October 2023 Viewpoint
October 7, 1950, was the date that Earl and Sylvia Phillips married. (Read their testimonies here.) The math is easy—it was seventy-three years ago. Is marriage as easy? I asked them.
On their wedding day, the Phillips understood that the vows they exchanged were the beginning of a lifelong commitment. However, they could not envision what the subsequent seven-plus decades would hold! Easy? Brother Earl told me that marriage “has its bumps.” Those are not easy, but it is also not hard to endure them. Separately, Sister Sylvia also told me that marriage “has its bumps.” Notice a trend? The same language, but they agreed that a bump is not the end of a marriage! When one of those bumps surfaced, Sister Sylvia would ask herself, “Why did I marry him in the first place?” The answer: “I married him because I loved him.” That is how she kept her love for him fresh. Their advice is to weather the storms. Together. Remember, storms pass.
What has been the secret of their success? Sister Sylvia said that they do not go to sleep at night without telling each other, “I love you.” She also said that one should not be afraid to say, “I am sorry,” and added, “We have to do that quite often.” They advised that couples should enjoy spending time together. Brother Earl says they have done so, “Just the two of us.” That has been true, whether running errands, eating lunch out, going to the beach, or shopping. They have appreciated being “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).
Brother Earl cautioned that it is important for young couples to be careful with their finances. Do not use credit cards to go into debt. They both emphasized the importance of devotions. While separate work and home schedules will present challenges, look for opportunities to read the Bible and pray together, even if for a short time.
The Phillips’ marriage yielded four children. What did they do for family time? They did enjoy recreational activities as a family, but a priority was to attend church and church activities together. To them, that constituted family time. Their children never doubted where they would be when the church lights were on. Family life provided a good foundation for church life, and vice versa. They all valued both.
My wife, Debbie, witnessed their marriage for three and a half years after her high school graduation. She was living with them up until we married in 1976. I asked her, “What lessons did you learn from observing their marriage?” She appreciated observing firsthand what she deemed to be a real-life, properly functioning marriage. Debbie noticed that they did more than talk about praying for their needs—they actually prayed. When she had anxiety about her future, they encouraged her to “seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), and “delight thyself also in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4). When she expressed worry, they asked, “Are you delighting thyself in the Lord?”
Brother Earl and Sister Sylvia now claim to be elderly. It is true that he will turn ninety-four years old just three days after their upcoming wedding anniversary, and she recently turned ninety-one. To this day, they continue to love each other, enjoy life as husband and wife, endure challenges, attend church as a couple, and end each day saying, “I love you.”
Jesus used marriage to illustrate the bond between Himself and the Church, and the Phillips’ marriage is a good example of that illustration. Whether our current season in life seems easy or hard, we can all appreciate that we have a loving Savior who will stand beside us and help us overcome every “bump” on our journey. The articles in this magazine provide encouragement to that end. May God bless you as you look His way throughout life.