I was struck that they are a godly couple that has a long marriage that is ending well, and as a young wife, I want their advice and perspective! So, I wrote and asked for advice for a young couple.
Uncle Hal wrote back that their marriage hadn't been the ideal, happy relationship and that they'd both made their share of mistakes. But, he said, the 'secret':
...Lay in the willingness of each of us to forgive, sometimes (perhaps often) even before it was requested. We had to learn that through hard experience, of course - it doesn't come easily to most of us, but the alternative makes for unhappiness for both parties, and that's much worse.(emphasis mine)
Ruth and I both grew up in Christian families, and we were both seriously committed believers, ourselves. That, too, was a big factor. It's a cliche, but important: the word 'divorce' had been banished from our vocabularies. It was never an option; we had problems, but with the Lord's help, we would eventually get past them. And, we did - with the Lord's help. (We only find it possible to forgive, by his grace!)
God has blessed Ruth's and my relationship especially in these last couple of years. (that's the real secret of our happy marriage!) Ruth agrees, this is the most joy filled part of our now 60+ years, because of what God is doing for us!
This is a mystery, isn't it? That at 60+ years of marriage and the struggles of old age, the marriage has only increasingly been filled with love and joy. In our culture we tend to think that you find love at its best when you are young and newly in love and you endure each other when you are old. Perhaps we have it upside down?
I have been pondering these words the last few months. I want to learn from those that are older and wiser and have been through the things that we young couples face for the first time.