That's us on our first furlough in 1998. Byron was 33 and I was 32. No gray hairs, no flab, two cute little MK's. We'd been married for about 10 years and on the mission field for 4. We stayed in Winston-Salem that year at one of the mission houses of Pleasant View Baptist Church. We stayed for a whole year. Byron worked some for a friend with a automotive repair shop that year and I stayed at home with William who was almost 4 and baby Dalton who turned two while we were there. We traveled together to visit all of our churches that year and made several big trips to Georgia and Maryland to visit with family.
Our first term of service on the mission field had been rough. Language school, learning the ropes, figuring out how to deal with colleagues, two new babies, low finances. Somehow we had made it through together. We were okay and things were alright. Now we were first term survivors on our way back.
Each term of service on the field has brought on new and different challenges and stresses for us and hence for our marriage. Missionary service is almost like starting a small business venture with your spouse. We see each other every day for many more hours than most couples see each other every week. We work together and make decisions together. If we disagree "on the job," we have to deal with it "at home." Add to all that the stresses of living overseas, opposition from Satan, and life in general.
Byron and I have no secret little formulas to keep the love light burning. We don't have weekly date nights - there's no where to go in our little town anyway! We've had our ups and downs over the years. But somehow we are still on the field and still together and still in love. If someone asked, How'd you do it? What would be my answer?
It seems to me to all go back to go old I Corinthians 13 - the love chapter.
Love is patient and kind. Be patient with your spouse. If they make that same stupid mistake again, be kind.
Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. I used to be jealous of Byron having all the fun running here and there and getting to do "what he wanted." Then I realized it was pure old jealousy and pride. And let's not forget that each member of a marriage does have a role. Playing that role well doesn't leave room for jealousy and pride.
Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. There goes the patience thing again. Couldn't we say, hold your tongue and wait. Anger will pass and then you can talk with kindness.
Love does not remember wrongs done against it. Real love doesn't dredge up the bad past over and over.
Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth. Are you happy when you hubby does something stupid so you can have a good reason to scream and hollar? No. And there's the truth thing. Telling the whole truth to your spouse is #1 even when it involves money!
Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. I'm so glad Byron and I never gave up on each other. Actually I should say that we frequently gave up on each other but we didn't quit. We stayed in the game and didn't lose hope or stop trusting even when things seemed dark and impossible.
Next week we celebrate 29 years of matrimony. I can honestly say that each year just gets better and better. No secret formulas. No special books. We made a commitment to stick it out through thick or thin and that's what we are doing.