Sunday, September 16, 2012

Newsweek May 2012: Longevity Kills Marriages

7:07 p.m. Today's project was to visit with my husband Steve in the memory care section of Raincross at Riverside, a very fine assisted living facility. Dinner was over, so we walked back to his room and I showed him two good memory joggers: an illustrated booklet our 30-year-old son Kriss made in 2nd grade for him called "Give Dad a Hand," where he wrote and drew the ways his dad helped him. The second was a craft foam butterfly Steve had made himself at the daycare he was attending weekdays before moving to Raincross. I placed both in the glassed-in memory box at the hallway entrance to his room. He smiled and made commenting syllables as I went through each page of Kriss' book with him.

Yesterday, we sat in his room and I read to him out of his old leather-covered copy of the Living Bible which he had before we even met. I read Genesis Chapter One to him, and we remarked on each day of creation. Our next section will be about God creating Man, and "a helper comparable for him," Woman. God instituted marriage, for mutual love, intimacy and support for a man and a woman. Genesis 2:21-25:

And the LORD caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said:

"This now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

The finest thing I have ever done, after accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, was to marry Steve on July 11, 1981. Far from deteriorating with the passing decades, our relationship became more enjoyable and exciting, even thrilling! The awkwardness and relative ignorance of the first year, then the hectic and somewhat disruptive childbearing years-four children born between 1982 and 1988--rapidly faded into the background while we reveled in the increasing fun of each decade. At our 20th year--wow! We said to one another, "Didn't know it could get this good!" At our 25th, we were simply amazed and humbled at what God does for married couples who do things His way. By our 30th anniversary, our times together were just plain unbelievable. No envy of honeymooners for us!

Then, as you know if you follow this blog, Steve was struck with early-onset familial dementia in 2007. This horrific disease has moved so rapidly this year that despite all our our medicinal, organic and caregiving efforts, he now requires 24-hour care. Thanks to the long term care insurance we bought a decade ago, he is able to have the finest of care in beautiful surroundings.

I saw the copy of Newsweek with the anti-marriage blurb in a pile on a hall table as I walked out of Raincross  after our visit. I had to examine it, as much as I could stomach, anyway. The thumbnail teaser for this article about the deleterious effects of longevity on a marriage showed celebrity couples Arnold and Maria Schwarzenegger and Al and Tipper Gore, married 25  and 40 years respectively. Indeed, their marriages ended in disgrace, just as many marriages do, whether the couples are rich or poor, or their marriages are short-or long-lived.

In the Bible, Jesus Himself makes it quite clear what the problem is: hardness of hearts. When asked about divorce by His enemies the Pharisees, Jesus quoted Genesis 2:24 (above) and added,

So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.

The Pharisees then went on to point out that in the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) a bill of divorce was permitted. (or, they slyly said, "commanded"). Jesus replied,

Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

In Ephesians 5:33, we read God's Christ-centered formula for marriage, which calls for soft hearts and mutual self-sacrifice of our individual  egos, wants, perceived needs and demands, which works every time it's tried :

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

I don't know how long our marriage will last due to Steve's disease, but I am looking forward to our 32nd anniversary next year, and perhaps a few more. Granted, this experience gives a new picture of marriage, but when I vowed along with him that we would be together, absolutely faithfully, "til death do us part," I was all in.

And you and your spouse can defy the lies and anti-marriage screed by determining that you, too, will travel the decades together as man and wife!

1 comment:

  1. Love is giving, and the selflessness of your Christian marriage is a true testimony.

    Love the memory box you moved to his room.

    Hugs and prayers,