What 39 Years of Marriage Taught Me About Love

I just got up and went into the bathroom, and Kathy made this weird noise. She sounded like a pirate. “Arrr,” she yelled in her sweet voice as she yawned.

“Happy Anniversary,” were her very next words.

“Happy Anniversary,” I said. We hugged and kissed.

We are now married for 39 years. We love each other more than the day we met and fell in love. Today, this anniversary day, has me thinking about our lives together.

Thirty-nine years is a long time to be with someone. As I sat down to begin my morning ritual with God, I asked, “What have I learned from 39 years of marriage?”

When Love Is a Noun

I still remember the moment I met Kathy. I met her for the first time in the doorway of her family home on a cold November evening in southwest Denver. As I describe it to you, I am right back there.

It was 1976. I was 22 years old, an entrepreneur working to make our software business into a great success. She was 21. We were both full of life, looking forward to a fantastic tomorrow. Bang. We fell in love right then and there.

Thirty-nine years ago love was a feeling. We couldn’t pass in the hall without kissing and embracing. We couldn’t stand to be apart. We were married six months later.

The Vicissitudes of Life

Together we raised four children, owned four homes, almost moved to Los Angeles twice and Dallas once. Work travel left us apart many nights.

We had illnesses, birthday parties, anniversaries, Christmases, Easters, ski trips, beach vacations, trips abroad, business successes, business failures, alcoholism, crying out to God, money made, money lost.

There were dumb decisions and good decisions. And there were the disagreements which ended in apologies.

Through it all we learned what love really is all about.

Then Love Becomes a Verb

Love isn’t a noun, as in “I am in love.” Love is a verb. “I love Kathy.”

Being loved, appreciated and valued leaves me with a foundation of tranquility and confidence. I approach the world differently because I am loved. Who would I be without Kathy’s love? I cannot imagine.

Kathy once told me, “I’ll never love you like your mother loves you.” And that turned out to be true. She actually loves me more than my mother ever loved me.

In 39 years of marriage, I learned what it is to love and be loved. I learned it by living under the same roof, committed to her as she is to me. I learned it day by day as we lived life and faced its challenges together.

Promises Made and Kept

The marriage vows we made on May 21, 1977 were kept. At 1 pm Father Walker turned to me and said, “Repeat this vow after me.

“I, Charlie, take you Kathy, to be my wedded wife. And I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be your loving and faithful husband in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.”

I didn’t know what I was committing to that day; after all, I was in love. I would have said anything. Thirty-nine years later, I know because I’ve lived it.

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5 thoughts on “What 39 Years of Marriage Taught Me About Love

  1. Charlie, I can relate to this. Been married for 54 years to a friend of 70 years.

    May need your help soon on a business issue. Best personal regards,

  2. I attended a beautiful wedding last weekend. The groom’s father made the sweetest speech during the reception. “Love is a verb” was his message to the young couple. Then today I read your post. Amen! Great meeting you recently at a Kennesaw State Center for Entrepreneurship event. I enjoy following your blog, Charlie.

    Karen Carlisle, KSU Coles College of Business

  3. Dear Charlie,
    I read this article from Beijing, China. It is a touching and beautiful article. I am really happy for you and Kathy for 39-year marriage.
    Regards,
    Mei