Editors Note: This article is written by BCC Founders and Counselors, Dr. Ron and Sherry Allchin as part of our series on Relational Health. In this series, our counselors are sharing biblical principles to strengthen and improve all kinds of relationships.
“How do you keep your love for one another alive and beautiful for fifty years?” Because we just celebrated our 50th Anniversary this past May, we are asked this question often! We have never regretted our decision to marry, have never been separated, and I can’t think of even one time in 50 years that one of us threw the “D” word at the other!
Our wedding verse was Psalm 34:3, “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together,” and together has been a theme of our marriage from that time forward. We have lived life together in the fullest sense!
What we read and learned in premarital counseling sessions gave us a good foundation in so many areas of life. We both came from homes with alcoholic fathers and we both lacked the basic skills needed for a solid marriage. What we learned was that God’s Word had the answers, even if we didn’t! We learned about the God-given roles of husband and wife and God’s purpose and design in marriage. Neither of us felt prepared for marriage before we looked deep into God’s Word, but what we learned there was that we could learn to be and do all that God intended for us as a married couple. We have studied marriage and grown in our roles ever since!
How a couple learns to communicate before marriage has so much to do with how we will communicate with one another 50 years later and all in between! Yes, life has its ups and downs, but problem-solving skills determine if the downs take a couple to the divorce court, or to their knees. We chose the knees! We prayed together and we stayed together. We worked to become better and stronger with each bump in the road, and we acknowledged our marriage as a threefold cord that could not be broken, with the Lord as our strength.
We learned that good communication is an art to be continually practiced – it doesn’t come easy, but is essential to the sanctifying process in a good marriage. As we studied the book of Ephesians in our third year of marriage, we realized how our communication did not truly honor God or one another. That was a rude awakening for a young ministry couple! It was humbling and brought us to our knees. Eph 4:2 showed us that the atmosphere in our home must be one of humility, meekness, patience, and love if there is to be unity. Then we learned the communications rules and tools that we teach other couples today! We still strive to have unity in every sphere of our lives, but understand that unity is only possible in an atmosphere of humility, gentleness, patience, and loving forbearance.
Humility does not come naturally! We have both had to fight pride for 50 years! Sometimes we have to ask forgiveness. Sometimes we aren’t as gentle or as patient as we should be. Early on we recognized the truths of Dave Harvey’s book, When Sinners Say ‘I Do’, and that was humbling to our relationship. When two get married, there are two imperfect partners in the relationship that have to learn and grow together in Christlikeness. We are so thankful that we both wanted to grow together in our walk with the Lord, and we are still growing! We both desire to hear one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” We understand that our marriage is the first and most important horizontal relationship, after our vertical relationship with the Lord.
Loving one another seems like the easy part, and it is some days! That “loving forbearance” part is the issue – patient with one another through thick and thin, in every circumstance. Now that certainly didn’t and doesn’t come naturally! We have to choose to love one another because of our commitment to love as Christ loves, ‘til death do we part! And then, I do believe we will still love one another for all eternity, perfectly, though not as a married couple! We are to be affectionate to one another here on earth, showing love in every possible way. We still hold hands when we walk. We are committed to one another physically, and to only one another. We have never questioned our fidelity to the other. God has blessed us in so many wonderful ways!
We entered marriage both having a desire for ministry together. Psalm 34:3 said it well for us! But we have always seen ministry as all that we do, all the time. Keeping a clean and welcoming home has a ministry purpose for me and opens the door to hospitality. Visiting the homes of teens had a ministry purpose for Ron during his youth ministry days and ultimately led him to get a doctorate in biblical counseling to help families. Taking in foster kids had a ministry purpose, but so did playing with our own kids and teaching them the truths of God’s Word. We have always seen our life purpose as serving the Lord by loving and serving others. As we loved and served one another, we taught our children to love and serve God and others.
Socially, we both love to have fun together and with others. We have both always loved to include others in our plans and fun because bringing others joy gives us great joy. We love and value our family and friends and strive to be a help and encouragement to them. Socially we love to do things together with just the two of us as well, like taking long walks or riding our bikes through the neighborhood or down a trail or now driving our RV across the country. We are content as empty nesters because we love being together, with or without others!
We talk about everything and make decisions together from buying groceries to selling our house and buying an RV to travel to our ministry churches together. We both enjoy studying together and love to talk about what we are learning. We challenge one another to keep learning and growing. We both also love to mentor others and often do our counseling together as a couple for other couples. We are committed to being lifelong learners and desire to keep our minds sharp to be more effective in God’s work all the days of our life.
We recognized early in our marriage that all our money belonged to God, and that our responsibility was the stewardship of whatever the Lord provided. We are on the same page with financial principles, knowing how to balance the bottom line by spending less than we earn, and by giving generously to the Lord’s work. Proverbs taught us to plan so that we would have adequate provisions for ourselves and to share with others. We thank the Lord for His mercies and bountiful provision to us.
Parenting together was a very important common denominator. Very early in our parenting, we realized we had both been raised by imperfect parents and that we ourselves were also imperfect parents! In fact, only God the Father is a perfect parent, so we decided that our parenting must model HIS! If we were to be on the same page in our parenting, we had to be on God’s page! The book of Proverbs and Hebrew 12 offered us great hope that parenting could be done according to God’s model. We are proud of our adult kids and of the way they are parenting our grandkids!
These aligned values eliminated for us some of the issues that often cause couples to fight or even divorce. The verse we chose to characterize our marriage helped us to go vertical when things were hard rather than focus on the “hard.” We have grown in our love for God and for one another over the years, and we wish we could have another 50 years together!
When we finally get old, someday, I hope we will still be sitting in matching rockers next to each other, encouraging one another spiritually, enjoying one another socially, challenging one another to keep our minds sharp through reading, games, and discussions, smiling at one another with that “I still love you” look, and occasionally squeezing each other’s hand and giving each other a good night kiss! These commitments have kept our marriage alive and happy for 50 years, and for many more, we pray!
Just read your post. You two are wonderful biblical examples for those of us who are in a similar situation to follow. Julie and I are married 57 years now. We’ve still got things to learn, believe it or not, so we appreciated reading your story. We were a bit surprised to learn you’ve been driving around the country in an RV, but in this covid age, that’s probably one of the safest ways to travel. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you.
Of course growing over the years together in Christ in a marriage is very important . I truly believe that is the only way a marriage will work , Christ being the heart of it .