been married for 68 years. Although Joseph does not like to talk much today, Mattie was delighted to share some of the secreJoseph and Mattie Foyts to their long marriage.

Joseph and I were married by the Justice of the Peace on May 14, 1938, when I was 17 years old and he was 19. I thought that marriage would be grand, and it has been.  

I think the main reason our marriage has been so wonderful is because of our faith. We both know right from wrong and have tried to do the right things in life. We’ve been in the same church all of our married life. We like to discuss the sermons together. Sometimes we don’t understand something in the Bible until the pastor brings out a point. 

We’ve also learned how to love and respect each other. He understands me and I understand him, and we forgive one another. There were some times in our marriage when Joseph was late coming home, and that upset and worried me. But he would apologize and ask for my forgiveness. And I always forgave him. 

If a husband is willing to come to his wife and ask for forgiveness, she should forgive him. Of course it might stay with her for a while, but after a while it won’t worry her any more. When you forgive somebody you have to let it go. We have to forgive each other because God forgave us. 

Another way to have a wonderful marriage is by not speaking everything you think. An example would be if Joseph decides he wants to eat in the bedroom. Now, maybe I’d rather that he not eat in the bedroom, but it’s his bedroom as well as mine. So, I don’t say anything about it, even though I might not like it. 

Maybe sometimes I think he ought to buy some new clothes, but he says the ones he has are good enough for him. So I don’t say anything. I let him have his way. Whenever he decides to buy some new clothes, he will. 

Now, sometimes he tries to tell me what to do and how long I should go grocery shopping. He might ask, “Where have you been? What have you been doing?” But sometimes he just lets it go. When we let things go, because we understand another’s ways, that’s showing respect. 

When you find a person’s ways, you learn to work with his ways…know his ways. You don’t get mad or critical because everyone has a way of their own. When you learn a person’s ways, you can work with that person because you understand them. 

After 68 years of marriage I have no regrets. Joseph and I have had a wonderful marriage! God blessed us with 12 children and so many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren that I can’t keep up with them. 

Every marriage has its ups and downs, but we have always loved each other! Our marriage has truly been grand! 

Marriage secrets from the Foys:  

  • Go to church, discuss the Bible together, and do right. 
  • You have to be willing to give and take.
  • Everything won’t be right all of the time; be willing to forgive.
  • Try to understand one another.  
  • You can’t speak everything you think.

  

Richard and Mary Jane Long: "As we draw closer to God, we draw closer to each other."  

The Longs, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, have been married 55 years. 

Mary Jane: When Richard and I got married 55 years ago, we understood that it was a life-long commitment. We didn’t think about whether our marriage would work or not because we knew God was in it. I really don’t know what we expected out of marriage, but I got a good husband out of it. 

Richard and Mary Jane Long on their wedding dayI remember my grandfather giving us some advice when we were engaged. He said, “You should always pray together.” I think that’s been one of the real pillars in our marriage—the fact that we pray together every day. It’s usually easy for us to pray together … but not always. 

Richard: Well, it’s pretty hard to pray when you’re angry, and there have been some times in our marriage (as I would assume in every marriage) when there was a difference of opinion. I remember one incident in the early years of our marriage when we were farming and really struggling. I think there was a wedding or something and Jane felt like she needed a new dress. So I sold some hay early so she could have the dress, and I remember being angry about this. Prayer would not have been very easy in that situation. In actuality, I was really probably angry at the inability to just freely go and buy a dress and directed my anger towards my wife. 

Praying together has been a matter of course for Jane and me. I think of our relationship like a triangle—with God at the apex and Jane and me at the other angles of it. As we draw closer to God (moving up the sides of the triangle), we draw closer to each other. Of course, this requires both of us to draw closer to the Lord. And I don’t know how we can draw closer to the Lord apart from prayer. 

Now, God has not always answered the way we wanted Him to. We had a son who died of Hodgkin’s Disease at the age of 24. We had been praying that the Lord would heal him and restore his health, but the Lord had other plans for him. Certainly life will never be the same. There will always be a kind of void, and we always wonder what kind of person he would have been had the Lord continued his life. But we just trust that God, Whose ways are higher than our ways, does what’s right and gives gRichard and Mary Jane Longrace to adjust as needed. God gives grace and direction as we trust Him and walk in the light that He gives us. 

Mary Jane: Our youngest child was 14 or 15 when her brother died—it was a very critical time in her life.  And to lose her brother—that was really hard. 

Richard: When she was in high school she was involved in some behavior that was not according to our family standards and this was subject for our prayers. Praise, God, she is now a pastor’s wife who loves and serves the Lord. That has been a prayer that has been definitely answered. 

Sometimes I voice the words, “Lord, this is what we want, but You see the whole picture. You know what is right and what is best here.” And I try to be honest in saying, as Jesus did, “Nevertheless not my will but Thine be done.” 

Marriage secrets from the Longs: 

  • Marriage is a life-long commitment.
  • Keep courting and encouraging one another.
  • Trust each other and trust the Lord.
  • Say, “I love you” every day.
  • Be helpmates—looking for ways to help and encourage one another.

 

Jack and Jody May: "She was worth giving up a football scholarship."  

The Mays, of Little Rock, Ark., recently celebrated their 74th anniversary.

Jack and Jody MayJack: Jody and I started going together regularly when I was about 18 years old, and I just fell deeply in love with her. I got a football scholarship at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., but I was so lovesick that I hitchhiked back to Arkansas. When I told Jody I was coming home, I said, "Let's get married." And so we did—30 days later. I didn't want Jody marrying somebody else.

Jody: We got married in the pastor's study. My mom, Jack's mom, and one of Jack's sisters were there.

Jack: It was the Great Depression, and I couldn't find a regular job at first. We didn't have a car and had to walk everywhere. I had dozens of part-time jobs, until I finally got into the motor freight industry where I worked for 50 years. We moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where I became an assistant superintendent of operations. It was one of the best periods in our lives.

Jody: And it was one of the hardest times. Jack and I wanted to have children. We did everything that we knew how to, but it just didn't work. Our pastor there knew about an unwed mother from out-of-state, and he said that he'd arrange for us to adopt the baby. I'd ask him about the baby nearly every Sunday. He'd say, "Jody, not yet. … Don't ask me anymore."

When I finally asked again he said, "Well, you quit asking so I figured that it had taken too long and you lost interest." He told us that he had given the baby to friends of ours—another couple who we knew in the church. And that was heartbreaking.

But we saw the baby all of the time. Her name was Nancy. She had blonde hair and big blue eyes. She was real cute! Because her parents were good friends of ours, they'd often ask us to watch Nancy for them. We never told them that we had once thought she'd be our baby.

Jack: A friend of ours who was a doctor said that he was going to deliver a baby [born out of wedlock] before long and would try to get her for us. It turned out that the girl's mother and father decided that she should keep the baby.

Jody: You just have to have faith that God knows what He is doing … I was thinking about how old Nancy would be. We left Des Moines in 1962. She'd be married with children.                  

Jack: Just have faith in the Lord and pray. Couples that pray together stay together. We rely on the Scripture: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

Jody: After 74 years of marriage, I can still say that I'm glad I married Jack. I never thought of anyone else, and I got him. He has been a good, good husband.

Jack: And I'm sure glad I married Jody. She was worth giving up a football scholarship. 

Marriage secrets from the Mays:

  • Pray together.
  • Stay in church.
  • Trust and obey.
  • Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it.
  • Live the Bible—don't just know it. 
     
Charles and Betty Powell: "Getting married for me [Betty] was a means of getting away from home. My father was an alcoholic and he made it really rough on us."  

Charles and Betty Powell, of Three Rivers, Calif., recently celebrated their 56th anniversary.

Betty: Charles and I met at a dance place when he was in the Navy. He was on leave, and it was love at first sight. He was 6'2", had dark hair, and green eyes. I thought he was the most handsome thing that had ever come along, and he was considerate. We dated for about six months before we got married.

Charles and Betty Powell on their wedding dayI really didn't know what marriage would be like, but I did anticipate some problems. That's because getting married for me was a means of getting away from home. My father was an alcoholic and he made it really rough on us. When he drank, he got mean.

Charles: My mother died of tuberculosis when I was five years old, and my father and my older sister raised me. Dad was always good to me, although we didn't have much. He farmed with mules and it was a hard life. Dad died when I was 17, so I joined the Navy.

I was on leave at Port Hueneme, California, when I met Betty. She was a good-looking blonde and I just liked her from the time we met. We got married after she graduated from high school. I was in the Navy for the first four years of our marriage, and then I was a police officer for 30 years.

Betty: I had a wonderful Christian mother, and I praise God for her. I think that my mother's prayers had an impact on how Charles and my marriage turned out. She was a great encourager and a wonderful person. I saw her living her Christian faith even though my dad was an angry alcoholic.

Charles: Betty and I weren't given any premarital advice. We learned how to have a good marriage from seminars at church and Christian camps. We stayed in church and had Christian friends. Divorce was never an option.

Betty: God has used the hard times in our lives to draw us closer to Him and to help us depend on Him. When Charles and I learned that our son, Rocky, had Cerebral Palsy, it put me on my knees. I come from a mother with great faith, and I saw her faith in action. I thank God for my mother and for our many Christian frienCharles and Betty Powell on their 50th anniversaryds.

Charles: When I was a policeman and went on dangerous calls, I'd let Betty know. She'd call our friends and ask them to pray.

Betty: I remember Rocky wringing his hands one night about his dad. I said, "Rocky, if you really believe God will answer our prayers, then you need to go to bed. Or, would you rather worry about your dad and I'll call our friends and ask them not to pray?"

Charles: One of the highlights of our marriage was the fiftieth anniversary celebration that Rocky and our two daughters gave us. We repeated our vows before 150 relatives and friends. My thoughts about marriage really weren't any different from what they were on the day I married Betty. I had the same commitment.

Betty: We had a regular ceremony and they all [family members] stood in as bridesmaids and groomsmen. We all walked down—even a new baby. We had four generations there.

When Charles and I repeated our wedding vows on our fiftieth anniversary, I had real peace in my life. I've never felt anything was too hard because I solely depend upon the Lord.

Marriage secrets from the Powells:

  • Stay in church.
  • There's a lot of give and take in marriage.
  • Sometimes you just need to walk away from an argument and come back later to discuss things.
  • Live each day at a time. As someone once said, "I don't know what tomorrow holds but I do know Who holds tomorrow."
  • Enjoy doing fun things with Christian friends.

 

Paul and Mona Sproull: "I didn't know how Paul could love God when he didn't even know how to love me."

The Sproulls, of North Olmsted, Ohio, have been married 58 years.

Mona: When Paul and I married, we didn't realize that we were two very sinful people who needed a Savior. I thought if you got saved it meant you didn't wear lipstick, have permanents, or go to the movies. I didn't want any part of that and thought it was nothing but a hard yoke to put on you. The people I knew who were Christians were not a lot of fun. All they did was sit around and pray, and you couldn't have an intelligent conversation about social things. 

Paul and Mona SproullThings did not get better when Paul received the Lord a couple of months after we got married, on Easter Sunday 1948. I let him know that I didn't like it and wouldn't be joining him in his newfound love. I think that knocked the joy right out of him. Needless to say, our marriage was miserable.

Paul: Mona was very upset when she learned that I had accepted Christ. She said, "I don't know how you can love God when you don't even know how to love me." It took a number of years before she became a Christian. She didn't want to visit my parents anymore because whenever we were there they would talk about God and what Christ meant to them. And that disturbed her.

For the first few years after we got married our relationship was pretty rocky. The Scripture says how can the two walk together if they not be agreed. And we certainly were not in agreement. I just didn't know how to treat her. My folks were never ones to show affection. I didn't know anything about true affection.

Mona: But God was working on me. In 1952, after our first daughter was born, I was loaded down with a weight of sin and never felt rested. I was traveling north on Route 76 from Nashville and saw a sign that said, "Are you tired of living in sin?" My, oh, my, was I tired. Too tired for a 24-year-old. I stopped the car and cried my way through to His grace. Life changed for us at that time.

Now that we are old, we see how some progress took a lot of years to accomplish. And we see how we hindered the Spirit for a lot of years when we didn't go to church and take God seriously.

Paul: I must confess, for the first 31 years of our marriage, I had one of the world's worst tempers. I ruined automobile transmissions, broke equipment and doors—all out of anger. In 1979 I asked Christ to take complete control of my life and got deliverance from my temper, alcohol, cigarettes, you name it. … I am so gratePaul and Mona Sproullful.

In 1984 our preacher's wife asked me to teach a marriage class. I said, "I can teach evangelism, but I can't teach marriage!" After a little convincing I agreed to teach one lesson.

Mona: As Paul taught the class for the next 17 years, we were actually digging into the mystery of it all. We became overwhelmed with the need for more of this teaching. Quiet endurance is not joy. Paul and I now have joy. We are intimate on a very deep level. We want to give that to others.

Paul: Today, Mona and I think about love in a far different vernacular than most people. We think of each other as the greatest things since Pepsi Cola, and there's no place in our marriage for anything but total commitment to one another and to God. Our God has grown and matured us from nothing to what we consider to be one of the finest marriages that we know of.

Marriage is our heartbeat, our vision, our life. We just want to help marriages.

Marriage secrets from the Sproulls:

  • Wives, show your husband value and love through your respect.
  • Totally consider each other's opinions before making decisions.
  • The husband is to be the spiritual leader of the home.
  • Remember, you are not your mate's Holy Spirit.
  • There's power in praying together.

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