Getting married may come easy to some, but staying married…that’s a whole other realm of commitment. I spent a couple evenings with Jerry and Linda when I rented their guest house on Airbnb and they have agreed to share their story with us and give advice on how to create a lasting marriage.
“Our first date was to a Valentines’s banquet at Henderson St. Baptist Church. After a very fast courtship, Jerry proposed in May.” He asked Linda if she believed in long engagements…they were married just two months later on July 7, 1967. Jerry was 19 and Linda was 4 days short of being 18. “We had no idea what we were getting into. All we knew was that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other. Even though we were happy together, we realized something was missing. Our home wasn’t complete without Jesus Christ. In 1969, Jerry became a Christian and Linda re-dedicated her life to God. We committed our home and our family to Christ. Together we have laughed and cried, experienced great joy and deep sadness, health and sickness, grief and comfort. We have praised God and failed God; but God never failed us. Our lives have been full and we are blessed beyond measure.”
I didn’t know this story until after I insisted on photographing them to honor 53 years of marriage. There was just something about them that I instantly loved. I was drawn to their quaint home on airbnb, and I felt excited when driving there from the Fort Worth-Dallas airport, as if I was meant to be on this adventure at this given time. When I saw how much respect and love they still had for each other, and for their home and even their guests, I knew I had to learn their secret.
They invited me in for lunch and we talked about their life together. “We were so young! But never did we think we think of leaving.” A few minutes later Linda says, “I need to take that back. We did get in a fight a couple weeks into marriage and I stubbornly told him to leave, and he stubbornly told me to leave. He said, ‘There’s no way I’m going back to my moms’, and she said, ‘well I’m not going to live with my mom again either’…so we both ended up laughing and made up. We know our mothers loved us and we ended up having a great relationship with them, but we joke that it was our mother’s tough love that made our relationship last.”
I then told them my story… how I have worked hard building a photography business from the ground up, and how my two girls are the loves of my life. I told them how I feel successful in all areas of my life besides maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. I laughed and said, “I can’t figure out if I need to lower my expectations or if I just haven’t found someone that perfectly fits into my already awesome life.” Jerry said with confidence, “Find someone who completes your life, not someone who complicates it. There is a person who will do that, and don’t waste your valuable time on anyone who doesn’t. Never choose to marry someone for what you hope they will become; marry someone for who they are…” and in perfect sync they both said, “because that’s who they are going to be!”
If you’d like to meet these beautiful souls, or have a nice little Texas getaway in the suburbs of Fort Worth, HERE is the link to their Airbnb property.