THE AUTUMN YEARS OF MARRIAGE

Perhaps my greatest earthly support in battling depression is my wife, Dolly. Her unconditional love and loyalty anchor me and remind me of how blessed I am even on days when I’m feeling downcast.  On June 5, 2018 we will celebrate 47 years of marriage bliss (46 years of bliss for me, one for her!).

If you didn’t read it in my blog on 12/29/17, you can find a post titled “How A Spouse Can Help with Depression” by clicking “Blog” on my home page or use the following link.  I used Dolly’s responses to my depression to illustrate appropriate ways any spouse can respond to his or her partner’s despondency.

https://www.penetratingthedarkness.com/2017/12/29/how-can-a-spouse-help-with-depression/

If you’re single and struggle with depression, and marriage someday is a desire, start asking God now for a spouse who will strive to understand you, who won’t judge you spiritually when you have rough days, who’ll pray for you and show affection when you need it most.

If you have a teen or single adult child who’s depression-prone or suffering from a different mental illness, start praying regularly for his or her future spouse, and for the strength and maturity that your child’s spouse will need.

I posted the following article on my old blog 2-3 years ago, but thought I’d send it this Valentine’s Day to affirm the worth of a spouse and the importance of  a long-lasting marriage.

 

A long marriage relationship doesn’t make or break one’s character; it merely exposes it.  Those years constituting middle age and beyond are particularly revealing.  That’s when the kids are in college or living on their own.  The schedule no longer revolves around their school or sports’ activities.  Then you’re forced to focus on the marriage a bit more and evaluate the status of the marriage, since it’s the primary relationship you have left.

Those years bring signs of aging, causing alarm to the extent a person has relied on looks or physical prowess for a sense of significance.  It’s during this phase of life that a marriage either deteriorates or grows stronger, depending on the foundation laid in earlier years and the values that control the man and wife.  Hopefully, marriage between Christians will echo the qualitative relationship reflected in Proverbs 31:10-11: “An excellent wife, who can find?  For worth is far above jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.”

To be sure, failure of the relationship is not inevitable, depending on whether the marriage is analogous to an oak tree or a cedar.  The oak’s leaves turn brown and fall to the ground in the autumn, but the cedar sprouts green shoots year round.  This poem expands the tree analogy a bit further.

The first stanza describes the lifecycle of a tree that loses its leaves, shortly after a  short period of eye-popping beauty.  The last stanza compares marriage to a cedar that doesn’t lose its appearance or change colors with the changing of seasons.

 

MARRIAGE METAPHOR

 

Lush leaves, a tree’s jade dress,

dance with the wind’s caress.

Then with Fall, a change in color:

First, leaves appear much duller.

Then gold or red bleeds from the stem,

draining leaves of all their vim.

Next, a stiff breeze overwhelms.

See them severed from their limbs.

We scrunch them beneath our toes.

Brown. Brittle.  They decompose.

 

Verdant love pulsates with life

between a man and his wife.

Then the autumn years arrive.

Will the warmth of love survive?

Will the glow of vows grow dim

when wrinkles show and they’re not slim?

Will dull routine and things mundane

erode the green and leave just stain?

Will the harsher winds sever

what’s supposed to last forever?

Like leaves, will love take flight?

Make the earth its burial site?

No! True love has its reasons

to thrive in changing seasons.

Not maple, oak, or Bradford pear:

True love is what cedars wear.

 

Is your marriage more like a cedar or an oak?

In your marriage, what must happen now to increase the likelihood of finishing well together?