Two days ago, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
NO. SMALL. FEAT.
To put things in context, my mum wasn’t even born 70 years ago. So of course, I was a far cry from even being a consideration.
As I try to think about how long these 70 years must feel spending it with one person always in your face, I scratch my head and take another look at the man lying beside me . . . we’ve only done 5 years. Oh well, 65 more to go before I fully understand how Eliza and Philo must be feeling at the moment. By now she must have grown to accept how he gets the toothpaste out of the tube, and her night sounds must be music to his ears at this point. Surely they must be completing each other’s sentences and falling sick at the same time. Isn’t that what time does to people? They start to sync and get so used to each other that one becomes like the shadow of the other.
Sorry to mention it again. I still haven’t gotten over how long that is. I watched a documentary about their marriage but to be honest, they weren’t the ones that amused me the most. It was the three other couples who were featured in it. They also have been married for 70 years, and watching each couple make commentaries about how it has been, I laughed, and awwed and laughed some more. They were so real. Nothing to hide. No pretence. After all, what’s there to lose after 70 years? I particularly liked the part when one of the men tried to summarise his married life by suggesting that they had had good times and bad times, and lots of times when they disagreed. Then his wife interrupted him with a funny look on her face and said that any marriage that has no disagreements must be a boring one. Makes me wonder why these days most people do all to act like it’s all rosy, like we don’t know . . .
Anyway, back to my discuss.
I wonder what it must take to keep a marriage alive for 70 years. And when I listen to stories about the challenges the Queen and her husband have faced in their marriage, it must be totally impossible to stay married that long just for the fun of it, or for keeping up appearances. It’s easy for anyone to assume that they have survived to save themselves from bad press especially because they’re always in the spotlight. Then I think about the 3 of their 4 children whose marriages didn’t quite survive the spotlight. So there must be something worth all the work beyond saving face or just being a great role model.
Okay, forgive my cliché, but that’s the truth. I know that this world has turned the ‘L’ word into some vapid expression, but if anyone would take their time to study the true meaning of love, they’ll realise that it’s not that mushy feeling you have when all your butterflies are set lose in your stomach the moment you see that hot guy . . . or girl, as the case may be.
But . . .
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
I remember when I accompanied my favourite aunty to a bible study she was teaching at the medical college fellowship in Lagos. As she began to round up her session, she asked everyone to open their bibles to 1 Corinthians 13 and asked us to read from verse 4 to verse 7, swapping out the word ‘love’ with each of our names. So for me, it would have sounded something like this: “Tosin is patient and kind. Tosin is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.” I remember laughing at the ‘proud’ portion realising how such a lie it was for me to make such claims. I remember how when she asked for volunteers who would read it aloud, others who knew those who read would laugh so hard when they read a portion that didn’t quite fit the personality of the one reading. It sounded funny then, but that was a defining moment in my life. That was when I really got a grip of what it was supposed to mean when I said I loved.
You can give it a go (insert your name in the blank spaces and read it out loud): ______ is patient and kind. ______ is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. ______ does not demand my own way. ______ is not irritable, and ______ keeps no record of being wronged. ______ does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. ______ never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
How did that go? 🙈🙈🙈
On a serious note . . .
My heart bleeds every time I hear another case of divorce, especially among those whose hearts have been touched by the very source of love itself, God. I do not claim to have all the answers or even an understanding of why anyone would give up on the covenant they made. And listening to different stories surrounding the issues that bring about divorce, I’m sometimes drawn to pity, sometimes to rage and other times to just plain sadness. The reasons are endless: Infidelity, domestic violence, familiarity, childlessness and what have you.
It’s safe to assume that marriages are certainly under attack.
I have also come to realise that in these days of fast-track everything, marriages and relationships at large have become as shallow as Facebook Friendships. A few scuffles here and there and a spouse is unfriended with a click of a button.
In some marriages, death has actually become the parting blow as domestic abuse is on the rise. From verbal abuse to physical abuse, many have used their hands and their lips to dent and destroy what they built over the years. And I agree, there is only as much a victim can take.
Our world has become so friendly with the idea of infidelity. It’s portrayed in movies and accepted within some circles. I have heard it said that men were never created to be monogamous. And of course, we’re in the times when what men can do, women can do better. I leave you to draw your own conclusion.
I hear things like “we have fallen out of love” and I crack my head every time to understand what that even means. No thanks to our new found ‘reality show’ lifestyle that paints it as okay to change spouses like you’re standing at a buffet.
Assuming that Love is the foundation of marriages, shouldn’t they stand the tests of time? If what we now know about Love is true, that love is patient, kind, considerate, compassionate, truthful, selfless and unflinching, why then are marriages failing? The answer is this: We have not been taught the true meaning of love. We have been sold a superficial idea that is easily uprooted at the slightest burst of wind and crumbles in the sight of the smallest of storms. Like when money and beauty are the reasons one gets married. Those things are as fleeting as footprints in the sand by the sea.
So what do we do?
We need to accept that LOVE is really an ACT of the WILL. And Love is all 1 Corinthians 13 said it is. If we really claim to love, we submit ourselves to all the attributes of love. We become it’s slave. Everything we do must be born out of Love and nothing less. If I truly love, I will not cheat, nor lie nor hurt the one I claim to love, at least not intentionally. When I come across a difficult situation, I must exercise my heart by reminding myself what Love really means and ask myself if I’m willing to pay the price in spite of what I might be feeling at the moment.
And the price of love is LOVE.
I’m not privy to all the details of the married-life of the Queen and the Prince, but after 70 years, it mustn’t be so out of place to assume that LOVE is the key. Only LOVE can survive the years. 70 years a slave to LOVE they have been.
. . . sign me up!