Life Story - Chuck and Paula Webber
Life is all about choices, and the choices we make determine the type of life we will live. My husband and I will be celebrating our 48th wedding anniversary this year, and when we were asked to write about what makes a long-lasting marriage, “choice” was the only word that we can think of that covers it all. To begin with, we chose each other from among the rest of the people we knew as the other one with whom we wanted to spend our lives. We chose to be married, and we chose to have our two children. We soon found out that those were not the only choices we needed to make, however. Our life together would never have lasted long had we not made the most important choice of all.
That choice was to trust in God and to leave our problems in the hands of the only One who can solve them. The Bible tells us that He will work everything out for the good of those who love Him, even the bad things that befall us (Romans 8:28). All of it works together in His plan, and even the frustrations and failings we all suffer through, especially those of a married couple, can be eased by Him and overcome by His mercy and grace.
In His grace we have been able to find peace and comfort as He shows us ways to demonstrate our love to the other. Humor is one of God’s best defensive weapons against the attacks that come into a marriage. Instead of taking everything so seriously, we realize that most of what happens is only a temporary state of being, and we choose to find the humor in the situation/ comment/ offense that the enemy is trying to use against us. Laughter is a wonderful healer in any of those situations.
Words have power, more so than most people realize. Instead of hurtful, angry, or negative comments, we choose to use positive, loving words to encourage each other. Again, it’s a matter of choice as to which to employ. We do not forget to remind each other verbally of our love for the other. Everyone needs to hear that he or she is loved unconditionally, accepted and valued as a life partner.
Words can mean nothing without action behind them to back them up, and so we choose to put the other person first… the needs, the wants, the activities that are important to him/ her. We often drop what we are doing to help the other one achieve whatever he or she is working on. Our goals are ones we hold in common, and we live out our beliefs as to what is best for our family, working side by side. Not always is that work without heated discussion of how it is to be done (we each think we know the best way to do a job), but we listen to what the other person has to say about it and hear all sides before coming to a final decision. We’ve learned to yield to the other’s ideas when they appear to be the better solution.
Putting the other person first is loving that other person as one would love him/ herself, doing what we would want done for us. Putting the other first is spending time together and truly listening to hopes, dreams, and plans when there is already not enough time to accomplish what we had planned. All of this is what Jesus would do. His was a sacrificial love, and ours must be, also.
We choose to nurture our love by trying to make life easier for the other, whether that’s doing a chore that the other would normally do, or handling a problem so the other doesn’t have to worry about it. We understand that we are not perfect and will make mistakes along the way. Knowing that ahead of time, we choose to forgive each other for any way we might do this “wrong.” Forgiveness is an essential part of living together in this world, and if we are to walk in the Lord’s will, we must forgive. Otherwise, we ourselves will not be forgiven of God (Matthew 6:12), and we all have instances for which we need forgiveness.
Praying for each other’s needs and safety and for God’s blessings upon our marriage is also a choice. We ask God to take the love we have, in all its imperfections, to filter it through Himself and purify that love, and then to multiply it a thousand times and give it to the other, over and over again, ad infinitum. I can see the difference that prayer has made since we first began to trust in Him and in His power to make ours a long-lasting marriage.
Finally, to make a commitment means to persevere, no matter the circumstances, hardships, or trials. We made a commitment to love, honor, and cherish each other 48 years ago, and that commitment is one we have chosen to keep, leaning on the Lord for His mercy when we do it wrong and for His grace to help us do it right. God promised that if we ask Him for anything according to His will, He hears us and will give us whatever we ask (I John 5:14-15). His will is for marriages to be the kind of relationship He has shown us in His Word, the kind of relationship Jesus has with His bride, the church, and we believe that He has answered our prayers and blessed us with His love.
It all starts with choice. He first loved and chose us (1 John 4:19), and we, in turn, chose Him as we accepted the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ, for the sins we have committed. We choose each day for Jesus to be Lord and Savior in our lives, first and foremost, and we choose His love to flow through us to each other. It’s a choice we all must face, and like Joshua, we choose to serve the Lord. It’s a choice that saved us and our marriage, and it can do the same for any marriage. God still offers to each person/ couple to “choose this day whom you will serve.” The choice is yours.