Till Death Do Us Part

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Fifty years and more these family members were married.  My Grandparents lived to celebrate their Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary.  I look back to my parents and Grandparents and other relatives with a great deal of respect for the commitment they showed to their spouses.

Fifty years with the same person.  Living and sharing all the joys and sorrows, successes and failures, good times and hard times.   What was their secret to longevity in their relationships with their husbands and wives?   Today marriage seems to be viewed as a short term commitment even though the same vows are given today as they were years ago. 

What makes the relationships less enduring today?   In truth financial deficiencies, and infidelity is not new to marital relationships.  A change in morals seems to be the largest reason.  At one time divorce was not approved of by society and now it is readily accepted as a fact of life.

Today it appears a marriage commitment is only maintained as long as the partners deem it has value, yet the words, "until death do us part" are still used in the marriage ceremony. 

It seems newly weds are very intense in their feelings for one another and for some these feelings disappear over a matter of a few years.  Then you look at those who have been married and committed to each other for long periods of time and you have to wonder is it  that they love each other more than those who opt for divorce?  Did they stay married for other reasons? 

Not having lived fifty years let alone being able to envision fifty years of marriage I admire these couples.  Their devotion and dedication to each other and to their marriage commitment.  Somehow their  honest efforts to maintain a relationship show that their love for one another has strength and endurance.  I know that these couples and others that did keep their vows until death parted them earlier than fifty years understood the meaning of love. 

The best description of  love that I have ever read is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and regardless of religious or non religious affiliations these words sum up the meaning of this emotion.

"Love is patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude.  Love does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable or touchy.  It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.  It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.  If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost.  You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him."

These words hold true for friendships as well as for married couples.  The two key elements that I believe these couples had that allowed them to maintain such long relationships were that they were friends first and shared a love that showed respect for each other, forgiveness of the faults that each had and a commitment to their vows "till death do us part".

To all those couples everywhere that made a vow to each other and maintained it through the years I offer my congratulations.  It is with a great deal of respect and admiration that I offer this tribute to them.  Their ability to endure and keep love alive in their lives is an example to the world that should be recognized.

                          Cheryl C. Helynck


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