My parents, Ernest and Gladys Hensley, recently celebrated their sixty-third wedding anniversary. In the age we live in, I think that’s saying quite a lot. I can’t imagine my life without the two of them together. I can’t imagine one of them without the other, for they are surely better together than they would have ever been without each other.
My mom says she loved him since she was a girl. She says that when he asked her to marry him, she would have said “yes” to him if she knew the only place they had to live was under a rock.
My dad says that he has always loved her since she was a girl and he heard her singing and playing her guitar in church. He says she sounded like an angel to him.
Their ever after has not always been happy. They’ve both lost their parents, brothers and sisters, and even a son. They’ve had illnesses, accidents, disappointments, and moves from one place to another. No matter what has come and gone, they have always been right there together. I think everyone would agree that 63 years of marriage is a pretty amazing thing.
The statistics on marriage have changed drastically through the years. In 1970 about 72 percent of the population was married as opposed to 59 percent now. Of the marriageable aged population, 24 percent have never married.
The age of marriage has changed also. Teen marriages used to be a common thing. Now the median age is 26.9 years old for males and 25.3 years old for females.
With over 50 percent of the adult population having been divorced, the length of the first marriage that is going to end in divorce, before divorce is a little less than eight years.
There are about 33 percent of marriages that celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary; 20 percent that celebrate 35th anniversaries; and only 5 percent that reach their 50th anniversary. I couldn’t find any statistics for anything over 50 years together. I’d guess that those celebrating 60 years or more is probably around 1 percent.
It is estimated that 5.5 million unmarried couples are living together.
I think the reason for my parents’ successfully long marriage is that they truly loved each other, expected to stay married for a lifetime, and realized that they would have to work together to get through whatever came their way.
Most importantly, I think their strongest factor is that they made God the center of their lives and have served in the ministry together for decades. They are a team and they know it. They were called to work together for their faith in God. That is a mighty powerful glue.
I listened to a book on CD the other day while I was traveling in my car. It said that love is a verb. Love is something you do, serving another person and putting their needs ahead of your own. When you love someone as a verb – as an action instead of a feeling — then love as an emotion will come and continue to abide as long as you continue to make your love an action toward the other person.
I still remember from my limited marital experience that there are days when you’d like to pinch your spouse’s head off, and days they would like to run away on a motorcycle because relationships are messy and hard. It takes two people willing to give all that they can of themselves to each other, and loving past the imperfections.
My parents are blessed to have shared such long lives together, and I know that I am blessed to still have them alive and well. Maybe their lives have not been “happily ever after,” but they have certainly had “love ever after.”