Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Reflections on 40 Years of Marriage

June 15, 1968

40 years is a very long time. I think I have learned somethings along the way that I would like to record. Marriage is a process of becoming one with the person you love. It takes a long time and it is a lot of work. I wouldn't trade the experience for the world and everything in it.

It is not work to love the other person~it is work to change and mold yourself into a better partner. I think we all spend far too much time trying to change our partner to be more like us. This totally defeats the purpose of two~ as then one of you would be unnecessary. The changes that come in molding two lives together can only be wrought by changing yourself. As long as you try to change your spouse you are not progressing, you are not even standing still, you are digressing. However, ironically, when you change, it changes your partner's behavior too.

Some things will never change except for your attitude towards them. That is OK, you are two different people. Acceptance of the things that probably won't change will release a lot of tension and makes things better all the way around. This is a lesson best learned early on.

What I have just recently begun to really get is that the differences are very enhancing to a relationship if you are one in purpose. Not unlike our understanding of our Heavenly Father and Jesus~separate beings with a common purpose. When I look at our children I see so much of their Dad's influence in the fantastic people they are. Two people coming together with various assets, characteristics and abilities is nothing but a positive thing for the children in a marriage. Even if some of the things are negative, the children still learn how they want to be different than mom or dad when they grow up. It seems to be the point that each generation should improve upon the preceding one.

It helps if you have a lot in common but if you don't~branch out and learn to like some things that may not appeal to you personally ~for your spouse's sake, but more importantly for the relationship's sake. It is not independence or dependence that you should be seeking but interdependence. Each person should be strong in their own right, doing their part and fulfilling their stewardships to create the best whole.

We all need to be forgiving and live without regrets. By trying to do the things we should and refraining from the things that we should not do, IF we have a common foundation (like the Gospel) we cannot help but move closer to each other. And I think we need to give each other time to learn and grow, realizing that this process of becoming one takes a long long time to perfect. So unity, kindness, patience, love and forgiveness rate high on the list.

Courtesy and kindness will do more to enhance a marriage than just about anything else. We are all always battling within to tame our own selfishness, and nothing quite refines that in a person like a marriage. You simply have to think outside yourself to succeed in one.

I think the little things in marriage are extremely important to its longevity. Being greeted with a hug and a kiss when you come home or leave, holding hands in a movie, doing little favors for each other, calling to say hi in the middle of the day, a smile, a know the kind of things I mean. Those little things help cement in your heart a desire to do well in the big, loyalty fidelity, service, etc.

One thing I know for sure. All the struggle is worth the effort. I wouldn't change much about the past 40 years. A few things, yes...but for the most part it has been very good. I love Jim with all my heart just the way he is. He is a great husband and father and professional and servant to all. Even though we are very different...he is perfect for me. We are also so alike in many ways and we notice this more and more as we get older. We are kind of like scrambled eggs at this point...after all the mixing it is hard to separate where I end and he begins and vice versa.

Do we drive each other crazy sometimes...of we fight...rarely. Do we try hard to be good to each other...definitely, a resounding yes. This is a great time in our lives when we are really enjoying our family and the courses we have set for our life together. We are looking forward to our retirement, our mission and being with our kids and grandkids. Life is good. God has richly blessed us. As one person put it~the days are long but the years are short. So true~where have these 40 years gone, anyway?


Miss Jen said...

Happy 40th this week guys! We love you!

Jim said...

I love you Bonnie Jo!!
We are a great match. I always knew (and still do) that YOU were The One for me...The One I wanted to be with above anyone else...The One I wanted to be the mother of our childern...The One I will grow old with.
Thank you for being who you are. I love you more than ever and I am soooo happy that you like younger men...I'll try to keep up.

Loving you now and for ever.