A Love Story
By DANNY MINTON
Of all the stories around the sinking of the Titanic, the co-owner of Macy’s, Isidor and Ida Straus, stands out as one of a couple’s love and commitment. It’s a scene depicted in various ways in every movie and book centered on the tragedy. On April 18, 1912, a story came out of New York, “Mr. and Mrs. Isidor Straus were drowned together, Mrs. Straus refusing to leave her husband’s side. According to the descriptions given by fellow passengers, the noted New York millionaire and his wife went to their deaths together, standing arm in arm on the first cabin deck of the Titanic, Mr. Straus quietly and tenderly reassuring his wife so far as he could.”
Later, “Mr. Crawford, the bedroom steward on the Titanic, told of the late Mr. and Mrs. Straus. He said that Mrs. Straus put her maid into a boat and started herself to enter. Then she walked up to her husband and said, ‘We have been living a number of years together. We are not going to separate now.'” The newspaper reported, “As the lifeboats were receding from the scene of the disaster the couple were observed standing still calmly awaiting their inevitable fate.”
Isidor and Ida Straus had been married forty years, holding on to that commitment of love until the very end of their lives. June 15, my wife, Kathy, and I will celebrate fifty-three years of marriage. Like most married couples, our life together has had its ups and downs. We’ve reared two adopted sons, one of whom had cerebral palsy. We’ve moved more times than I can remember over the years and spent several ways making a living. We’ve had our financial struggles and our arguments. We’ve laughed together and cried together many times over our fifty-three-year journey. I have no idea how many more years are ahead, but I know, like the Straus’ we’ll make it as far as we can together.
We live in a society where marriage commitment seems to have lost its way. Couples express joy and happiness as they take the first step of life together, but for many, those moments fade away, sometimes quickly. So, the questions remain, “What makes a marriage last for fifty-three years?” “What does it take to commit a couple to die together, leaving behind children and family for each other?”
Years ago, I started giving a charge to the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony. There are five simple statements, spoken to each individually, that I present to them that can help make their marriage strong if they keep them in mind. They aren’t great words of wisdom but simple things to remember as they take the journey together.
- I charge them to continue to be affectionate, considerate and loving in all situations. They must understand that when two people wed, they become one. Keeping that in mind, they should remember to think of the other as they take steps in life.
- I charge them to respect that they are also individuals, and each has individual needs. Couples should allow each other the freedom to pursue things that build them up and their spouse.
- I remind the groom that he is to be the spiritual leader of their home, taking the lead role in helping his family grow spiritually. The bride is to walk with her spouse as they center their homes around Christ. They are to support each other as they strive to make their families closer to the Lord.
- I remind the groom that God made woman from the side of man, near the heart, to be loved and cherished. The bride is to show her love as the two work through the journey together.
- To the groom, I charge, “To show your love and not just say it. Remember that the head of the household is not a dictator. He’s not the boss. He’s not a taskmaster. To be the head of the home is to be a leader. He lives as a leader in love, willing to give up anything to better the family. He is an example of faith, strength when times are tough, and a loving arm to lean on when things go wrong.
To the bride, I charge, “To show your love and not just say it. Remember that your marriage is a partnership. It is one in which you work together, showing love by supporting each other and being there when all others have left.
Three other charges are made to them together:
- “I charge that you humbly dedicate your home and loved ones to Christ and that you practice the teachings of Christ in your home by being unselfish, loyal, and loving.”
- “I charge you to remain true to each other, even when all others turn away.”
- “Finally, I charge you to never go to sleep at night or part from each other with harsh words or hurt feelings. To keep your love as fresh and as new as the first time you looked into each other’s eyes and knew this was the person you wanted to live with for the rest of your life.”
Many of you who are married may have had similar things told to you on that special day. It would be good if we would pull out those words every so often and remember the commitment we promised, whether a year ago or decades later. Long marriages keep the promises made on that day fresh every day.
To those who have yet to be married, take time to think about the promises that you will make. Enter the relationship with expectations of spending years together. A long marriage takes work on both sides. Plan to make yours last a lifetime.
Have you ever written to your spouse since you’ve been married? On our fortieth anniversary, I made a book that began, “Once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl.” The pictures that followed briefly reflected the story of our life together those forty years. I’m not much of a poet, but at the end, I wrote her a note:
“Now the years have come and gone,
Though it really doesn’t seem that long.
But my hair is gray and thinner
My eyes a little dimmer
And my memory lags a bit behind.
But, Kat, I just want you to know,
That when I ponder these 40 years of so
Deep in this old heart of mine
I love you just as much today,
As Once Upon a Time.”
The love story of Isidor and Ida Straus remains frozen in time and will continue for years to come. It’s a story of a committed marriage of love and faithfulness. May God bless each of your homes and marriages and those of your children as you make your love story journeys together.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ