50 Years Of Marriage
When Rebecca and I were married fifty years ago, we had only a glimmer of what the future would hold. She had graduated from Dallas Bible College, and I had already spent a year teaching at the Briercrest Bible College in Saskatchewan, Canada. We met at a church in Dallas while I was in seminary and later began a courtship by letter. We got married in Dallas and then drove to Canada where I taught for one more year. The details of how God led us from Canada to Chicago, and to The Moody Church, are in and of themselves a story of the providence of God.
Rebecca and I tell our story in the video, The Story Of Our Marriage: 50 Years Of God’s Faithfulness. We gave this interview not only to show how God led us but also to share lessons we learned along the way. We’ve had fifty years of learning, growing, and increasing in our appreciation for one another. I’ve discovered that only about six percent of all marriages celebrate fifty years together due to death and divorce. We consider ourselves most fortunate and blessed.
We came from different backgrounds with different expectations for what marriage was all about. I was raised on a farm in Canada with Christian parents who loved us, prayed through their hardships, and encouraged us to follow the Lord. Rebecca grew up in a dysfunctional Christian family and endured years of poverty and abuse. Her mother’s chronic illnesses forced Rebecca to take on the heavy responsibility of caring for her brothers and sisters at an early age. We had to learn that although marriage made us “one,” we would continue to be two individuals who had to give each other space to grow into who God meant for us to be.
“Marriage,” someone has said, “is two people solving problems together that they would never have had if only they had stayed single!” Yes, in this interview, Rebecca and I share how we solved problems “together,” and despite the challenges of marriage, we have lived to see God’s faithfulness in many different ways.
Rebecca and I grieve over several couples we know who were married about the same time we were but who are divorced today. The reasons are many: infidelity, addictions, abuse, or “just growing apart.” Most distressing is when one mate is attracted to another person at work or even in church, and they divorce to “find the happiness” they seek. Children are emotionally destroyed, and home life is disrupted, never to be put back again. The fact that fifty million children will go to bed tonight with only a mother or father in the home is proof that sin has eternal, but also immediate, consequences.
Rebecca and I do not take our journey for granted. We have disagreements, different expectations, and different perspectives. But we are thankful that we have stayed together and that our three daughters have married Christian husbands—so far, giving us eight grandchildren who are being raised in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
The story of our marriage is the story of God’s guidance, the story of His favor given to a couple who is least deserving. I know you will benefit from our story because it is not really our story, but God’s story. With gratitude, we invite you into our home so you can share our journey and thanksgiving to God for leading us “all the way.”
Time-Tested Advice For Couples And Singles
Can you “change” your spouse? Does love grow? What role does prayer play in marriage? And what should singles look for—and avoid—when seeking a mate? Pastor Lutzer offers candid answers.
Q: Fifty years! Why do you think it is important for couples to hear your story?
A: Because there was nothing in our backgrounds to suggest that we would enjoy the blessings and privileges we have had. I think it will give other couples hope; it will remind them that our future is in God’s hands, and He leads us in unpredictable ways. It will help others to remember that all couples have struggles; we all have to grow and learn to accept one another.
Q: You mentioned that you came to “accept one another.” Tell us more.
A: We learned, as all of us must, that it is more important to trust God to change our spouse rather than us doing it! This, of course, does not mean that we don’t help each other grow in our sensitivity to one another’s needs and preferences. I thank God we’re different people than we were fifty years ago! But changes in attitude, perspectives, and expectations take place over time. We had to learn how to work together and accept each other.
Q: Sometimes we hear that the couple’s love grows with age. Is that true?
A: Absolutely. Although we appreciated each other right from the beginning of our relationship, I can say that my appreciation for Rebecca, her diligence, her love for God, and sacrifices—my estimation of who she is as a wife, a mother, and now a grandmother—continues to grow. Rebecca is a gift from God, a priceless treasure of love, respect, and devotion. No wonder the Bible says, “he who finds a wife finds a good thing!”
Q: What about your eight grandchildren? Do you connect with them?
A: Yes, we believe they are our greatest legacy. I have designated one day of the week to pray for each of our grandchildren (I pray for two on Saturday), asking God to save them and show them favor. Now that we are “empty nesters,” we can visit them more often.
Q: What role has prayer had in your marriage?
A: Especially when the children were young, we had a difficult time trying to arrange our schedules to pray together as a family each day. In retrospect, we should have been more intentional in having consistent family devotions. Early on, the children memorized Scripture, and we often prayed after dinner. Of course, one of us always read a story and prayed with them every evening, usually after they were in bed.
Now with our children no longer in the home, Rebecca and I have much more freedom. We each have a time of individual prayer every morning, and then during the day, we spontaneously pray as needs arise. Before I speak anywhere, I ask her to pray for me. I believe that my own ministry has been blessed because of her consistent prayer life. Because Rebecca and I try to stay in emotional harmony, praying together is something we cherish.
Q: Okay, fifty years of marriage. What advice do you have for young couples or the soon-to-be married?
A: To the unmarried: Look for red flags in the relationship that might become a problem later—sexual immorality, laziness, alcoholism, etc. Remember, people do not change just because they get married. Whatever flaws you see in your future spouse will likely be magnified after you say “I do.”
To the married: Whatever struggles exist in your relationship, be honest with yourself before you consider your mate’s faults. Maintain integrity and perseverance. Remember that trials are given by God to sanctify us. They teach us to trust, to forgive, and to develop sensitivity to the needs of others. Learn to invest your lives in one another, and you will experience God’s blessing!