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Making your relationship work with tenacity

A couple we know celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary a short time ago. Teressa and I feel pretty accomplished here in our 31st year of matrimony, but compared to 70, we’re rookies!

We know this couple well, having worked with them in ministry for several years. They are an inspiration, and I’d say more so because they aren’t perfect.

I’ve known a few couples who seem to have it all together. Never a cross word. Always doing small kindnesses for one another. Never a complaint about one another. Those folks are inspiring, too, but it’s almost like they’re from another planet.

Indeed, even after 70 years together, my friends can be a bit rough around the edges. They know one another’s every last quirk and can be quick to point out the annoying ones.

She can be taciturn when she’s being businesslike and he’s got a sense of humor reminiscent of a teenaged boy.

He’s got patience for miles, but when he’s pushed to the end of it, he’ll be direct and unbudging.

She has her ideas about how younger women should behave—ideas formed in her youth during the 1940s—and isn’t shy about voicing them.

And when they’re steamed with one another they’ll be quite brittle while they work off whatever got them riled up.

But they’ll both tell you there’s never been a doubt about staying together. Through thick and thin, despite one another’s quirks and 70 years’ worth of annoyances, some disappointments and lots of time working too long and hard to see much of each other, they’ve never wavered in their commitment.

They’ll tell you they stood before God and man and said “’til death do us part” and that’s what they meant.

One thing I love about being around them is that even when they’re annoyed with one another they don’t let anyone else pile on.

If someone wants to chime in with their own criticism of their spouse, both shift from their own venting to defense mode, gently explaining why their spouse acted like they did, and why they themselves should’ve seen it coming and approached the situation differently.

That’s because they went into their marriage with a belief that if it ever came down to the two of them against the world, they’d stand back to back and defend their union against all comers.

And they’re tenacious about it.

Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.


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