Our marriage that day in 1977 set into motion many things.
Certainly from our union came our children.
And our grandchildren. But there's much more to marriage than that.
It all began on a bright and sunny November day 35 years ago.
So, what has kept us together over these three and a half decades?
People have asked us "What's your secret?"
Well, I can tell you what has not worked over these years and maybe that's a good place to start - maybe that's the secret people need to know.
When Susan and I were first married, we thought two things were true, which in reality, are not true:
1. That our marriage should be a 50-50 proposition and
2. That marriage would make us happy.
Strange things to say? (In actuality, both statements sound like they should make sense, but they don't.)
Here's why: Marriage has nothing to do with being in a partnership of 50-50. It's not a contract. It's not a win-win relationship. Instead, it is a covenant. Marriage as a covenant was made by God, the Bible says, to make us holy, not happy. And covenant demands that something must die.
(The side-bar of this point is that a couple may indeed find a deep joy and experience happiness, but in God's economy, that just may not be the main goal.)
Essential to every marriage of a man and a woman is that they represent God and his bride.
Say what? Yep, marriage was created by God, not by man, so it can't be amended by man, either. And each marriage exists to help us see the more eternal things of God's heart for people. For all mankind.
For all time to represent God's heart for mankind.
The Bible is clear that the many covenants in it involve the death of something. Marriage is a covenant. So what is the "death" that enters into a marriage? It is when Dennis and Susan realize that they must give 100% - regardless of what I want - that both must die to their own desires.
In our marriage, Susan and I came to understand that each of us love the Lord more than we love each other. And I LOVE Susan. I would give my life willingly for her, as she would for me. God's heart is that he would die for his bride (the church) and he did - on the cross. He died for the whole world and for all of creation - that the decaying world around us would be renewed. Forever.
Now this all sounds very religious - but please hear me on this: it has nothing to do with religion - it has everything to do with our relationships, with each other and with God.
Think of every marriage-fight that erupts. It normally involves the infringement on someones rights by the other spouse. It could involve money or sex or child-rearing. But it always involves the bruising of one spouse by the other. Small pains can become large, when added up, day after day. Month after month. Until it eventually explodes.
"I want my rights!" says one spouse to another. Or both say that same thing to each other...
Yet, if marriage involves death and I am a "dead-man" to my rights, then my arguments and anger-flashes have no place in our marriage from me. Neither do they have a place from Susan.
Holiness happens. So do happiness and joy.
For 35 years. Spread the secret.
One other thing - when I married my bride, I decided to always refer to her as that. The term "wife" never seemed to fit.
I decided at that early date to tell my bride every day one simple sentence: "I love you."