Another Anniversary, But Not Just Another…

by DanWolgemuth on April 5, 2024

It was 46 years ago, in Franklin, Michigan, that I caught my first wedding glimpse of Mary Christine Cargo. My bride. If I pause, I can still see that image, feel those feelings, and experience those emotions.

But a wedding is only the beginning. Cliché. Probably. But true.

What happens after “I do” is what calibrates the trajectory of a healthy, authentic, and vibrant relationship… Cliché. Probably.

So the question surfaces, at what point is a marriage at its peak? What should a married couple set their sights on as a target, an objective, a visionary goal? And furthermore, what are the years where marriages are most at risk?

A study by the Brown Family Law practice reveals the following about the risk of divorce:

• Years 1–2: Very Risky.
• Years 3–4: Mild Risk.
• Years 5–8: Very Risky.
• Years 9–15: Low Risk.
• Years 15 and over: Low to Mild Risk.

So, at year 46, I sigh a sigh of relief and move forward…


So the question really swirls around when does it become possible to put a marriage on autopilot? Put another way, when does this intensely personal relationship become routine? Habitual? Free from work? On cruise control?

The answer depends entirely on the level of satisfaction with the quality of the relationship. If the behavioral ruts are deep, and the satisfaction level is high, then at some point, the relationship moves from flourishing, to cherishing. And from cherishing to remembering. And from remembering to accommodating. And from accommodating to resignation. “This is the best it’s going to be.”

Certainly, not all bad. But it’s static. A grasp of reality, but backward facing.

Is that inevitable?

If flourishing is linked to physical and mental vibrancy, then backward momentum is inevitable. Memories are it.

But over the last year of marriage… year 46, I’ve come to realize in a fresh way, just how much I have yet to learn and know about the 21 year-old that I married. And yes, not just learn about, but learn from this woman.

In addition, I’ve come to realize that it’s easy for me, at nearly 69 years old, to whitewash over any dreams I might have about personal growth and development.

It’s like retirement… you save up for it most of your working life, and then you live off of what you saved.

Is there a relational equivalent? Should there be?

Should Hallmark produce an anniversary card for a couple married 46 years that says, I hope you liked what you had ten or fifteen or twenty years ago, because it’s been downhill from there. We’re coasting now baby!

After 46 years of marriage, my gift to Mary needs to be honest. It needs to be vulnerable. It needs to be tender. And it needs to be more!

So here you go… my Hallmark card.

Dear Mary,

Thanks for saying yes. Then and now. And thousands and thousands of times in between. At 68 years old, I promise I’m not through learning or growing. That consequently means that I’m not finished apologizing, or confessing, or making mistakes. And while I’m still prone to selfishness and stubbornness… I promise to do my best not to stay there, or to excuse that.

I promise to keep asking God to help me to know Him better and to love Him more, because that’s what allows me to love you more. And love you better.

Mary, I have a growing bald spot on the top of my head (perhaps you’ve noticed), and some forgetfulness, and some tighter fitting clothing… but the capacity of my heart to learn and love is still intact.

I promise more grace. More compassion. More tenderness. More adventure. More reflection… and yes, more flourishing. Even now.

Happy Anniversary.
Then and now. More now than then.
I love you.

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