42 years ago, I had been nineteen for twenty days, when Gayle walked down the aisle to become my wife. We met early in Jr. High School. One day in 9th grade, I walked her home from school and on the railroad tracks behind her house, I asked her the question. So, if I asked you to marry me what would you say? She said yes. We never really went out together until 11th grade. Our first date was magical, fairy tale like. We walked to meet each other our homes were about two miles apart. It was November 1, a light snow was falling and when we met halfway on Southern Avenue in front of Shoalt’s Sheet Metal Shop, neither of us could believe we were finally together.
We were engaged September 17, 1971 just a few months after graduating from high school. We were married January 20, 1973. Both of us barely nineteen and within one year we bought our first home and January 7, 1974 had our first daughter.
As one writer said, anyone who has been married more than a couple of weeks has grounds for divorce, and we were not exempt. We always had a strong physical attraction for each other, but what we didn’t know is we were also drawn together by many unmet needs. Nor did we know that no other human is capable of meeting all those needs.
We were two kids growing up together. Two very imperfect kids with absolutely no training on marriage or parenting or resolving conflict or living with natural differences. Gayle had no training on how to live with a self-centered, clueless husband who wanted everything to appear better than it was. I had no clue how to be domesticated, to be a husband and dad.
Two years into our marriage it was almost over. I didn’t know what to do or how to be the man Gayle needed and I think though she tried harder than I did, Gayle didn’t know what to do with me either. So two years in and our marriage was hanging on by a thread.
During this time I came to know the Lord and Gayle became more fully committed. I’d like to say this fixed everything but it really didn’t. We got busy with church life, and like in most everything I ever did, I went to extremes. Church became everything but I will say looking back, not in a healthy way. We had little life apart from church. We endured seven years of Bible College and then 18 years of pastoral ministry.
As I sit here now 42 years, three kids, and four grandchildren later and ponder it all, it is a miracle we are still IN LOVE and are still together. In this writing, I pondered only giving you the good stuff but that isn’t fair to other marriages or true.
I believe marriage is one of God’s best methods to raise us as His kids. Nothing will show you how selfish you are like marriage. Nothing can humble you like thinking you are doing well only to find out your spouse isn’t happy with you. There is no better place to learn to tell the truth in love. There is no better place to mature and work on yourself. When push comes to shove, and both of you are at the end of your resources, you can learn to humble yourself before God together and seek his help. You can seek outside help, which is extremely humbling and hard to listen to when you are part of the problem.
Gayle is such a blessing to me. I am fortunate to have her love all these years. We aren’t kids anymore but we are still playful, she still makes my heart beat fast and I’m so glad we’ve made it this far on the journey together. We have both intentionally worked on our selves and have experienced some serious growth. I’m learning when we are both surrendered to Christ and working on pleasing Him, life is at its best. When my natural self jumps in, it can be a mess.
So, ching, ching Misiz! Happy 42nd Anniversary and I love you very much! I look forward to the next 25 years or so of growth, life and the journey together!