11 The Gift of MarriageMy wife and I share a date with one of America's most memorable and celebrated events. On July 20, 1969, America claimed its place in history as the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle landed and the first human walked on the face of the moon. We heard those famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as they were first spoken. TV news stations large and small worked tirelessly to deliver even the most minute detail of the historic event to a waiting world.

Ten years later, on July 20, 1979, Dorothy Aafedt and I said “I do” in a remarkably unremarkable ceremony. Unlike the NASA mission, there were no television crews, no microphones or calculated illustrations. There was just a pair of kids surrounded by a couple of friends and family in a courtroom in southern Arizona. At the time it seemed like a small step, but it has proven to be a giant leap as Dorothy and I have continued to mark time since that date.

This past weekend we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, and it's given me cause to reflect on all that's transpired since our historic first steps.

Time has allowed us several years in Europe with our three children, and a home on both the East and West Coasts of the United States. The small, quiet union of two youngsters from Kansas gave way to an eventual family of 18, counting grandchildren and spouses. All but one now calls North Carolina home.

As a military family, we share memories of being diverted en route — never once landing at our intended destination at the point of our departure. We've relocated to Germany as our belongings relocated to Okinawa and have lived in hotels and motels on two continents while making new friends time and again.

Over the course of the last 40 years, one thing has become evident: there is nothing more important in a marriage than the relationship between husband and wife. When other things became more important, such as careers, children and personal pursuits, trouble isn't far behind. Though I've failed miserably at this on occasion, the facts show that when we make the relationship our top priority, the marriage flourishes.

Just like any other married couple, we've had our share of trials. From the lack or abundance of money to devastating loss and health crises, we've navigated a lot of territory in the past four decades. And honestly, I don't know how we would have fared had we not put our faith in Christ early in the game.

God has proven trustworthy. When we've faced struggles, we've been able to lean on the promise that there is more to this life than living and dying, or meeting and missing bills. Even death has stared us in the face, but with God in our corner, though our knees have gotten weak at times, we never blinked.

In the end, there is no secret formula for a long or successful marriage. It is a gift — a gift you get to open anew each waking day.

Marriage is a gift you get to open anew each waking day.
Photo by Caroline Veronez on Unsplash

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