Partnering to the Death (A Marriage Reflection)

It’s been six months since I first met my friends John and Margaret Paine. John and Margaret took vows at a tender age, just like Amber and I did. Their marriage started the way so many do, with hope, promise, and a commitment to love. But what happened along the way? The same things that happen to so many. The details are ordinary. Mundane, even. For clarity, though, let’s name them.

Long hours at the office. The difficulties of raising four children. The death of a business or two. The loss of identity. The churn, church, churn of obligation. 

There were years of disconnection, they’d tell you, years where the only thing holding them together was a commitment to spoken vows. You know this drill, don’t you? You know how life grinds a marriage down to nothing but bone and bone, tethered by vows?

In December, I sat with John and Margaret at their dining room table, the couple now fortyish years into their shared vows. If I were a betting man, I’d bet they’d make it another ten, and not because they’ve not learned the secret of sacred fidelity after all those years (although this much is true). They’ll not make it another ten on account of the terminal nature of life–John’s life to be exact. John is in the last throes of his battle with ALS.

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