We had it all! Our dream careers, making good incomes, a beautiful custom built home in a great climate with a swimming pool, a beautiful healthy daughter, our health and we were a match made in heaven!
So we thought. After 13 years of marriage, working hard and supporting each to obtain our dream jobs, we divorced. Everyone was shocked. We were the “perfect couple” since we didn’t fight, we seemed to like the same things and we just were a fun couple to be around because we didn’t seem to have any issues.
But we did have issues. And these are the same issues we now see in most marriages that seem to be struggling.
We love sharing about our marriage, our failures, and our successes. We have a story to tell and we happily share it. We married young, ages 21 and 22. We had a great start, first of all, having so much in common. But most important, we shared the same faith and felt our Lord meant for us to be together. Sadly, after what appeared to be 13 years of bliss, we divorced. It was devasting. We had a six-year-old daughter to think about. It should never have happened. And thankfully, we had a miracle as we were able to reconcile and remarry. We never imagined our “end game.” We never knew how much we would love our grandchildren. In fact, we totally changed our lifestyle to be able to spend more time with them. We’ve now been happily married over 40 years and travel full time in our motorhome. To most people, we are living a dream life and to us, it is!
We were asked if we could share the secret to a long marriage and happy marriage. In fact, four years ago, we began a blog to share about our marriage and you can read about it here. We thought we shared most everything we could about our reconciliation and what “formula” we used to restore our marriage. (We do have the formula that worked for us to have the BEST marriage.)
After some thought and reflection, thinking back over our 40 years and observing so many other marriages, we’ve discovered the really simple solution to STARTING out right-and then maintain it for the long haul. And we do know it because we did start out right….So what happened?
Before I explain further, it’s important to explain we are Christians. And we believe as Christians, we are in a covenant marriage, an agreement with each other and with God. There were conditions to this covenant: To love, honor, cherish, forsake all others, to love in good time and bad times, we pledged to each other before God.
We really don’t know what people of other faiths do to ensure their marriages will succeed. We would love to hear from people of other faiths who have had a similar experience. Nor do we know how atheists or people without a faith based belief system do it. We would love to learn and hear these other thoughts and ideas as well. But for us, we’ve realized this simple truth, but yet, it does require dedication. And isn’t that true of anything? For example, your career, artistic talents (such as painters, dancers and musicians), your hobbies (such as blogging, exercising), or sports (whether you play on a team or are a golfer). It takes dedication to succeed in anything. Right?
Well, started with this belief, but we did not consciously focus on it. In fact, we didn’t really take it seriously. We broke our covenant marriage.
For us, it all boils down to this:
Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment by a Pharisee who was considered to be “an expert in the law” (Matthew22:34–36). Jesus answered by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37–40).
If you and your spouse believe in this and ACT on it, your marriage will be a success. You see, we started our marriage with this belief, then the things of the world took our focus away: our jobs, buying and selling houses (we moved around), financial concerns in spite of good jobs, unhappiness with our choices of where to live, we couldn’t agree on which church to attend and in 13 years, we divorced. To learn more, you can read how important forgiveness was for us to start over!
We enjoy some reality TV shows. One favorite is Survivor. If you are watching it, the theme, this season is called, “Second Chances.” The contestants were on previous seasons but were all losers. These losers are given a second chance this season to be the winner. So far, it seems the contestants have not learned from their past mistakes. We are so grateful we did and it is by our faith, we are the winners this season!
More on Debbie
Debbie and her husband are minimalists, who travel full time in their recreational vehicle. They have a travel blog (TheTumbleLees.me) and call themselves the Tumble Lees, a play on their name and tumbleweeds. They planned to travel where ever the wind blows them, but their grandsons have stolen their hearts and they now spend a month or two with them, travel two or three months, then back with them. Debbie has a second blog which focuses on her voice as she continues to live out her spiritual journey in public, which you can check out here.