‘My sister’s back in town, newly divorced. You should give her a call.’ I heard a knock. He looked up and smiled. I thought, ‘One day, I’ll marry this man.’ I didn’t tell him. Why ruin the moment?’

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“The last 5 decades have gone by in the blink of an eye. From the first day I saw the smiling face that made my heart race, I had no idea what the future would bring.

The year was 1966. I walked into 11th grade homeroom, the new girl in school, to see a guy with gorgeous hazel eyes. I decided to sit next to him. His name was Richard. Over the next 2 years, we had several classes together. I never dreamed that one day he would be my King, and I would be so blessed to be his Queen.

Courtesy of Debi Nevel Drecksler

Flash forward 10 years. Across a table filled with neighbors and childhood friends, my older brother told Richard, ‘My little sister is back in town, newly divorced. You should give her a call.’ He gave his nod of approval.

The very next day, I heard a knock. I opened my front door to find Richard standing in front of me. Before greeting me, he leaned down and handed my two-year-old son a red race car. Then he looked up and smiled. ‘You’ve grown up,’ he said with a hint of playfulness in his voice. We hugged and I thought to myself, ‘One day, I will marry this man.’ I didn’t tell him, of course. Why ruin the moment?

Courtesy of Debi Nevel Drecksler

We caught up on the last ten years of our lives. He told me all about his older brother who was tragically killed by a drunk driver. I saw the sadness on his face and reached for his hand. It felt strong; it felt right. He listened as I talked about my previous ‘forever after’ shattering like fragmented glass. He saw my pain and, for just a moment, our eyes locked. The silence was loud. It spoke volumes.

Courtesy of Debi Nevel Drecksler

Eight months later, we were married. My husband was told he was sterile because of a life-threatening childhood illness. A year later, we gave birth to a beautiful baby that we never imagined having.

Courtesy of Debi Nevel Drecksler
Courtesy of Debi Nevel Drecksler

And even more children followed.

Courtesy of Debi Nevel Drecksler

As with any married couple, we’ve had our fair share of struggles, heartache, and challenges. We’ve worked through everything by always staying by each other’s side and never going to bed angry. Keeping a sense of humor about life has helped us keep our sanity.

Courtesy of Debi Nevel Drecksler
Courtesy of Debi Nevel Drecksler

Recently, someone asked us, ‘What has kept the two of you married for 42 years?’ I could see by the look in my husband’s eyes what his answer would be. ‘I’ve tried everything but I can’t get rid of her!’ He’s been using that same line for decades and I always roll my eyes and laugh.

Another friend of mine told me that most of her married girlfriends complain about little annoyances. That they grow into big annoyances and eventually cause marital strife. I knew what my husband would say if he was there. ‘Who cares if he leaves his socks on the floor or puts them in the wrong laundry basket? If that leads to bigger problems than just don’t wear socks!’

All kidding aside, often in marriage, couples are too busy nitpicking that they miss out on the good things. Like your spouse stopping by the grocery store to buy milk and noticing your favorite cookies are on sale. Or filling your gas tank to save you time in the morning.

What married folks, especially young couples, should understand is that a long-term marriage CANNOT survive without humor. There’s a fine line between tears and laughter. I can’t even count all the times my husband has converted my sadness into happiness with a funny face or a comment intended to stop the tears. When you’re that attuned to the person you live with, you pick up signals. It can be a look in his or her eyes, their posture, or even their silence.

Courtesy of Debi Nevel Drecksler

What else is marriage?

Marriage is coming home late from work and finding that dinner is still the oven.

Marriage is throwing your arm across your wife when a car almost hits you.

Marriage is changing your husband’s bandage every day after surgery.

Marriage is running out to pick up ginger ale when she can’t lift her head off the pillow.

Marriage is wrapping yourself in his arms when he least expects it.

Marriage is giving her space when you see her sitting alone on the porch.

Marriage is watching your husband laugh so hard his face turns beet red.

Marriage is putting an umbrella over your wife while you get drenched.

Marriage is that feeling of joy every time he walks through the door.

Marriage is the way he looks at you after decades of life together.

Marriage is never forgetting the vows you made on that beautiful day.

To love each other unconditionally, forever.”

Courtesy of Debi Nevel Drecksler

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Debi Nevel Drecksler of Candler, North Carolina. You can follow her journey on her blog here. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our free email newsletter.

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‘After 22 years of marriage, I found myself headed to a divorce court. When I walked into Kmart, my life forever changed. ‘I would ask you out if you weren’t wearing that wedding ring,’ he said.’

‘Slightly panicked, I asked where she’d like to go for the first date. Anywhere in the city. ‘Steak-n-Shake. I want you to see me in all my glory,’ she replied. That’s when I truly started to fall in love.’

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