By Rob Furlong
By the time you read this article Karen and I will have celebrated 36 years of marriage and as I write these words I realize how far into the fourth decade of our life together we are!
When we embarked on our journey of marriage all those years ago we were inspired by the words of the poet, Robert Browning who wrote :
"Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be..."
It wasn't a pipe dream that we shared. We had a genuine desire expressed through our marriage vows to continue to grow in our love for each other through every stage of life.
And there have been many stages!
There were the early years where we did not have much money but somehow (with God's help!) we managed to get by.
Then came the parenting years where we learned to juggle work commitments with the demands of growing children as well as carving out time for ourselves.
Navigating the teenage years was never dull. Everything from staying up until 2.00am, waiting for your child to get home from camp, he or she having driven there for the first time, through to meeting the young man who would like to date your daughter. (Always an interesting experience!)
Then suddenly, you find that all of your children have either married or left home and you enter the phase known as "empty nesters". I have learned that this term is actually a myth because grandchildren start arriving and they all seem to find their way to Gramps and Grammy's house!
Our nest is rarely empty these days!
Here's the thing. I can honestly say that I love my wife more deeply now than I ever have and she can say the same about her feelings for me.
I do not say this to boast or to gloat.
Because of the nature of my work I come into contact with many marriages where couples are living lives of "quiet desperation" and there is no sense at all of deep connection with each other.
The last thing I want to do here is to give the impression that we have it all together, because we do not.
So despite our imperfections, why can I say that our love continues to grow?
The following thoughts come to mind.
From the outset of our marriage we decided that after God, the most important relationship in our lives was our marriage.
We love our children, grandchildren and our friends. But none of those relationships has ever taken precedence over ours. (This also includes our work life).
Far too many relationships come to grief because couples pour all of their energy into these other areas only to realize, too late, that when these are gone, they are left with a husband or wife that they barely know.
We have made time for each other.
Whether it was time at the end of each day catching up with each other or going out together, quantity and quality time as a couple has been a priority for us and we reap the benefits of this today.
We have also prayed together.
This has become a sharper focus for us in more recent years and we have found through sharing with each other about what God is doing in our lives, our intimacy has grown deep.
Praying for each other about "life stuff" always enhances intimacy.
Simple things like these have enabled us to walk the path happily of growing old together.
It can happen for you as well and it doesn't mean that you have to do what we do. Discover what will work for you and above all, start doing it!
Because Robert Browning was right – the best is yet to be!•