Reflections and advices from a happy wife.
After the stress of wedding planning, with its attendant hurry and inevitable glitches, you finally enjoy that beautiful church service with all your loving family and friends in attendance. The endless picture taking and the happy and gastronomically-satisfying reception are finally over, and you ride off with the large “Just Married” sign attached and all the noisy tins ratting behind your car. The long-awaited delights of the honeymoon are glorious and euphoric. After those relaxing and unforgettable two weeks in a beautiful setting, you reluctantly pack your bags and head home to the work-a-day world. You wish the time did not fly by so rapidly, and you long to spend just a few more days, but duty calls and you have to set up house and begin a new dimension of your life – marriage and work.
On January 1, 1956, yes 57 years ago, Silas and I were united in holy matrimony. He was 29 and I was almost 20. After four years of courtship on the college campus, the lovely wedding, exciting honeymoon and a week or so of orientation in Nassau, we found ourselves assigned to work in one of the most delightful and tranquil islands of the Bahamas – Andros. In the area where we lived, Kemp’s Bay, the coconut-tree-fringed, white beach stretched for miles and miles and miles. Silas was the pastor for six small churches and I was the principal of the small elementary school. The setting was idyllic and the people were very friendly!
From the moment we were alone after the wedding, the first thing we did was to pray for God’s continued blessings on our lives and for Him to give us a double portion, as we were establishing a new home together. We had our regular morning and evening devotions, for prayer was then and has always been the basis of our lives together. We firmly believe that, “with Christ in the vessel you can smile at the storm!” Before taking up our new work assignments, we asked for God’s help every step of the way, for it takes three – husband, wife and Jesus - to make a happy and successful marriage.
Life was not a bed of roses, for there were adjustments to be made. For example, I had no teacher training experience, yet here I was in charge of a school with over fifty students. Sure, I had passed eight subjects in one sitting in the Senior Cambridge Examination, but that was not enough, so I had to learn on the job. I contacted former teachers and friends who had been teaching for some time and got as many pointers as I could. I bought relevant books to get as much help as I could. In that way with the Lord’s help, I was able to do a creditable job there for almost three years before being transferred. Silas had to do a lot of walking, even though we had a small motorbike, which we were able to use on the footpath, called The Dixie, and on the firm sand of the beach close to the edge of the sea. There were some routes, like on the way to Pleasant Bay Church from Kemp’s Bay, where he could not use the motorbike for most of the journey. Seven hills and many miles had to be covered by “foot-mobile” in order to get to Church on time. We were committed to the Lord’s work and to one another.
Then, there was the clothes washing experience, with the tin tub outside and that dreadful scrubbing board, which made both my wrists bleed after washing the sheets, towels, etc. for the week. I really tried, but it was difficult. So, we prayed about it, and worked out a solution. We pinched our pennies in another area and paid someone to help with the washing. Sometimes compromise is needed for life to go smoothly.
In those by-gone years, things were not as modernized as they now are. There were no roads in Kemp’s Bay, no electricity, no running water, no doctor, no nurse, no computers, no televisions, no telephones, etc., etc. Accommodations left a lot to be desired. In one house the leak in the thatched roof was so bad I could not cook when it was raining. We had to cover down the stove with heavy plastic sheeting, when it was not in use, to protect it from the elements. In all of this, somehow, I did not feel deprived or disadvantaged, for Silas and I were together, and we knew the Lord would see us through. It takes three for contentment and happiness!
There were many advantages and plusses. The simple, quiet life with the kerosene lamps made “early to bed and early to rise” a pleasure! The children in the school were eager to learn and did well in their studies. The amiable people made us feel at home. Quite often we would get gifts of plums, or sapodillas, or coconuts from friends and neighbours around. We made many genuine friendships while we lived in Kemp’s Bay. To this day we get calls and occasional visits from the life-long friends we made while we were there.
Preplanning is vital to success in any venture, and we did a lot of planning before our wedding. In order for any marriage to succeed, earnest prayer, careful thought and wise planning are needed. For example, we did not go in debt to have a lavish wedding. We knew how much we could afford and we made our plans accordingly. Afterwards in our marriage, we still tried to keep to our budget. I understand that a half of all marital breakups come because of disagreement over money matters. This is serious! It is not her money and his money, but our money. We have to put selfishness out of the financial equation, give God His portion, assess priorities and distribute the money accordingly.
Serious prayer, observation and assessment on the part of both prospective husband and wife are necessary. Sometimes individuals enter into this state of matrimony without due thought and consideration. Love (or lust) makes them blind, and they enter into relationships that later prove to be disastrous. To see a person on the surface and live with that individual are two different things. Even if the two people are Christians, the first year of marriage is crucial, requiring much give-and-take and consideration for the likes and dislikes of the other spouse. “In sickness and in health, till death do us part,” is a serious commitment.
Once, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you have chosen Mr. Right or Miss Right and have tied the knot, do not neglect the pleasantries and niceties you used to do while you were courting. Here is where some spouses take each other for granted and many marriages get “boring.” Life becomes a humdrum, routine affair. Love needs to be expressed in words as well as in deeds, in order to keep the love fire burning brightly. Love God supremely and your spouse with all your heart, for it does takes three!