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What I’ve Learned After 29 Years of Marriage
by Kathy Butler
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November 9, 2020

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What I’ve Learned After 29 Years of Marriage

Kathy Butler and her husband (Courtesy of Kathy Butler)
Kathy Butler and her husband (Courtesy of Kathy Butler)

Today, we celebrate 29 years of marriage. What an awesome accomplishment, since we are constantly bombarded with statistics that tell us 50% of marriages end in divorce. And, while the other 50% “stay together,” we don’t know how many are living blissfully, simply co-existing, or singing Will and Jada’s mantra – we ride together, we die together, bad marriage for life. So, after 29 years of experiencing the inevitable ups and downs of marriage, here is what I know….

Marriage is love. Marriage is sappy Valentine’s Day cards. Marriage is great sex. Marriage is romantic vacations. Marriage is excitedly buying your first home and joyfully welcoming the birth of your children. 

But, marriage is also a serious commitment; an almost daily decision sometimes. Marriage is work. Marriage is giving more than you want at times, and it’s definitely not 50/50. Marriage is restraint when you want to say something that will cut to the white meat and can only be healed with the mercurochrome of God’s tender mercy and grace. Did I say marriage is work?

Marriage is love… but marriage is also serious commitment. 

Credit: @anjola_o/@twmwa.love

And let’s keep it all the way real –– regardless of whether you had the wedding of your dreams or a simple ceremony based on what your budget allowed, one thing is for sure, the cost of the wedding and the success of the marriage have absolutely nothing to do with one another. You will find that the strength of a marriage is rooted in one’s ability to see their partner as a reflection of themselves and a reflection of God’s heart and great love towards us. Without an understanding of these concepts, walking away in the rough times seems like the easy answer, and let me tell you, after 29 years, the rough times will come!

After 29 years, “for better or worse” will be tested time and time again. In better times, you will feel unexplainable joy. The proverbial “floating on cloud nine” kind of happiness. But the worse––it’s a beast! I didn’t know that the worse would be arguments that might last a few days –– yes days –– and result in good friends telling you that they would hunt you down and bring you back if you thought you were leaving, because they believed in your union in a moment you weren’t so sure. I didn’t know that on more than one occasion worse would be having your feelings totally overlooked and having a new car parked out front, and you had no choice in the decision. I didn’t know that worse would be a financial hardship that, at the time, seemed to strangle the life out us. And, I certainly didn’t expect worse to be fighting for justice for our child and figuring out how not to shred one another to pieces in the process.

We have made the mistake of comparing our relationship to another couple’s only to discover they were miserable.

In all of that though, I have also learned that there is no shame in counseling from trusted sources when necessary. There is no harm in saying, I don’t like you right now and I need some space to process, and then we can talk. And sometimes, just sometimes, you may have to say it like you mean it, and, prayerfully, you won’t do irreparable damage to one another’s heart. And, if we are going to keep it all the way a buck, there may have been 2 or 3 nights we slept in separate beds. And yes, for those who are wondering, we absolutely know that the scriptures say don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, but it has gone down, risen, and gone down again for me a few times in 29 years, ok. I’m just keeping it all the way real so you aren’t disillusioned by all the pretty pictures.

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In 29 years, we have seen marriages take off and plummet. We have made the mistake of comparing our relationship to another couple’s, only to discover they were miserable. We have also seen some that are indeed “goals” in the sense of us recognizing elements of another couple’s relationship that we wouldn’t mind applying to ours. But, we definitely aren’t trying to emulate anyone else, because we understand, and appreciate, the uniqueness we bring to our marriage, so trying to emulate another couple would be a bonafide hot mess. I married Richard and he married Kathy. Don’t bring Jesse and Sally’s marriage over here, cause they do what works for them, and we need to focus on what works for us. Period.

After 29 years, I’m convinced it’s this daily decision that we call “marriage” that shows us the beauty of the love of the Father, and we reap the benefits through an earthly love, that, when knitted together by Him, is a thing of beauty, and only death can part us!

Couple holding hands
Courtesy image

In the words of Anthony Hamilton, the point of it all is God uses marriage to show us ourselves by juxtaposing us against someone else, and He shows us the level of patience and love He has for and exhibits towards us. Let’s face it, He made the ultimate sacrifice before we had even committed to Him because He loves us that much, so how fitting that He uses marriage as the perfect illustration of how stretching ourselves beyond what we perceive as our limits at times will produce a love and commitment that will carry us directly into His bosom when death does part us.

After 29 years, I’m convinced it’s this daily decision that we call “marriage” that shows us the beauty of the love of the Father, and we reap the benefits through an earthly love, that, when knitted together by Him, is a thing of beauty, and only death can part us!

Happy 29th anniversary to us!

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