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  • Mike and Helen

Going for Gold!

The Olympics are coming but we’re going for our own gold medal – we’ve been training for it since 1968!

Fifty-three years ago last Sunday, we first set eyes on each other on a church motor-camp to Norway. It was hardly an auspicious meeting between two students struggling to hold on to their Christian faith in different universities. We were both relieved to find someone of our own age who understood that challenge. On all sorts of other fronts we misread each other’s signals! Some might say we have been doing so ever since!

Of course, our differences have made life interesting – if sometimes frustrating! But something ‘clicked’ in those early conversations and we held on to a friendship which eventually turned into love – and stayed that way! Next Wednesday will be our Golden Wedding Anniversary. We spent an hour this week looking at our wedding photos – we still do not have an album! We played the wedding music – Purcell’s Trumpet Tune and Air and C.S. Lang’s Tuba Tune. We have a four-minute videotape which we currently don’t know how to play!

We were such children! Naïve and unprepared. We have often said that we had little clue about what we were about to embark on as we exchanged vows. There were responsibilities whose weight we could not have imagined. Sparkling joys which amply balanced the equation. Shared commitments which stretched and exhausted us but bonded us to scores of people. Sadness too. Of the 70+ guests on our official wedding picture we reckon that about half are still with us. But then so many who were to bring such richness, delight and colour to our lives were not there either. They did not yet exist or we hadn’t met them.

We are quite amused when our children and so many of our younger friends tell us that 50 years is an amazing achievement. They live in a world where people move in ‘relationships‘ of a more transitory kind. For us, it is harder to be impressed. We know what has gone into crafting this marriage day after day sometimes clumsily, frequently inexpertly – the grind as well as the glory!

So what have we learned since we walked up the aisle together in 1971?

We have learned to be grateful. We would not have made it this far without the crucial support of parents who set us admirable examples of marital commitment and countless friends who have just stuck by us or talked us through tough spots individually and together. There were babysitters who gave us relief from relentless parenting responsibilities, some older, wiser heads who believed in us, family members who loved us, faced us gently with some of our nonsense and helped us to float our financial boat…

We have learned slowly....

.... that making time for open talking and reflective listening brings understanding and growth – and we ain’t finished yet!

.... that recognising and sharing your own needs is vital – but expecting any one person to meet all those needs is unrealistic!

.... that each of us needs time alone and the chance to grow professionally

.... that the moral high ground is a no-go area

.... that it’s important to laugh at ourselves and each other.

In Olympic terms - it is a marathon not a sprint – and we’re still running!

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