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Here's how to stay together

By Calvin R. “Cal” Towler, MS, LMFT

Rhonda’s thought provoking love and hate blog mentioned divorces in the Christian world, which captured my attention. The stats she used indicate that the dissolution of marriages in secular and Christian communities is about equal. I don’t think this is so because this has certainly not been my experience.

My wife and I were married for 63 years, and would have been so for 70 years, had she lived. We promised as all couples did back in the day that our relationship would last until death did us part. It seems that some couples are having a hard time keeping this most important of all commitments.

We did life together as playful children praying often, loving fully, and laughing and crying. And, we did it all just because. The only childlike loving excuse we needed to do anything for each other was just because. Was marriage always easy, of course not! Were there crisis and conflicts, you know there were. But, did these separate us from each other? No, they brought us together; making us one, causing us to grow, and seasoning us into more mature people. God used them to bless and grow our relationship.

I can’t estimate how many couples I’ve have known through the years. Among these, only a few have divorced. Being married more than 50 years has been common among these friends. About five years ago, I watched with delight as a ‘young’ Christian couple married more than 70 years, strolled across Wal-Mart’s parking lot holding hands, and swinging them over a pipe that keeps cars from driving through the entrance, walking on each side of it, entering the store. They were behaving like children.

This business of being like children must be preserved. We must never grow out of being playful. If you’ve been around long enough to have collected and redeemed S & H Green stamps, you’ve also been around long enough to remember when Old Blue Eyes tried to persuade us in song how love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, and that we can’t have one without the other. That narrow assertion is worth examining.

You may already know that horses have one ‘will,’ while carriages have four ‘wheels.’ And, you may have noticed that while carriages go nowhere without horses, horses may go wherever they choose with or without the carriage. Choosing is important in love and marriage. When we choose to make a commitment, we must choose to keep the commitment. No one can make this choice for us.

Over the years, I provided premarital counseling to some young people who wanted me to ask them the Golden Question, “Do you take this person to be your husband or wife?” Actually, that’s not the Golden Question. The question I posed to them was much harder to answer. If they couldn’t answer it in the affirmative, I wouldn’t marry them. They would need to find someone else to do so.

The real Golden Question is, "Would you sacrifice your life to save your sweetheart’s life, knowing that he or she may fall in love with another person, marry him or her, and give to that person, everything you desired?"

I think the key to good, lasting relationships is to choose to stay, be willing to sacrifice, and always remain playful.

Calvin R. “Cal” Towler, MS, LMFT spent fifty years ministering in churches, working in county welfare departments, being a social work and clinical director in non-profit residential children’s homes, developing the first example of real-time social service software, consulting, mentoring, broadcasting, counseling, building a recording studio, and being its recording engineer.

From Cal: I am the author of the Relationship Impact Model, and am a bit off center in how I approach the daily task of working with injured folks. I can best illustrate this by sharing a frustration one of my social workers harbored. Angered by my low-key playful solution I offered her one day, she said, “You think everything can be solved with play!” To which I responded, “You’re absolutely right.” To hear more from Cal, find him on Facebook here


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