Today, Don and Patty Augestine celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary.
Let me just share with you my train of thought upon hearing this news at lunch yesterday: What in the world? Is that even possible? How old are these folks? They don't look a day over 75...did they get married when they were 11 years old?
Once I was able to suck in some air and get my thoughts together, my next thought was: I am going to break out some pen and paper and take notes! You don't get through 64 years of married without learning some tricks. Or, as Patty says, "If you've been married 64 years and haven't learned something, you haven't been listening to God."
To get the right advice, you gotta ask the right question. So, in all my eloquence of speech, I asked the Augestine's, "Is there some blanket, general, all-purpose advice that you can give as to how to be happily married for 64 years?" Without hesitation, Patty said, "Well, first, you gotta know the Lord." That melted my heart.
They went on to tell story after story about how God had worked in their life together. Don told us about the first time he remembered seeing Patty. They were in junior high school. Patty's mom put her long blond hair in ringlets just like Shirley Temple's. Don said that Patty had the biggest brown eyes and that whenever they parted all he could see were her big brown eyes. Patty went with Don to his senior prom, which, according to Don was her big mistake. That was the night he fell in love with Patty.
When I asked him what it was exactly that made him fall in love, he folded his napkin, wiped some taco chili off his face and said, "You know, lots of people have asked me that, and I used to say, 'I don't know.' It wasn't sexual. I feel sheepish saying that. But, that's what most people expect. Now, looking back, I just realize that Patty had the Holy Spirit in her. She had Jesus in her."
Don and Patty went on to tell many, many more stories and a total of 3 keys to a happy marriage:
1) You gotta know the Lord.
2) Take time to talk together.
3) If and when you have a disagreement, you should hold hands.
Marcos looked at me as Don mentioned the third step. "You might have a little trouble with that last one, Les." (Thanks for calling me out, Marcos.) What in the world? Why, or rather, how could you hold hands when you're angry? In my head, I imagined being in a row with Marcos and him holding my hands just so I wouldn't take a swing at him. When I confessed to Don and Patty that, sadly, I was born with a genetic mutation that made me do and say crazy things when I got angry (a genetic disposition I blame completely and entirely on my mother), Don simply said, "You should still hold hands. You'd be surprised how it bleeds the anger."
One last pearl of wisdom that Ms. Patty gave us is that we have to be aware of how Satan is just looking for the tiniest little crack where he can "stick his nose". Most people, she thinks, aren't even aware of how Satan is working in their lives. And even the Christians that are aware of Satan, don't do any thing about it.
When I asked how old they were when they got married (because I thought that was more polite than asking their age!), Don said, "What do you mean? We've been married all our lives."