…this continues a previous post…
[From Julie] I hope you all enjoyed Wilma’s thoughts yesterday on how to keep God as the center of your marriage. Next up is Phyllis Stanley who is another delightful woman who has been a mentor to many women, me included. She can best be described as the sweetest woman alive. I kid you not. She is also full of wisdom, a wonderful listener and she gives great counsel. Phyllis and John have been married for almost 40 years and they are leaders in our church alongside Wilma and Wayford. They have two beautiful daughters who we love so much. The Stanley’s are also loving the role of grandparents to three lovely children. When I asked her the same question she was more than willing to offer some helpful thoughts. So I’ll let Phyllis take it from here.
In some ways it IS difficult to pinpoint specific things that John and I do to keep our lives together centered on God, because it really is a work in progress all the time, a real process, and I can see how it has evolved over 40 years of marriage and continues to evolve.
Our involvement in the church family has been a key factor for us. This is certainly a great deal more than just regular attendance, although that is part of it. It’s the ongoing discussions about spiritual matters–in the car, in bed at night…really ongoing conversations that are stimulated by church activities, Biblical study, books, articles, media.
Integral to this is the conversation itself…saying what we think and feel without fear of jeopardizing our relationship. This secure feeling comes with time, but it is always couched in love for each other, which is predicated on our love for God. We have always had the practice of actually saying out loud “I love you” often, every day. That never gets old. And honestly, our physical relationship is as important as and more beautiful than the day we were married. I believe this is true BECAUSE of our love for God and the relationship he has created for a man and woman. There is such spiritual dimension to it that can be there only because of God.
I guess a huge part of the picture is the individual commitment to God and to trying to be the man and woman he wants us to be. It is only what each of us brings to the relationship that can help to make it strong, and bringing a soul that firmly believes and is committed to God can only help to fortify the bond we feel with each other.
If you were to ask if there are any regrets from our lives together over the 40 years, I would have to say yes–times when we were less than patient with each other or perhaps were motivated or driven by selfish motives. This is the absolute beauty of both of you wanting to walk in the path of the cross: your love for God and for each other always draws you back to that path As Noel wisely said, it is through our weaknesses (and often failures) that God makes us strongest and uses us best.
Love really and truly does win. Couple that with a constant sense of gratitude and a great sense of humour, and you’ve got a marriage that can last a lifetime!