“Looking back, I’ve caused us a lot of grief simply because I was a bulldozer. Bulldozers are powerful machines.”

“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.”

“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 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.”

Each of the individuals quoted above probably represents thousands who get divorced every day. But here’s the catch: These words came from interviews conducted with couples who have been married for more than 50 years.

People like this have a lot to teach us about marriage. FamilyLife writer Mary Larmoyeux, who talked with these couples for an article in The Family Room (FamilyLife’s monthly e-magazine),was impressed with the number who had been through severe hardship and suffering, yet stuck with their wedding vows. When they give advice like, “Hang on; don’t give up,” we need to listen, because those may be some of the most profound words we’ll ever hear.

Mary ended each section in the article with marriage tips from each couple. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Solve a big problem a little at a time.
  • Consider each other’s opinions before making decisions.
  • Remember, you are not the Holy Spirit.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Look for ways to help and encourage one another.
  • Pray together.
  • Live the Bible—don’t just know it.
  • You can’t speak everything you think.

There’s another reason we need to listen to these voices…they are increasingly rare. The couples reaching their golden anniversaries now were probably the last to grow up in a time when divorce was frowned upon. Now it is so commonplace that I’ve heard stories of young children who feel strange because so many of their classmates don’t live with their original parents.

A few years ago I joined my family in celebrating the fiftieth wedding anniversary of my parents, Ron and Cleve Boehi. I looked around the room that night and was impressed with the number of couples who were about to reach the same milestone. These couples had been there for each other for decades as they raised children …celebrated birthdays and weddings and holidays … and coped with periods of illness, conflict, and grief.

I remember wondering how many couples in my generation would stay together for 50 years. How many celebrations like this would Merry and I attend when we are that age?

We hear so many voices today telling us how difficult it is to keep a marriage together. But if there is anything these golden couples have to teach us, it is this: You can make marriage work for a lifetime. And it’s worth it.

© 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.