Note: Today’s post is based on an interview with my husband’s Grandparents Ron and Helen Vesterfelt (who are my grandparents now too!) After sixty years of marriage, they’re happier than ever, which is why I asked them if they would share some of their wisdom with us. They kindly agreed. Here is what they told me.
I dial their number and giggle to myself as Helen calls her husband Ron to the phone.
“Ron, you can shut TV off!” she yells to him from across the room, and waits as he looks for the other phone. “Grab the cordless,” she tells him, at which point he informs her that she’s holding the cordless phone.
They have marriage way more figured out than we do, but even after sixty years, it sounds pretty much the same.
“We have our list all ready for you sweetheart,” she says to me.
“What list?” he says.
We all laugh.
Over the next 30 minutes, they told me what they have done that has made their marriage work, and work well, over the last 60-years. They’re as in love now as they’ve ever been.
We made a commitment to love God first.
“Mark 12:30 says to love God with all of your heart, mind and soul, which are all things you need to make a marriage work.” They emphasized that they don’t even know how they would have ever made it without relying on the Lord to fuel their hearts, souls and minds for marriage.
We love and respect one another.
She says, “I’ve learned to show respect and submit to him. He makes it easy because he loves me as Christ loves the church, but I also trust him. I trust that he won’t ask me to do anything that isn’t good for me.”
We tell the truth.
“I can only remember lying to him one time,” Helen told me. “It was about money and I felt so guilty afterward I just had to tell him the truth. I think I lied because I was afraid. He’s conservative with money, and I’m not so conservative, and I worried he would be angry with me for spending without talking to him.”
“The funny thing is,” she said, “he wasn’t angry. I just needed to be honest with him. When I confessed to him, I felt so much better. I don’t ever make big purchases without talking to him anymore.”
They emphasized that, when they got married, they committed to be One in Christ.
“How can we do that if we’re not being honest with each other?”
We use humor.
“I love his humor. I loved it when I met him and I love it today,” Helen told me. “We have fun together and that’s important.”
We agreed on training of our children & discipline (and other things)
If I were going to title this section I would call it, “We fought for unity,” because I think it applies to all couples, weather they have kids or not. But since it’s not my blog post, I’ll leave their title. After 60-years, they’ve earned it!
“We always agreed on how we were going to act before we did it,” they said.
Helen said that when it came to disciplining the kids, she never said, “you’re going to get it when dad gets home!” She disciplined as much as her husband did. Even thought she was physically smaller than her boys as they got older, they learned to respect her because they saw how Ron respected her.
“They learned to respect us because of how we respected each other,” they said.
When it comes to resolving conflict in general, they have a vow to never go to sleep angry with one another.
“I’ve tried to sleep on the couch a couple of times,” she told me, “but he comes out and picks me up.”
“Besides,” she says, “I kinda like sleeping with him.”
“Sometimes you come to a compromise, and sometimes you agree to disagree,” they told me, “but you just love each other through it.”
“I don’t push him,” she said. “It’s not worth it to me. Especially as I grow older. The contention just isn’t worth it.”
We never used the word divorce in our marriage.
“We were committed to each other until death to us part,” they told me.
They even joked that killing each other was more of an option than divorce was.
“When we bought our marriage license it didn’t have an expiration date,” Ron said. “So I didn’t treat it that way.
I thanked them for their time and thoughtfulness as we closed the conversation, but they said they wanted to say one more thing. The Lord knows and picks the perfect spouse for us, they said.
It might not always feel like the perfect spouse at the time, because their actions touch on our insecurities, and that hurts, but God knows us better than anyone else, he wants what is good for us, and He gives us the spouse he wants us to have.
“All my kids are just right for their mates” Helen said. “God is so good.”
Question: I challenge you to call someone who has been married for longer than you have, ask them for their #1 piece of advice, and post it here.