Last week I spent an afternoon with a couple who have been married 50+ years. Their life is a true example of how encouraging your spouse – supporting with joy-filled zeal – makes life rich and fulfilling.

They began their married life when they were quite young – at least compared to today’s couples. They had three children, one of whom is hearing impaired.

Carrying on over the next 50 years, they built their first house together, fought for changes in state policy for the deaf, grew a congregation as a minister and wife, and took care of an elderly parent in their home. In addition, the wife returned to college to get an undergraduate degree and then a masters degree, once the children were grown. They also traveled the globe, and have done things many of us haven’t attempted yet.

As I sat listening, I heard how working together in areas that they valued brought them both laughter, joy and tangible success.

From the story of how she got a wheel-barrow for her birthday because they were building their first home, to how he would pick her up at her job and take her to college classes, then drive her back to her job (making sure she had a packed lunch to eat), to venturing out of their comfort zone and going white-water rafting when they were in their sixties – those stories showed me a picture of two people working together to make a great life.

They didn’t count the cost of the effort they put into their marriage.

There are two things this couple wanted me to communicate to other married people:

1) trust is the most important part of marriage

2) each spouse must give 100% to the marriage (not 50/50) 100% from him & 100% from her

So what is the result of their trust in each other and each gifting the other 100% ? They have a marriage story showing tangible results echoing their values:

  • marriage – a solid, growing marriage relationship of over 50 years
  • personal growth – the freedom for each to develop and pursue their desires and interests
  • faith – they attend, now in retirement, the same congregation they were instrumental in growing
  • education – a degree and master’s degree
  • family involvement – the satisfaction of nurturing a parent until she passed away
  • advocacy – a state organization of parents advocating for their deaf children
  • improving the world for their children – changes in state legislation in how deaf children are educated
  • hard work – a house that still stands which they built together
  • adventure – they have travel and life experiences to share

Guess what? This couple isn’t done yet! They’re ready for more together, and I’m sure they’ll do it all with joy-filled zeal.

I have a lot to learn from them.