Nearly 35 years into my marriage to Bill, our shared commitment to the Lord has given us a life together that has been formed by Scripture. But our story at this point is more about the existential ache found in the book of Ecclesiastes than the youthful passion in the Song of Solomon.

The Bible's instructions to husbands and wives about obeying, serving and submitting to one another do not come with an iron-clad guarantee of happiness, though I daresay a number of people leading Christian marriage seminars don’t focus on that part. They seem to imply that there is a formula that will unlock a state of perpetual wedded bliss.

I thank God Bill and I weren’t exposed to any of those formulas before we married on October 7, 1979. They probably would have been the undoing of us.

The way we spent the day before our wedding turned out to be eerily prophetic. Bill landed in the ER due to what turned out to be a benign tumor in his abdomen. We went on with the wedding but canceled our honeymoon so the doctors could run tests. I remember fiddling with my wedding ring and wondering what I should do with it if I became a widow at the ripe old age of 20. Come to think of it, Ecclesiastes was making a foreshadowing appearance even then.

Like any good couple in the ’70s, my husband Bill and I had written our own vows. When I read them today, they sound pretty lame. We realized years later that the traditional vows captured the reality of the marriage covenant far better than anything we could have concocted at that stage: to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

As time went ...

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