50 Years Married and Still Celebrating
Recently, our church celebrated the Golden wedding anniversary of 19 couples. 50 years of marriage is a significant life milestone. The average length of marriage today is 8 years. Only 6% of couples make it to 50 years. Some don’t make it because of the death of one or both spouses, but most don’t make it because of divorce. It is a reminder that marriage is hard work. What makes it so hard and what did these couples do that made a difference?
Of course, that is the million dollar question. If anyone could answer that and put it into a book, it would be a best seller. No one gets married with the intent of getting a divorce. Every marriage begins with great intentions and dreams of a happy life together. So, I don’t think there are any simple solutions or easy rules for success. Every marriage is different because every life is different.
Every marriage that survives and succeeds must navigate the different life stages. Every stage presents a different challenge. For example, the first stage of marriage is the marital dyad stage in which the task is to differentiate from the family of origin. If one spouse has codependency issues with family, this will be a stage that will be difficult to complete. There are at least 8 identifiable life stages and all have unique challenges. They each demand good communication skills, good negotiation skills, good compromise skills, and a willingness to keep working together, even when it is hard.
One common characteristics that our honored couples had was a reliance on God. Almost without exception, they described going through difficult life circumstances: the loss of a business; the loss of a child; life threatening health challenges; significant disappointments. And yet, in spite of it all, they found that their faith in God was vital to their ability to weather the challenge. This connection to the Divine, a sense of God’s presence in their lives, an ability to trust in something greater than themselves seems to be a critical factor in their ability to stay together through the storm.
Congratulations to these couples. They model something for all of us. They are a part of the 6% club and that is worth celebrating.
 I am indebted to Jack and Judith Balswick for their work on family stages in the book, The Family.