God isn't finished with us yet

Jul 6, 2017 By Betty Starks Case

I've often called my life partner "my mate" in this column, a term some readers believe leaves him out. Some wonder why or how he lived with me this long.

The man is, however, much more than my mate. On July 16, Ned will have been my loved husband for 75 years.

So far, we haven't heard of a local couple who can top that. Can you?

We find it hard to believe ourselves. We are fortunate to be living in a comfortable home in better than average good health. (What does "average" know about a marriage that began in 1942, anyway?)

Some call our long life together "luck," some "blessing," and some "serendipity."

I love serendipity, where desirable events occur unexpectedly.

I came to believe in it when we lived at Pheasant Crest Farm. When my mate built a large redwood deck on the north side of the house, I observed casually that I loved gazebos. Next morning, I found the little gazebo of my dreams taking shape on the corner of the deck.

I painted its obvious name over the doorway -- "Serendipity Hut." Warm visits, happy music and dancing on the deck burst from the inviting structure as long as we lived there.

But then there's my friend who clarified the difference between annual events, with wisdom: "A birthday is time recorded. An anniversary is earned."

Friend's wisdom rings true. Anniversaries are earned. Or not.

Tuning in to time, I wonder about the many couples who live together, rejecting the commitment called "marriage." I wonder if that might make it easier to ignore other commitments as well - to children that may result from their uncommitted union.

Are anniversaries meaningful to them? If so, when do they start counting?

Do they somehow record time together as important and valued in their lives? Or is the relationship a come-and-go affair?

And yet - to a woman, there seems to linger an inborn need for commitment, even when she pretends otherwise. Read the advice columns in the newspapers. Women never seem to stop expecting men will somehow, sometime, treat them better, value them more.

I have news for you, girls. Men will value you more, treat you better when you help them understand why they must, why you're worth it, when you set and maintain standards that make it clear.

In this game, women have the power if they'll only claim it.

Might it be more than that? Like a responsibility? Like how they rate themselves as women?

Somehow, it seems women have let themselves be deceived with the suggestion that they aren't modern-thinking if they don't participate with the same abandon toward sex as males often do, claiming no responsibility on his part.

I can't help wondering, "What kind of man is that?"

Not the man I know best.

All the effort to kick tradition pales when I read in a neighboring newspaper column about a little boy who yearns and cries for the daddy who doesn't want him. Some male should be mightily ashamed. And some female mighty weak.

So for those who'd ask today, "How did you stay married so long?" here's our quick clue:

To women, live so that you like and honor the strong, moral person you are, the one who assures a man he's more than a "user." When that's obvious, your partner can respect you. Concern for the marriage grows. Anniversaries are earned.

Yes, you'll make mistakes. Sometimes you'll even be wrong. But you'll know you didn't enable another's weakness. You'll know you helped him to grow to his stronger self with your love and respect for yourself first. You'll be able to say proudly and with an understanding smile, "But God's not finished with me yet."

To male readers, who probably are not asking, but who might benefit from my widely respected male friend's advice, (yes, it was a man who observed, "wedding anniversaries are earned,") why not give it a try?

Remember, just maybe, God's not finished with you yet, either.

And maybe a 75-year marriage is more than serendipity after all.

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