She was only seventeen.
Young, strong and determined.
He was 19 and enlisted in the Navy.
But they were both in love and so they married. They soon started their family and were blessed with four children: two daughters and two sons. As he was quite the adventurer – bush pilot, missionary, and pioneer – their lives were never dull. And she was always right there by his side.
She looked after him. She stood by him. And she loved him through it all.
Eventually I met and married their youngest son and so I got to call them Dad and Mom too.
Now those two have been married for 60 years. SIXTY years. (Hard to believe, isn’t it?)
But it’s even better than that. They’ve not only stayed married….they still love each other after all this time.
Still snuggle. Still hold hands. And still kiss each other good night.
It’s like nothing ever changed.
Except that much has changed.
Because a few years ago Mom started showing the signs of Alzheimer’s. She grew increasingly forgetful, confused, and troubled. She got mixed-up and wandered. She no longer recognized many of us, including her beloved husband.
I asked Dad if it ever bothered him that she sometimes forgets him. Calls him, “That Man”. He just smiled lovingly, “No, because I will always remember her.”
We cared for Mom as long as possible, but that heartbreaking day came a few months ago when we realized we could no longer take care of her and found a Memory Care Home nearby.
And Dad cried.
We all cried.
Now every day he goes to visit her. He’s 80 years old and he drives over to see her – morning and night. He makes sure her clothes are washed, her room is clean and that she’s eating properly. The two of them sit in the evenings holding hands and listen to old hymns together because it calms her wandering mind.
Dad looks after her. He stands by her. And he loves her through it all.
The Secret Behind 60 Years of a Loving Marriage
So I recently asked Dad what was their secret of enjoying marriage all these years. Here’s his answer in his own words . . . .
1. Follow Life’s Manual. We were saved a few years after we were married and then we had Life’s Manual, the Bible. We knew that we were to love one another as God loves us.
2. Become a Great Forgiver. My wife is a great forgiver. Many times over the 60 years of marriage, the words would come from the heart, “Would you forgive me one more time?” and she would give me grace and forgiveness.
3. Don’t Keep Score. Neither of us kept score of wrongs committed. We would take care of the problems and let the past be the past. We did not dig them up again, we left them buried.
4. Cultivate Togetherness. We were best friends. We teased, joked, played, loved, and helped each other. Vacationed together, hunted, camped, and fished.
5. Stay by His Side. We dreamed together, planned together. My wife would always yield if I wanted to move North, become a missionary, a pastor, home-builder. She was always with me by my side in everything we did – encouraging me to go for it.
Did we have some rocky times? You bet we did, but always we came back to Life’s Manual, the Bible, where we would read: Love one another as Christ loved you. Forgive as Christ forgave you. Keep looking forward and let the past be the past. Pray for one another and be kind.
Yes, it was God who kept this marriage together. We give Him the glory. ~ Donald L. Jacobson
A few days ago Dad and I went together to visit Mom. When it came time to leave, I stepped back as he bent over to kiss her goodbye—slowly and sweetly on the lips. A kiss I don’t think even she could forget.
A kiss I’m sure I won’t ever forget.
In His grace,
Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women
*Matthew’s parents came to live with us over 15 years ago. Their lives and love for each other have been a testimony and a blessing to our entire family. We thank God for this dear, faithful couple.