.- Couples who pray together stay together â at least according to some whoâve been married half a century. âFaith is a good foundation for a marriage,â said Carol Marlin, a member of Church of All Saints in Keokuk whoâs been married to Francis Marlin for 50 years.
âWeâve always kept God in our marriage,â Francis Marlin said. âHe has to be the main part of it.â
The parishioners were among about 20 couples who attended a Mass Oct. 10 at St. Mary Church in Fairfield for spouses celebrating their 50th anniversaries. The Davenport Diocese sponsors the Mass annually.
âIâm sure your very lives have preached a strong message over the years,â Bishop Martin Amos told couples in his homily. He joked that as a âprofessional bachelor,â he would nonetheless speak to them about marriage.
He offered three pieces of wisdom, the first of which was, âLife is what happens to you while youâre making other plans.â He asked couples to think about their visions 50 years ago for their families. Perhaps those plans included a nice house, âtwo beautiful, highly intelligent, well behaved childrenâ and a certain job. âNo doubt you got something quite different.â
Some people leave marriage because it didnât measure up to their expectations, Bishop Amos noted. But mature people accept each other and adjust their dreams to reality. âWithout knowing the future, you took each other for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. It is a tribute to you and your love that you have remained faithful to those promises these many years.â
For the second bit of wisdom, the bishop noted that âEven a stopped clock is right twice a day.â
âFifty years ago, you probably saw each other as Mr. and Mrs. Perfect. But it didnât take long to learn that he or she was not perfect.â In response to that realization, spouses might try to change their partners, he observed. But mature husbands and wives recognize each othersâ flaws â and love their spouses anyway.
Finally, Bishop Amos said, âLove truly is patient; love is kind, not jealous or rude or self-seeking. It is not prone to anger or to brooding over injuries. And for that to happen there needs to be, as St. Paul said to the Colossians, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, forgiveness and above all, love. That kind of love never fails.â
ââ¦May God continue to bless each of you, your marriage, your families and your futures.â
After the Mass, in reflecting on the secrets to a long marriage, Carol Marlin echoed one piece of wisdom the bishop shared. âNot everyoneâs perfect. You learn to adjust to them.â
She and other Catholics agreed commitment is vital. âIt takes a lot of work â you canât just bail out,â said Anne Erlandsen, a Church of All Saints parishioner who attended the Mass with husband Leon.
âYou have to be positive that itâs going to work,â said Marlene Bentler. She and her husband, Ray, belong to St. John Parish in Houghton. Faith and prayers help, she said. And âWeâve both been fortunate weâve had good health.â
Couples cited benefits of their commitment â especially family and grandchildren, Marlene Bentler and Francis Marlin each said. âWeâre still playing cards together after 50 years,â she added of herself and Ray.
âIt was rare to see 50th anniversaries years ago,â said Adrian Box, who belongs to St. John Parish with his wife, Carol. âWeâre pretty lucky to make it to 50 years.â
Printed with permission from the Catholic Messenger, newspaper for the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa.