This is the last post in the short series What Makes a Good Marriage. Or, at least, the last post for now. I would actually LOVE to continue this – there is so much wisdom to be gained from those who have gone before – but alas, not everyone feels confident to step out and write a piece that is going to be publicly posted (and that’s okay!). But if you’re an older woman wanting to share what you know, please do contact me! Remember that you are specifically charged to “teach what is good, and train the young women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:3-4). This is your golden opportunity!
Today we end with some words from my very own grandmother, who was married 64 years. It’s been nearly 10 years since my grandfather passed away and I can still see the depth of her love when she talks about him.
What Makes a Good Marriage?
By Orpha Cade
The Bible says to “Be faithful to your own wife and give love to her alone.” and “The Lord sees everything you do.” (Proverbs 5: 18-23). The fact that Wink and I became “born again” Christians soon after we were married saved our marriage.
I was definitely not free when we got married, for I still had another year of high school, and my mother was depending partly financially on me daily. The letters we were receiving from my dad told us not to expect him to come home alive from Guadalcanal, where he was stationed as a Navy Sea Bee. So Mother was crying, depressed, and when she met Wink, she thought he was her salvation. If Wink and I got married he would take me from Mississippi to California where Mom had always wanted to live.
Perhaps I should mention how a 15 yr. old high school girl met this fellow who was stationed in the nearby Army Air Force Base. Every Sunday afternoon I played the beautiful Grand Piano at the U.S.O. where the soldiers had a free lunch and gathered around the piano to sing. I played all the popular songs of the day, (“I Want A Girl Just Like The Girl Who Married Dear Old Dad”, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”) and lo and behold, Wink asked me when I was leaving if he could walk me home afterward. I told him “No”, that I was going to a Sunday evening Evangelistic service at my church to hear a speaker from out of town. Wink said, “I’ll go with you!” And while walking the seven blocks in pitch dark to my home (Greenville was blacked out due to the war) we discussed the sermon we had heard.
A year later, we got married – I was barely sixteen – and knew absolutely nothing about what makes a good marriage. Wink had about $300 to his name and I had a job, leaving high school at 1 p.m. every day, until 6 p.m. as Secretary for the manager of a Men’s Clothing Store. And we had never talked about what we expected out of marriage. I only knew that I didn’t want to get pregnant, as I was on the road to graduating top in my class of 86. I had watched too many “marriages” of my classmates that didn’t last, the girls got pregnant and had to leave high school, and I didn’t want any part of that.
Today I tell our sons that if their dad hadn’t gone to church with me on our first date, none of them would be here! Today I strongly believe that if a couple differs in their religious beliefs and still get married, they greatly decrease their chance for happiness and solidarity. But if they agree to one church home, under the leadership of the husband, their marriage will be the best, as ours was.
Our faith in Christ was important to both of us and built and saved our marriage. Our best friends were always Christians. Many years later, Wink would tell me of a Christian speaker he had heard in downtown Los Angeles where he had his office or someone he had witnessed to. We bought a 2nd home at Forest Home, where we enjoyed going often to hear great speakers who spoke on many different topics, helping us to build up and have a better marriage. We learned that the husband is the head of the home, but he leads by serving – being the most loving and the most giving of the family. “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11) I can truly say that Wink was like this, obedient to a life of sacrifice.
And I wasn’t always willing at first to do what the Holy Spirit was leading Wink to want to do. I remember when he wanted us to move from our beautiful home (where I had said I would live forever) by the ocean in San Clemente. I was rebelling, saying I wouldn’t move. Wink was oh so quiet, just praying, and we had driven down to Oceanside where we were helping to get a new Evangelical Free Church started (now North Coast). After meeting with the group of 47 one evening, I finally said, “Okay – I will move”, and Wink gave me a huge hug and kiss.
To end this, I would say that to have a good marriage, you must like each other. You can’t have thoughts of “trying to change the other person”. You must not only love your spouse, but LIKE him or her. You must agree over financial matters. (I was a “saving” person – keeping track of every penny we spent (only the first year), and I still have that book!) And I guess I wasn’t easily offended, even though I was later called “tight-wad” by Wink’s business partner! I worked at various jobs until Jerry arrived – taking him on my bicycle basket to the Doctor in Long Beach for his check-ups. And thank goodness – for the Grace of God in our lives, I really no longer needed to work, but could stay home and be the mother I always wanted to be for our four wonderful boys.
Check out the first two posts in the series here: