9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. ~ Mark 10:9 (KJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash
I think the State of Tennessee is onto something good. If you’ll participate in 4 hours of pastoral counseling before your wedding, they’ll give you a big discount on the cost of your marriage license. I don’t know if it will help cut down on the divorce rate there, but it surely couldn’t hurt anything.
Last year a young man from my congregation was marrying a lovely young woman from Tennessee. They came to my house for the prerequisite pre-marital counseling. He asked me how many years Susan and I had been married, and I told him that we had been married for 30 years. “Thirty happy years, right Brother John?” he replied.
I think they were shocked by my answer. “No, we haven’t had thirty happy years,” I said. “Maybe 27 happy years. Or maybe only 25. It depends if you count pieces of years. And how you define ‘happy’.”
The young man went to his mother’s home and asked her if she thought I was kidding him. She told him,“If Brother John told you that, he probably wasn’t teasing. Marriage isn’t easy. And true love doesn’t always run smooth.”
Susan and I have had more good days (and years) than bad ones. We’ve had much more joy than sadness. But there’ve been some rough patches, too. Serious problems. Maybe we even (briefly) thought about getting divorced. It’s been especially hard because we’ve always had to work out problems on our own. When you’re the preacher and his wife, you don’t really advertise that you’re not getting along.
So I think one of the best things we can do is to be honest with young married couples. True love doesn’t always run smoothly. But with some work (and the grace of God) most things can be worked out.
Well, Susan and I went to that young couple’s wedding in Tennessee. At the reception, the DJ said that all the married couples had to get up and dance, so Susan and I did. After that, he started thinning out the crowd; everybody married for less than 5 years had to sit down, and then everybody who had been married less than 10 years had to sit down.
Finally, he had all the couples who had been married less than 30 years sit down. Susan and I looked around, and we were left with about five other couples.
It was a really cool feeling to be numbered among the couples who had beaten the odds, weathered the storms, and stayed together. I told Susan, “I sure am glad we didn’t bust up.”
Then Susan started crying. I hope that was because she was happy, too.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the calendar says “Autumn” but the thermometer says “92 Degrees”.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.