81 Years Together in Marriage – Can’t Recall a Single Argument

Published February 26, 1987.  A few days ago the Associated Press carried an interesting article. Calvin and Mina Dunmire of West Kittanning, Pennsylvania have been married 81 years. After buying a marriage license for 50 cents, they were married in 1904. Because of their many years of matrimony, they were recently recognized and honored by the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, an organization promoting better marriages in America.

The Dunmires may be moving in on a world record. According to the 1987 "Guinness Book of World Records," a couple in India were married in 1853. It lasted for 86 years. But you should also know that the Indian couple were married as children, when they were both 5. So be careful when your 5-year-old comes home and announces he or she is in love!

An interesting part of the Associated Press interview with Mr. and Mrs. Dunmire, ages 105 and 100 respectively, is “To the best of Mr. Dunmire’s recollection, he and his wife have never had an argument.”

Maybe the key phrase is that Dunmire can’t remember having an argument. I wonder about Mina. Is it possible she might recall having a word or two?

Whatever the situation or circumstances of the Dunmires' past, it is possible that Mr. Dunmire, the interviewer, and all the media who noted their 81st wedding anniversary on April 24th have unintentionally suggested something misleading. Are successful marriages in America—ones that last a long time—those which are free from any conflict, confrontations, or disagreements? Such an insinuation would not be the intent of Worldwide Marriage Encounter organization.

Dr. Joshua Golden, a psychiatrist from Santa Monica, California, recently wrote of the supposed conflict-free marriage and called it “The Deadly Marriage Myth.” He wrote:

“We have been led to believe, by all myths that we are raised with, that if only we find the right person, we are going to live happily ever after. We have no understanding that the infatuation, the initial passion, is over within a matter of months. Many of us see this as if something is wrong. We become disappointed and feel fearful, because we have no understanding of the natural process.

“When trouble arises, when we find out that it is not all ‘happily-ever-after’ and that we have many more problems now than we ever dreamed of, we have the feeling that we have made a mistake. We start to think, I have chosen the wrong person. I have married a lemon instead of a peach.”

Golden continues, “I think the ‘happily-ever-after’ myth is a dreadful misrepresentation of the facts, and it causes a lot of misery. People are disappointed when they needn’t be. If they had a more realistic concept of the problems that do arise, they would do better. They think a successful marriage is a marriage where you don’t have problems. A successful marriage is one in which you learn to solve the problems which you inevitably have.”

The California psychiatrist concludes, “Problems are inevitable because you are trying to bring two very different individuals, and sometimes many more, into some kind of intimacy, which means different values and all kinds of compromises. The test of success is not being without problems but rather how well you can solve the problems and reconcile the differences.”

Perhaps more important than trying at all costs to avoid confrontations, or even arguments when they arise, is learning how to deal with differences once they occur.

Jesus, who obviously understood human relationships, made the simple observation hundreds of years ago: “It is impossible but that offenses will come” (Luke 17:1).

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