I . . . take thee . . .
to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better for worse,
for richer for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death us do part . . .”
With optimism and hope, couples say these or similar words on their wedding day. But how many will have the courage and determination to live this way the rest of their lives?
I want to introduce Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher from North Carolina. This sweet couple, who jumped the broom back in 1924, held the Guinness World Record for the longest marriage of a living couple and were married for 86 years.
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it” ~1 Thessalonians 5: 24
Together, as young friends and then later when married, they survived the effects of World War I and II, the Great Depression, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement and 15 presidential administrations.
During the Depression, Herbert lived off the land and worked for as little as 5 cents a day. They had to raise their own food and ration it for their five children. Unable to afford a car, Herbert got to work as a mechanic the best way he could. Undaunted, Herbert built their home with his own hands in 1942.
Herbert and Zelmyra’s Secrets
This is an interview they gave in 2011. We certainly can gain perspective from their simple, straightforward words they called their secrets.
1.) What made you realize that you could spend the rest of your lives together? Were you scared at all?
H & Z: With each day that passed, our relationship was more solid and secure. Divorce was NEVER an option – or even a thought.
2.) How did you know your spouse was the right one for you?
We grew up together and were best friends before we married. A friend is for life – our marriage has lasted a lifetime.
3.) Is there anything you would do differently after more than 80 years of marriage?
We wouldn’t change a thing. There isn’t any secret. It was only God that kept us together. We just did what was needed for each other & our family.
4.) What was the best piece of marriage advice you ever received?
Respect, support, and communicate with each other. Be faithful, honest, and true. Love each other with ALL of your heart.
5.) What are the most important attributes of a good spouse?
Zelmyra: A hard worker and good provider. The 1920s were hard, but Herbert wanted and provided the best for us. I married a good man!
6.) You got married very young – how did you both manage to grow as individuals yet not grow apart as a couple?
“Everyone who plants a seed and harvests the crop celebrates together.” We are individuals, but accomplish more together.
7.) What is your fondest memory of your 85-year marriage?
Our legacy: 5 children, 10 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild.
8.) Does communicating get easier with time? How do you keep your patience?
The children are grown, so we talk more now. We can enjoy our time on the porch in our rocking chairs – together.
9.) How did you cope when you had to be physically separated for long periods of time?
Herbert: We were apart for 2 months when Zelmyra was hospitalized with our 5th child. It was the most difficult time of my life. Zelmyra’s mother helped me with the house and the other children, otherwise I would have lost my mind.
10.) At the end of bad relationship day, what is the most important thing to remind yourselves?
Remember marriage is not a contest – never keep a score. God has put the two of you together on the same team to win.
11.) Is fighting important?
NEVER physically! Agree that it’s okay to disagree and fight for what really matters. Learn to bend – not break!
12.) What’s the one thing you have in common that transcends everything else?
We are both Christians and believe in the Lord. Marriage is a commitment to God. We pray with and for each other every day.
Herbert and Zelmyra called these their ‘secrets’. And though none of us are perfect, but they shouldn’t be secrets to those with God’s promises and commands as their guide.
They enjoyed each other’s company until Herbert passed away in 2011 at the age of 105, leaving behind his 103 year old bride.
(Q and A excerpted from online newspaper Your Black World)
Do you have any secrets to share with us?
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…” ~Philippians 1:6
“White hair is a crown of glory if it is found in the way of righteousness.” ~Proverbs 16:31
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