LESSONS LEARNED IN 31 YEARS OF MARRIAGE

August 27, 2014

OK, so this is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination; but in light of the fact that I have been (blissfully) happily married to the former Lib Upchurch 31 years as of today, I thought a moment to enumerate a few lessons would be appropriate. For a brief second I thought about coming up with 31 lessons, but then figured it would tax my brain and bore people. So, in no particular order, here are the top five things that came to my mind today:

1. She polishes my rough edges. Let’s face reality; I had a great childhood and youth, a pretty good experience growing up and getting through college and grad school, even landed my first “grown up” job before we married. But good grief, Lib took this sow’s ear and has excelled in making a silk purse out of me. She has taught me the right fork to use, what tie to wear with what suit (and which one NOT to wear), not to leave the house wrinkled, and that at the end of the day, social etiquette really does matter. Social etiquette is simply a way of telling other people that they matter, that they are important. And for the record, No, she is not through polishing me. I still have (and continue to add!) plenty of rough edges!
2. I’m not worthy. I don’t think I was when I popped the question 31+ years ago (of course, then I thought I was!), and I don’t believe I am worthy of this amazing woman today. She is one of the hardest working, most devoted teachers (in the thankless world of public education) there is, and comes home to keep a house straight, make sure healthy dinners are planned, prepared, and served (and cleaned up!), and does it all with a smile on her face. Me, I’m a preacher; I only work one day a week, and that’s only in the morning! But Lib is unquestionably the consummate Southern Lady. Grace, charm, looks, a deep faith in Jesus, and a devotion to her husband and family that does not end.
3. We weren’t ready. We reflected on this some years ago, and I still believe it. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we got engaged, and when we got married. We did have a solid foundation, in that both of us had parents who were married to one another. My parents were married 58 years before they died, and hers celebrated their 59th anniversary this year. We were both 24 when we married, were young, naive, idealistic, broke, but very much in love with one another. And somehow, by the grace of God, we made it work.
4. Marriage is an adventure. In 31 years we have lived in 4 cities in three different states. In another week, we will have lived in the home we live in now longer than any other home we have owned. We’ve made mistakes (the Pontiac Sunbird comes to mind), had amazingly few fights, disagreed on few things, most of which were simple, silly, and petty, have had seasons when we had to live on hot dogs and generic chips, but have raised two incredible daughters, pursued three advanced degrees between the two of us (four if we add Anne’s Master’s in there!), loved three faithful dogs for 14+ years each, taught each other more that I at least will talk about here, and started and ended every day with the assurance of our love for each other—even when we were mad at each other for whatever silly reason.
5. Marriage is the hardest—and best—job I’ll ever have. When you make the move from living by yourself—and sleeping by yourself—to sharing space with another person, there are adjustments to be made. Holidays, those most sacred and sacrosanct of institutions in family life, are celebrated differently. When you get irritated with the other person, if you are committed to them and the institution of marriage, you can’t run away. Maybe never living in the same town as any family was a good thing; it forced us to look each other in the eye, face our differences, and work them out. Making the move from “yours” and “mine” to “ours” is not a simple thing—there are no neat, easy, simple steps, and the path is fraught with landmines. Fortunately for us, none of them blew up on us, and we have found that when we had hard things to deal with, it just made celebrating the accomplishments that much better.

The joy of going home at the end of the day to someone who loves me, wants the best for me, believes in me, and will accept nothing but the best for me, has made the last 31 years absolutely the best years of my life.
I’m a VERY lucky man.

Lib & Chuck on the Springer Mtn summit

Lib & Chuck on the Springer Mtn summit

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One Response to “LESSONS LEARNED IN 31 YEARS OF MARRIAGE”

  1. John Day Says:

    Chuck you always raise the bar for the rest of us with your blogs

    Lib is a gem as demonstrated by the frozen firewood incident

    You also raise a good point that we should all reflect on why and how our marriages survive against all odds. Who can make a life decision in their twenties?

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