How to Have a Last Marriage (I’m Still Learning) – Rhonda Partain

I can’t even believe it.  How did going on a blind date end up with a wedding? I remember it all as though it was only yesterday. On January 26th, 1985 I married Ben in a church in Douglasville Georgia. I couldn’t see the flowers decorating the church; I couldn’t see the candle light nor my handsome groom but I knew one thing. I wanted to make my life with Ben; I was ready to promise forever for better, for worse, in sickness and health. I heard the words gathered here before God and I could feel my heart beating so fast.  I was so happy and ready to begin a new chapter in life.

I never took the time to think just how long till death do us part really is; I didn’t think of the worse that might come or any type of sickness. The bad times came with job loss, financial hardships, and then Ben was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease. End is such a final sounding word, end of a good movie, end of a wonderful day, but end, when it is describing a health condition, is the saddest of all I learned there was no cure for end-stage kidney disease, none except temporary dialysis and waiting for a kidney that would match. I believed I would match. Ben finally agreed I could investigate the transplant process.  I was tested and found to be a match. Now Ben has one of my kidneys and he is feeling better. How did we make it through the worse and the sickness? We did it one day at a time. I am not here to say that keeping lifelong promises is easy. It isn’t. Sometimes it’s just a choice. All within me would want to quit, this is just too hard, I didn’t realize what I had signed up for. But as I’ve often heard hard times don’t last but love does.

Being married is wonderful; I have someone to talk to, someone to share my dreams with, someone who can encourage me when I want to quit. Sometimes this wonderful person is annoying, impatient, and he doesn’t want to listen to me talk. Can you imagine that? But I still love him. He makes me laugh, we’ve raised two girls and are blessed with five wonderful grandchildren. He knows my heart and can finish my sentences. He knows what I am thinking even if I don’t say it verbally. How does a couple stay married for 32 years? I am still learning. It’s all about forgiving, living one day at a time, remembering the good, saying I love you, I’m sorry.

So many people give up; marriage gets hard, they leave. If their job is hard, they quit. Think long and hard before you leave your marriage; no one is perfect. If you think you’ll find a perfect spouse somewhere else, you won’t. Remember what caused you to love each other in the beginning, remember it takes two to argue. It really does. It can’t be all their fault. Life gets better I promise. Financial hardships don’t last, new jobs come along, and sickness can change into health. How do we stay married? We are still learning; maybe one day we’ll figure it all out. Until then, we’ll just do what we know to do. We’ll love, we’ll laugh, we’ll argue and then make up; we’ll hold on to the promises we made and one day at a time, step by step we will continue our life story.

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