Introduction by Kevin McConaghy
70 years is a long time. 70 years ago, in 1945, soldiers were just coming back from World War II; the U.S. consisted of 48 states; and the Cubs were actually in the World Series (they lost, leading to the fabled “Curse of the Billy Goat”).
It’s also when my grandparents got married.
John and Helen Bloss were married on October 25, 1945, in Kingfisher, OK, just a few blocks from where they now live today.
Needless to say, not many people ever celebrate a 70th wedding anniversary. It’s the kind of thing where you get letters from the President and the state legislature passes special resolutions in your honor.
Since The Porch has been talking about dating and how younger people today can make choices that will lead to a lasting marriage, I thought, why not ask the real experts on the subject? John and Helen graciously agreed to share some tips on how to stay married for 70 years (and counting). They each wrote their own response without reading what the other had to say first; I’ve consolidated their answers below.
How to Stay Married for 70+ Years
By John and Helen Bloss
Get old. I guess I would first say the obvious: you have to live to be 90+…and we have done that! A couple of days ago I was thumbing through a catalog and saw a knit shirt with the words “So far this is the oldest I’ve ever been.” We had a big laugh over it.
Be satisfied with what you have. In every relationship, and especially marriage, there come rough spots. Economics is one. When we were married, one of us (John) still had 5 years of higher education yet to go. We “lived on a shoestring” in a very small apartment near the university where the rent was $5 a week. I (Helen) had a full-time job, which at that time paid a fairly good salary: $75 a month. We didn’t have a car at first and used the city bus, which was very economical. My parents were farmers/ranchers so they helped us by giving us meat occasionally. After John graduated from seminary and was hired as a pastor, we lived in a parsonage and didn’t have rent. And, we grew a vegetable garden. You can see from this that we lived very frugally. But we were satisfied with what we had and were happy together.
“Together” is an important word. We never made big decisions alone. We did that together to see what the other was feeling about an idea. I remember once when Ruth (our youngest daughter) asked permission to do a certain thing…then added “Yes, I know, you have to see first what daddy thinks.”
“Divorce” was never an accepted word when we got married. I would say to young people: if you are not sure about the other person and think, “well, if it doesn’t work out we can always get a divorce”…don’t marry him/her.
Communication must always be clear, honest, and NOT in angry words. Folks have a tendency to say things they shouldn’t when they are mad.
Truth, trust, and faith are the foundation of every worthwhile relationship. Without any one of those principles, no relationship can endure what the world throws at a family.
Marry someone you know. I know there are untold numbers of organizations that try to help individuals find the “perfect match” for their clients. They may be fine for the insecure, or shy, but we found it better to do our own “investigation.” It only took two years.
Be a part of the Church. There are at least two kinds of family: one God gives you by bloodlines, and then the family you create by being involved in a community of faith.
Understand what “love” really means. Love that holds marriage together for many years is not what seems to be common today. Young and old have confused sexual intercourse for love. It isn’t. It does produce massive numbers of pregnancies, thousands of abortions, and the destruction of self-respect and positive attitudes toward life.
It’s about commitment. When you get married, you are asked several times about your commitment to one another, and for any offspring you may have. Lasting marriage requires faithfulness to the vows made before humankind and before God. Don’t make yourself a liar! But remember God is a forgiving judge!
You can’t control how long you live (though you can control whether you make choices that sabotage your health). You can’t control what storms will come, though it’s guaranteed there will be storms (1 Corinthians 7:28). What you can control, and what makes a lasting marriage possible, is how you respond to those storms and stay committed to loving each other.