Reflecting on 40 Years of Marriage

Reflecting on 40 Years of Marriage

By Steve Downs

On September 26, 2021, Terri and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage together.  While the years have gone by fast, we have experienced some very long days.

We are both very committed to pouring into the lives of others.  While reflecting on our 40 years together, we thought that sharing some of our journey might be an encouragement to  others.

From the beginning of our relationship, we have seen God’s providential hand in bringing us together.  Even how and when we met was a miracle of grace and perfect timing, but that is a story for another day.  For this blog, I want to highlight four of the keys to our 40 years of marriage together.

Terri and I have always considered our marriage as a Covenant Commitment to God and to one another.  This commitment has always been the foundation of our relationship and what has moved us forward through marriage.

Our marriage commitment is not a contract.  Contracts can be broken when circumstances and feelings change.  In addition, our marriage is not based solely on emotion and expression of love.  If this was the central basis of our marriage relationship, we would be in trouble because emotions and feelings change on a regular basis.

While we have gone through some significant transitional storms in our 40 years together, we have never considered giving up, walking away from one another, or pursuing another relationship.

Our commitment to the Covenant of Marriage before God far exceeds any personal struggle we have faced together.  We have learned that re-committing to this covenant must occur on a regular basis to always keep it fresh and vibrant.

We are best friends.  From the beginning of our dating relationship, we shared openly, honestly, vulnerably, and transparently about everything in our lives.  This has carried through and only grown over our 40 years of being together.

We refused to be two people who just lived in the same house together as roommates with little to no relationship with one another.  There have been moments when this could have easily occurred, but our commitment to the Marriage Covenant drove us to not settle for just an “okay” relationship.  We continually asked the Lord to bless us with the “best” marriage we could possibly have as we have committed our lives to Him.

At the beginning of our marriage, and to this day, we committed to put Jesus at the center of our individual lives and our corporate lives together as a couple.  We believe the closer each of us personally grows in our relationship with the Lord the closer we will be to one another.
Over the years our relationship has matured, and we have grown to live as life partners.  We have lived life together, not just in our marriage, but also in our parenting.  We have always prioritized our marriage and family time together.  While our parenting has evolved, we now have the fresh new challenge of grandparenting.  Because we have attended the same church since we first met, we have also had the privilege of partnering together in our ministry life over the years.  

Transitions are an inevitable part of life and a marriage.  No one and nothing stays the same.  As we reflect on our 40 years together, there have been many difficult and emotional transitions that we have had to traverse.  Here are a few of those transitions.
  • Learning how to live with another person when we were first married. 
  • Parenting our two children through all the joys and struggles of raising kids.
  • Navigating through the first years of our marriage when we didn’t have much money.  We learned how to communicate, sacrifice and work together as a unified couple.
  • Deciding to leave my successful career as a businessman and move into a full-time ministry role at the church 20 years ago.  Not only did we take a 2/3 pay cut in salary, but I had to step out in faith to start something new that I never thought I would ever do.
  • Losing Terri’s dad suddenly to a heart attack in the early years of our marriage.  Later in our marriage we lost both of my parents six months apart.  Those were hard emotional losses for us to navigate through as a couple.
  • Learning that Terri was diagnosed with cancer.  Walking through the experience of me having a heart attack at a very young age and then learning how to live with a limiting immune disease the rest of my life.  These were life changing events for both of us individually and corporately as a couple.  
  • Experiencing the victories, defeats, disappointments, setbacks, and heartaches of local church ministry and leadership for the past 20 plus years.
  • Making the very difficult and emotional decision for Terri to step down from a job she loved and was thriving in at the church.  That decision ended up being the right decision for our marriage and family, but it was very difficult at the time.
  • Learning how to care for Terri’s mom as she deals with health issues in the golden years of her life.

These are just a few of the significant transitions that we have weathered during our 40 years together as a married couple.  By God’s grace, we have handled these transitions well primarily because of our commitment to the Covenant of Marriage, our relationship with the Lord and one another and our on-going partnership in marriage, family, and ministry.

We belong together.  We know without a doubt that God willed us to be together.  We know this because in His master plan for our lives He knew that we would be better and more effective for Him as a couple than apart.

When we were first married, we asked the Lord to lay aside all our past mistakes, to grant us a fresh new start together and to pour out His grace and blessing upon our marriage as we committed our lives to Him and His glory.  Our marriage is an intimate relationship that only we share together.

Years together have not ensured our intimacy, but we are convinced that our life-long commitment to on another has grown and nurtured our intimacy through our 40 years of marriage.

As I write this blog, I can share with you that after 40 years of marriage, we are more in love with each other today than ever before.  Each trial – each setback – each disappointment – each struggle – each challenge we have experienced together during these past 40 years has never been greater than our love and forgiveness practiced toward each other.

These are four keys that the Lord has used to see us through our 40 years together as a married couple.  He has been faithful and true to all of His promises to us and I am sure He can also see you through.
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