40-Year Marriage Insight

Bonnie and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary last month and our children gave a surprise wedding anniversary party last Sunday.  It was an amazing time with family and friends.

Our son, Ryan, and our daughter-in-law, Reka, asked me a rather significant question over the weekend that really impressed me.  They asked me for the secret for 40 years of marriage.  I first responded to the question by stating that family must come first over anything else.  I definitely know that God has worked on my heart in that area over the 40 years of being married to Bonnie.

After thinking about the question for a while, I gave them a more specific answer.  The success of our marriage, or any marriage, is selflessness.  Our natural tendency is to be selfish.  I believe that many people think that the purpose of marriage is to make us happy.  I really think that God’s purpose of marriage is to make us holy.

We live in a “happy” driven culture.  “Do what makes you happy” is the bottom line for many people.  Forget about responsibility.  Forget about commitment.  Forget about doing what is right.  Forget about honoring God.

Randy Gariss is a friend of mine.  Randy preaches at College Heights Christian Church in Joplin, Missouri.  I thoroughly enjoy his insight on marriage.  He states that we typically enter marriage with one of three definitions of love connected with the three Greek words for love:

1.  phileo: I love you because of who you are.  The problem with this foundation for marriage is that we change after entering marriage and we soon become someone other than the person our mate married.  These marriages last a few years and they are done.

2.  eros: I love you because of what you do for me.  The problem with this foundation for marriage is that life gets busy, we become occupied with careers, children come along, and we stop making our mate our number one priority.  When my mate stops doing everything for me, my love wanes.  These marriages last even less time than phileo marriages.

3.  agape: I love you and I always will.  This love says that I will love you regardless of what life brings along and I will model God’s love for me with you.  These marriages last a lifetime.

When I first heard of this truth, I realized that Bonnie and I had started out with an eros or phileo love.  Through God’s grace, He has led us into an agape love over the course of our marriage.  We are in this marriage for life.  An agape-based marriage is a God-based marriage.  His marriages work.  That requires selflessness.  I am still learning how to apply selflessness to our marriage.  It helps me when I am regularly reminded that I married up…way up.


  1. Shannon Clyne says:

    Thank you for sharing the revelation of a God-based marriage. My husband and I meet you during a spiritual warfare weekend @ LCC in Oceanside, CA. We were front-pew attenders and you called us out for that!!!! Since that meeting, we asked to become a part of the church and have found ways to serve our amazing God. The Elders (mostly Kelly Brown) had asked Alan to become grounds deacon, and the school director has asked me to lead a Sunday school group. For the first time, Alan will be going to Honduras with Kelly in October, and we are staying “prayed up” that God will use these individuals for the uplifting of His kindgom.
    The reason I share this with you is Satan is waging war on our family. Just as you mentioned in your warfare weekend, the more we come closer to working for God’s purpose the more Satan attacks from all angles including our children. I have asked Kelly to pray God’s will over this situation with me. I am reassured that we are children of God. I am declaring victory over satan for our family, marriage & children. Satan can put no more on us than God allows. We are under attack, but praise His Holy name, our Saviour sends the “Helper” and gives peace and assurance that whatever He brings us to, He will see us through.
    I have referred to the material from your website & warfare meeting since we meet nearly a year ago. It has been a blessing in times of strife and in times of calm waters.
    I ask of you today to please pray for God’s will for this family.
    God bless,
    Shannon Clyne

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