Love and Marriage

by Berry D. Simpson
(c) 2001 Used with permission

Recently Cyndi and I were privileged to speak to a roomful of 
young 20-something couples about marriage. I don't remember the 
official title for the evening, but we talked about staying in 
love for a long time, since that's our favorite topic.

It's risky to talk about marriage, since the evidence of our 
expertise is out there for all to see. Other topics are easier to 
mask. For example,
I might bluff my way though a discussion of 
oilfield equipment design, or drilling operations, or even Bible 
study, and only real experts would know whether I was on target. 
But talking about marriage in front of people who see us several 
times every week means no bluffing. They can see the truth. And 
not only that, the story isn't over yet. Who knows what will 
happen tomorrow?

I have no illusions that our marriage is invulnerable. No 
relationship is bulletproof. We will continue to suffer attacks 
on our relationship from now on. The world will pressure us to 
fall apart, to break up, to destroy what is important to us; we 
should expect nothing less. We are, after all, aliens and 
strangers walking through a world dominated by pagan ungodly 
thinking. This world is not our home, we're just passing through. 
We don't have to be afraid, but we do have to be wary. We have to 
be proactive to keep our relationship strong.

There are many topics of married life I certainly don't feel 
qualified to talk about, such as conflict resolution (I clam up 
and avoid confrontation); family finances (I am usually 
overwhelmed and afraid); or family devotion times (I am such a 
loner I forget about including those around me in my devotional 
life). But I can talk about staying in love for over 22 years, 
because I am more in love with Cyndi today than at any time since 
we first met. And Cyndi, well she has, as I've previously 
written, dedicated her life to making me a happy man. So love is 
a good topic for us.

It was fun to talk with a roomful of young couples; so many of 
our relationship habits were formed back when we were the same 
age.

We learned a few fundamentals back then when were in our early 
twenties that have served us well. I don't know if we picked them 
up on our own, or if we read them in a book, or if we heard them 
in a sermon or seminar, but they've served us well.

Probably the best thing we did very early was to decide how we 
would talk about each other and about our marriage. We decided to 
keep our mouths shut about any complaints or struggles or 
dissatisfactions. I don't mean that we walled ourselves off from 
people who wanted to help us, but we guarded and protected each 
other as individuals and as a couple. We were careful about what 
we said to others.

I made a conscious decision very early never to tell marriage 
jokes. I remember being in a large break room one day during 
lunch, it was full of my coworkers, almost all men, and they were 
cracking jokes about marriage and bad-mouthing their own spouses. 
I decided I would never be like that. If people heard me talk 
about marriage it would be only good things. I knew I could make 
people laugh and I was good at sharp retorts and wise cracks and 
marriage is an easy target. "Take my wife, please .", and like 
that.

But I knew that over time, jokes like that would eventually 
change the shape of my heart. I decided not to do it. I didn't 
want to joke myself out of being in love.

Cyndi talks about us as a couple, visualizing our role as 
living back-to-back, taking on all attackers. Any challenge 
against one was an attack on both of us. We were back-to-back, 
shoulder blade-to-shoulder blade, fending off the world if 
necessary. Not that we were combative, but that we were always on 
the same side.

That means we didn't have to guard our own back from our own 
partners. It means we didn't tell things on each other, even to 
our own families. I didn't tell things on Cyndi to my family or 
friends, and she didn't tell things on me to her family and 
friends. And so, we never had to be afraid of being ambushed in a 
future family conversation with some personal piece of 
embarrassing information.

The young couples' class did us a huge favor by inviting us to 
speak. Cyndi and I grew even closer (more in love) as we prepared 
our talk. We had a chance to reinforce those early decisions that 
made our marriage strong, and to think about how we will handle 
the next twenty years.

"You have made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until 
it rests in You." . Augustine
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Berry D. Simpson - Midland, Texas - bsimpson@marshill.com 
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Copyright 2001 Berry D. Simpson, all rights reserved 
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