Five Lessons I Learned from Fifty Years of Marriage


Love is in the air. On Valentine’s Day, we take time to celebrate the love in our lives. Yet love, and especially marriage, is so much more than chocolate hearts and roses. Today, special guest Donna Daly reminds us of some important life lessons that she has acquired during 50 years of marriage to her husband, Ken. Happy Valentine’s Day.

A lovely friend recently referred to Ken and me as a “regular couple”.  While we appreciated the positive title, we chuckled that we view ourselves as an “irregular couple”.  We agree that we are still a long-term couple because we are somewhat a product of our generation, our families, and mostly because of God’s strong hand in our loving relationship.

Here are 5 lessons learned in our fifty years of marriage:

1. Love isn’t always stars, butterflies and bells. 

While that magical spark is surely a gift from God to be cherished and enjoyed, true long-term love is much more.  Not only is it honoring the marriage but also the personhood, the individuality of the other, as well as the self.

2.  “Most people are doing the best they can most of the time.”

In Ken’s and my younger days, the movie, “Love Story”, was popular.  One of the famous lines is, “Love means you never have to say, I’m sorry.”  Well, sorry movie lovers but Ken and I believe that saying “I’m sorry” and forgiving is important.  We believe that each of us is a fallen person, redeemed by Christ’s love.  Anyone can have an “off-day” or “off-time” in their lives when they aren’t their true selves.  When that‘s happened to either of us, we have reminded ourselves to, “Hang in there, Charlie Brown.”  Sharing  feelings and perceptions while accepting another’s viewpoint is important and can be challenging.  As Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are doing the best they can most of the time.”  I’ve learned the importance of good communication skills.  And I’m still learning!

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3.  Learn to dance.

As a dear, perceptive friend observed, Ken and I have learned “our dance” very well.  We still giggle about the time early on in our marriage when, together, we made our bed.  Ken observed my side of the bed with its wrinkles and bumps while I saw the imperfections on his side.  While not mentioning it to one another, we simultaneously passed each other at the foot of the bed to fix the other person’s mistakes.  Now, I let him make the bed while I’m the designated sheet changer. 😊 Obviously, this is a metaphor for focusing on “the splinter in your neighbor’s eye while overlooking the plank in your own.”  Humor is so important, too!

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4. It takes two wholes to make a marriage.

We knew our marriage was a sacred vow when we received premarital counseling from our pastor and are even more convinced fifty years later.  Because Ken and I wanted our marriage to last, we had to let it be a fluid, evolving relationship.  While remaining faithful to one another, we learned that we each needed to have the freedom to be who God called us to be.  As my wise Aunt Billie shared, “God is first in our lives and then comes our spouse and family.”  A marriage relationship is much richer and more fun when two whole people form a union.  It’s a great thing to support your loved one in happiness and success.


5. Grow together with God.      

Couples devotions, even if only for ten or fifteen minutes a day, as well as regular church attendance are very important to our marriage.  We need and cherish the opportunity to be grounded in God’s love, grace, and community.

It seems I overflow with clichés.  Anyway, here goes another…  “Come grow old(er!) with me, the best is yet to be.”  Ken and I are amazed by how fast the years have flown.  We feel that while our marriage hasn’t been perfect, here we are.  As we like to say to one another, “You’re still the one!”  We feel so blessed and look forward to making even more joyful memories.

Lord of love, lead us in the dance of marriage. May we be grateful for the gift of such love and recognize the masterpiece you have created in our spouse. Give us the courage to apologize boldly and the grace to extend forgiveness generously. May every year our love for you and one another grow as our hearts proclaim “you’re still the one.” Amen.

Donna Daly, guest author, has served in a wide variety of roles at Saint Luke from Sunday School to the Prayer team. She is also an active member of our senior and bell choir. Kenneth Daly, encourager and listener, too has served in a variety of ways. He participates in Donuts & Discussions regularly, and you are sure to be warmly welcomed by him on your way into Saint Luke, as he serves as a “grinner and greeter.”