I’ve been happily married 17 years. That’s not bad out of 25.
Milton “Fritz” Wall at his 25th Wedding Anniversary Celebration
Today my dad might say he’s been happily married for 43 years, which isn’t bad out of 60. Sixty years. Not bad. For Fritz and Carol it’s not just a matter of being alive for that long. They actually enjoyed it, which is the whole point. Their thought all along is if you are going to be married you may as well enjoy the journey. And they have. Researchers break marriages into these different categories. If people liked their marriages, those marriages are called “successful”; if they didn’t like their marriages they are called “unsuccessful.” Fritz and Carol’s marriage would be called “successful”. It would also qualify as “long-term.” If they were interviewed for the secret of their “success”, they might say the following:
Laugh hard and often at pretty much everything.
Make others laugh.
Laugh at your husband’s joke, even if you’ve heard them a hundred times.
Tease each other.
Tease the kids.
Tease the waitress or any stranger at any opportune moment.
Or if you aren’t teasing the waitress or stranger, make a funny statement or tell a joke.
The reason for laughter or teasing or jokes is to show others and yourself that God is in control and He made the universe and He saved you when He sent Jesus to die on the cross and Jesus really did rise from the dead and He really is coming back someday and it may be very soon and this is all a happy thought and when you laugh or make somebody laugh you are showing them that life is worth living and that we are not alone and there is a reason to live beyond just the here and now, and whatever you are going through, no matter how bad, it is just a shadow, just a vapor passing, compared to the incomparable greatness of knowing Christ and sharing eternity and if you joke around with somebody, even a stranger you’ve never met nor will ever meet again, you are showing that person that they matter, and they matter because all of these things about eternity and God and Jesus and the Bible and heaven and hell are true and we all have a destiny and if you believe that God created all of this, even this stranger or waitress in front of you, how can you not simply enjoy that person and how can you not want to convey to that person that they matter, because teasing or joking shows the other person that they matter to God and if they matter to God, then they matter to you, and if you show them that they matter, you are giving them a little taste of heaven, and maybe, just maybe, they will ask themselves, why would this total stranger want to be nice to me and make a joke, when all I am is a waitress or a stranger in a restaurant or in a line at the county fair?
What a complete waste of time to be a Christian and not enjoy your life and laugh at life’s challenges.
How can anyone call himself a Christian, who is a sourpuss and can’t see the infinite frolick in everyday life? Being sad and being a Christian is a complete oxymoron and makes no sense.
Take naps on Sunday afternoons or any other time you can squeeze one in.
Help with the dishes, without being asked.
Give a lot of your money away to the church and to mission organizations and to orphans and charities and the boy scouts when they come to your door.
Write letters and send pictures to the orphan that you’ve promised to send money to every month. Read the orphan letters to your kids. Rejoice twenty years later when your orphan goes to medical school. Fly to South Korea to visit your orphan in his success and be treated like royalty.
Tip the newspaper boy.
Mow your lawn when it’s too long.
Don’t ever clean your garage.
Grill hamburgers outside when it’s warm.
Grill hamburgers inside in the fireplace when it’s cold outside.
Play lots of table games.
Lament the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Gophers.
Every December send Christmas cards with a mimeographed letter about your year to everyone you know. Read everyone’s letter they send you. Post all of their pictures on the refrigerator. Leave the pictures up all year.
Go to church on Sunday. Enjoy it. Teach Sunday School. Laugh and joke with the people at church. Enjoy them. Don’t gossip about them later. Comment how helpful the pastor’s sermon was.
Teach Sunday School for twenty-five years at a rundown, closed church in an impoverished little town that has no organized church or pastor or school or grocery store, only one junk yard. Visit these people in the little town. Invite their children to Sunday School. Have Bible School with these kids for a whole week every summer. At the program on Friday night serve red cool-aide and homemade cookies. Invite these kids to Bible Camp. Pay for them to go. Pick them up and take them to Bible Camp. Cook all week for free at Bible Camp. Host the Thursday Wiener Roast at Bible Camp for years. Speak at their childrens’ funerals. Be invited to their graduations. Be visited by them randomly for decades to come. Be viewed by the people in this community as the pastor and pastor’s wife even though he was never ordained or studied at seminary, let alone Bible College.
Go to church on Sunday night. Church is more important than “the World of Disney”. Make the kids go even though they complain and moan. Totally ignore their complaining and moaning. Take them anyway.
Have a party and company on any and all occasions. Make everyone feel at home. Make everyone laugh. Tell lots of stories. Funny stories. Serve lots of food.
Pray before meals.
Read your Bible. Give your kids Bibles. Ask your kids if they’ve read their Bibles.
Go to all of your kids’ ballgames, both in town and away games, no matter what day or time they are. Be the only fan at away day football games. Stand solitarily and solidarily at the away side and cheer vociferously. See the football players smile that they have at least one fan.
Go to every conceivable family function no matter how far away or inconvenient.
Don’t ever complain to your kids or anyone else about your husband or wife or any of your kids. Only say nice things about your kids to other people.
Never say anything negative about your kids or spouse or anyone else except Democrats.
Pray sincerely for the president, even when he’s a Democrat.
If this is your father or mother, be very, very proud and feel very, very fortunate. Tell other people how they, too, can have a marriage that they enjoy. Spread the joy. Repeat.