50 years ago on Saturday 26 August 1967 Caroline and I were married in Wrexham, North Wales. Caroline always likes to say that she was a child-bride. If so, then she was a prodigy, for she had by then graduated in History from Girton College, Cambridge!
Inevitably we had a party to celebrate our Golden Wedding Anniversary. In my blog this week let me share some excerpts from my speech
What’s been the secret of our 50 years of marriage? Certainly not marriage preparation – that didn’t exist 50 years ago.
A Good Housekeeping article in October 2015 gave 16 tips for staying (together) power:
- Talk to each other, don’t vent to friends
- Never stop creating shared memories – i.e. do things together
- Kids makes marriage stronger
- Give each other personal space
- Marriage is not always 50/50
- Make an effort to look your best
- Embrace your individuality – it’s important to be your own person
- Don’t overlook small family moments – in our case G & Ts on a Friday afternoon
- Get professional help when you need it – ‘counselling’!
- Expect there will be crises, but stick it out – people give up too soon
- Love means being a team – when problems arise
- Never shop showing affection
- Talk out issues – don’t send texts/emails
- Have a standing date – without the kids
- History doesn’t have to be repeated – the fact that your parents split up, doesn’t mean you have to
- Pick your battles
Or perhaps the secret of staying together is to be found in my father’s advice: ‘Do whatever he tells you’. Let me explain. My father, who preached the sermon at our wedding, took as his text command of Mary to the servants at the Cana wedding: “Whatever he says to you, do it!” (John 2.5). To quote from his sermon:
Today you should remember that Jesus can make a marriage relationship one of joy, depth, and permanence through the constant gift of grace. This is important, for although you are to be a minister and minister’s wife, you are flesh and blood and subject to sin. You will need the grace of God in Christ. Be encouraged today in the faith that God will give it to you – all your way and all your days – if you seek it.
A golden wedding anniversary is an occasion for looking back – and for being grateful. Certainly, over these past 50 years God has certainly blessed us as a couple. We have had some amazing experiences together. G.K. Chesterton said, ‘Adventure is the champagne of life’. If so, then we have been fizzing for 50 the past years. We have been surrounded by amazing friends at every stage of the last 50 years. If it be true that “Love is blind; but friendship closes its eyes”, many of our friends have closed their eyes. We have been blessed with four amazing children together with three daughters-in-law and one son-in-law. In addition, we have seven even more amazing grandchildren.
And, of course, I have an amazing wife. Over the past 50 years Caroline has been a wife, mother and homemaker and done a great job to boot; she has been a minister’s wife and a principal’s wife with all the attendant strains and stresses; she was briefly a teacher who had a hand in shaping Victoria Wood; she was a magistrate and then a barrister; and now with over 7000 deaths she is the busiest coroner in the country. Currently the junior vice-president, in September she becomes the vice-president of the Coroners Society in England and Wales, and then the following September the President of the society. I want to thank her for her love and support over the years. With the Psalmist we can say “Surely goodness and mercy have followed us all the days of our life”.
A golden wedding anniversary is also a day for looking forward and being confident. That may sound a little strange bold – how can one be confident of the future? For in the coming years we shall become increasingly decrepit. Some of you will be here in 50 years’ time – but we will not be. We can make our plans, but we know that at this stage in life plans have to be provisional. Who knows when dementia or illness will strike? Yet, in spite of all this, we can look forward and be confident. How come? Because we know that God will be there, whatever.
“We lift up our eyes to the hills – from where will our help come?
Our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth….
The Lord will keep our going out and our coming in
From this time on and forever more” (Psalm 121 alt.).