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Love and Marriage
A Few Frank Words 6-26-24

My family has lived in Oakdale for almost 30 years. In the first 15 years of our marriage, we moved 13 times! During the first 20 years I was “chasing a career” which I never quite seemed to catch. I would come home one day; tell Kathryn I received an offer of employment from “anywhere other than here” and the first thing she would say is “let’s get packed for our new adventure.” Across the street, across the state, or across the country, she was always up for one more adventure. We arrived in Oakdale in 1995 (I started working in 1994 but we did not buy a house and move the family until February of 1995). From then on, the talk of another move never crossed our lips. We both grew up in a relatively small town, much like Oakdale, and we love it. There is a lot to be said for reading the Oakdale Leader and knowing who is on the front page, and whose children are gracing the sports page and who is doing what in Knights Ferry and Valley Home. One of my favorite items is to read about those couples celebrating special anniversaries. Thirty, 40, 50, 60 even 75 years of marriage is a thing to be celebrated. It is a rare thing indeed that with God’s help two usually, strangers (though not always), can come together, create a family, and remain married forever. From the day Kathryn and I were married we have always kept Christ at the center of our marriage.

We wrote letters (not email and certainly not text messages) to each other while I was in Vietnam. The light, airy letters quickly became interesting discussions about our lives and how we were living them. We wrote of things we looked forward to later in our lives and what we hoped to accomplish. She was able to keep all my letters but, much to my dismay, I needed to destroy hers because of where I was. It was a little under one year later, August of 1970, Kathryn and I were married in the church before God, with Christ, and with both our families in attendance.

I want to share some things that have kept us in this lifelong commitment. Both our parents were in lifelong committed marriages, so we have great examples to look upon. That was an excellent start. We placed Christ in the center of our marriage and took vows that we both believe far surpass any kind of a promise one might make. For Christians, a vow is not just a vow, rather a covenant. A covenant between two people before Christ. A covenant is a sacred thing that in the biblical days could only be broken by death. It also meant that if you broke a covenant, you were inviting death. While the definition in our modern world may not be the same, the gravity of wedding vows has not changed. The weirdest wedding toast I ever heard by a best man was, “Let’s all toast the bride and groom as we wish that they stay together for ten years.” Talk about condemning a lifelong commitment before it even begins.

Another thing that solidified our marriage was our agreement that no matter the subject of an argument, no matter how angry we would get, no matter if we were alone or not, we never call each other names, we never shame each other, we never embarrass each other and we never curse at each other. This is the way in which we maintain an equal relationship, never putting the other one down or making fun of each other. We believe that by keeping the arguments both “relevant and civil” we can support each other even though it may not seem that way at the moment.

Yet still another practice is in the realm of finance. In a larger sense, we never make big decisions independently. Buying a house, a car, a major appliance is always a mutual decision. We sit down and talk it through to a logical conclusion. Sometimes it may take a day, a week, or a month but we do not make a decision until we have agreed.

The last issue is one of attending worship. Over 53 years we have always attended worship together. When our children were little, we went as a family. For us the adage that “the family that prays together, stays together” is not just a trite saying. It not only is true, but it also works. Now, so there is no misunderstanding, we have not attended worship literally every Sunday. We have attended on a regular basis, meaning very often. It is difficult to ask for someone’s help when that someone hardly knows you. In effect we stay “in touch” with God. Heaven knows that on more than one occasion we have each prayed to God to grant us a little more patience in our marriage. In part, our 53 years says God does answer prayers.

I have found being married can be a fragile, incredibly individualized state of being. As you read this column, I hope I conveyed that. These are the things that have worked for us. I cannot for certain say that these ideas would work for another married couple. I am certain being married means a lot of constant attention and care. And above everything else, placing Christ in the center of a marriage makes everything else easier.


Francis (Frank) Remkiewicz is an area resident and contributes a monthly column focused primarily on faith and religion. He can be reached at Opinions expressed are those of the author.