Today – July 4,2015 – my siblings and I have reached an amazing milestone! With the celebration of our youngest sister Cynthia and her husband Rob’s 17th anniversary today (yes, they married on the 4th of July…what a brilliant way to guarantee fireworks every year on your anniversary!)…the four of us Borden children have together achieved 100 years of faithful and committed “til death do us part” marriage!
The eldest sister Caroline has been married to her husband Mike for 30 years, Dan and I have been married for 28 years, our brother Cliff and his beautiful wife Lynda just celebrated their 25th anniversary this past week and Cynthia and Rob are on their way to Hawaii as I write this for their 17th anniversary!
30+28+25+17 = 100
Yes, between the four of us that is 100 years of marriage. And honestly even just a few short years ago I wouldn’t have thought all that much about the mileage of marriage in our family. But as we counsel more and more couples both prior to marriage, during a marriage crisis as well as those whose marriages didn’t make it and they are now trying to successfully navigate co-parenting, I am realizing how very rare lifelong marriages are becoming and how even fewer families have all of their parents and siblings marriages also intact.
So how has this happened? And can I in any way influence my own children to “go the distance” in their future marriages so that someday they can be celebrating 100 years of combined marriages as siblings?
Well to be honest with you, I am not sure…as much as my “make it happen” recovering control freak personality screams “Let’s do this”… in reality I do not have much control over this at all for my children other than passing on the blessing of choosing a lifelong marriage for myself. In many ways I believe that although the four of us did make good choices, we have also been the recipients of the blessing of lifelong marriage that has been passed down to us for generations!
The four of us Borden children were raised in a home and given the example of a lifelong marriage from our parents – Ed & Gloria Borden – who were married for 35 years until our fathers early death at 59 years old. They both believed in marriage “til death do us part” and divorce or even separation were never mentioned in our home. We knew that no matter what problems they went through that they would weather the storm together. They never neglected their marriage relationship but nurtured it through regular date nights, attending church and worshipping as a family (this has much more staying power than most people realize), growing in their faith together, being a team in raising their children and running the household. They always communicated to us the importance of picking the “right” person to marry because outside of committing our lives to the Lord it was the single most important decision we would ever make. It was also stressed to us that we needed to be “equally yoked” with a believer and that it would be wise to wait until after we earned our college degree to wed.
And we all did just that…took the decision to marry seriously, married believers and completed college prior to getting married. And the most amazing thing (that none of us were likely thinking much about when we married) is that we all married spouses whose parents also had “til death do us part” marriages. Mike’s parents have been married 61 years and counting, Dan’s parents 59 years and counting, Lynda’s parents were married 46 years until her mother went to be with the Lord and Rob’s parents 51 years before his father passed away. When I realized this almost unbelievable feat I decided to take a look a little farther back and realized that almost all of us had both sets of grandparents who stayed committed to their marriage vows as well. (out of our 10 grandparent marriages only 1 was divorced) At that moment I began to understand how much we had all been given of the blessing of lifelong marriage. While our personal choices do matter we all were divinely blessed, before we even married, by the choices and actions of our parents and grandparents! Look at these impressive numbers!
Mike & Caroline = 30 years
Parents Marriages = 96 years
Grandparents Marriages = 198 years
Total combined years of lifelong marriage commitment = 324 years
Dan & Beth = 28 years
Parents Marriages = 94 years
Grandparents Marriages = 146 years
Total combined years of lifelong marriage commitment = 268 years
Cliff & Lynda =25 years
Parents Marriages = 81 years
Grandparents Marriages = 188 years
Total combined years of lifelong marriage commitment = 294 years
Cynthia & Rob = 17 years
Parents Marriages = 86 years
Grandparents Marriages = 188 years
Total combined years of lifelong marriage commitment = 291 years
Wow! Wow! Wow! That is a whole lot of years of marriage commitment. How awesome that our combined 16 children (so far) will begin their married lives with that type of heritage and the blessing of lifelong marriage passed down to them from at least three generations.
“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you!” Deuteronomy 30:15-16
Our parents and grandparents choose lifelong marriage and because of that they were blessed and they created the firm foundation for their children, grandchildren and great children to be blessed! Do not think for a minute that it has been easy or smooth sailing along the way…all of these couples including our marriages have experienced hardship, loss and struggle. There have been times of sickness, disease, disability, the devastation of the death of a child, infertility, financial crisis, separation, deployments, anger, disagreements, displacement, job loss, career change, mid life crisis, rebellious wayward children and more. But they and we have stuck it out…no matter what…and because of that we have received the multiple blessings of lifelong marriage.
- the blessing of companionship – having a person who is always there for you, a partner in every game and for every dance, a date for every event, a friend to share life’s greatest joys as well as disappointments, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, a warm cozy body to share your bed and someone to together bear the burden of the responsibilities and hardships of life
- the blessing of shared memories – what a beautiful thing to walk with someone who remembers together all of your life’s greatest triumphs, happiest moments, beautiful vacations and trips as well as the overwhelming challenges and biggest losses. Someone who knew your parents or other loved ones before they died and who knows all the influential people in your life. Photos that never have to be “cut out of” your child’s wedding slide show or your retirement party because you are no longer married to that person
- the blessing of peaceful family get togethers – not having to worry about who to invite to what or who can sit next to who or potential volatile explosions between ex spouses (it must be exhausting!)
- the blessing of solid security – knowing that your marriage is safe despite what is going on around you…this will always be there. Changing, evolving, growing…yes! But stable, consistent and never ending. This is a blessing for both the spouse and children
- the blessing of fulfilling your vows to your spouse and to God – I believe keeping your vows is a pretty big thing to God and that He will honor that in ways we may not even see here on this earth
- the blessing of obeying the Lord – “You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flockswill be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.” Deuteronomy 28:2-6
- the blessing of looking back on a life well lived – we always encourage people to think about what they want to look back upon when they are at the end of their life. What they want to see? A strong faithful lifelong marriage or the devastation of divorce and all that it brings (no one has ever said “I’d like to be divorced”)
- the blessing of giving your children, your nieces & nephews, your grandchildren and all those within your sphere of influence an example of a lifelong marriage to inspire and motivate them to do the same.
Yes, the blessings are clearly abundant…and sadly the curses of failed marriages are also abundant and painful.
<3 To my parents and grandparents I want to say THANK YOU for giving me the blessing, inspiration and example of lifelong marriage commitment
<3 To my children and nieces…do not take for granted your heritage and blessing that is being passed on to you. Pray, make good choices and ask for the Lord to continue this blessing on to you and your children and your children’s children
<3 To all who are unmarried….if you too have the heritage of lifelong marriage,,,give thanks! If not, break any generational curses of divorce that may be passed down to you and ask for the Lord to bless you with a lifelong marriage! Choose wisely your life partner and be sure they love the Lord above all else
<3 To those already divorced…forgive, repent, make things right if you can, break the curse over your life, commit to living a godly life and ask the Lord to bless your obedience (and if you have children pray over them and break the curse as well)
<3 To my married friends…nurture your marriage daily, recommit to your vows and be faithful to your spouse, press on, stay the course, keep your eyes on the goal and if you are in need of help…get it NOW! The blessing of a lifelong marriage will be worth it
<3 and finally to my amazing siblings and their wonderful spouses who I love dearly…Congratulations on our joint accomplishment and milestone. I think this calls for a GRAND celebration sometime soon!