With this article, WORLD begins an occasional online series profiling couples who have been married for at least 35 years. As sociologist Mark Regnerus writes, "Young adults want to know that it's possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it." It is also important to see that marriages are not always happy all the time, but commitment is crucial.
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa.—Rick and Linda Taylor share a daily routine. Rick brings a cup of coffee and the newspaper to Linda in bed every morning before he leaves for work. Linda makes dinner every evening, and Rick cleans up. Before bed, they watch cooking shows together. In a nation where 50 percent of married couples get divorced, Rick and Linda have had to fight to stay married for 37 years.
"I was raised with marriages that were lasting," Rick said.
The Taylors met while attending the University of Pittsburgh. Eight months later, they were married. Their wedding picture, nestled within a wooden frame in their living room, shows a happy couple. But that newly wedded couple didn't realize they were headed for a rocky first year.
Linda remembers the lonely days of being holed up in their tiny new apartment in Philadelphia while Rick worked as a poorly paid teacher at a small Christian school. She remembers standing in a grocery store aisle crying, without enough money to buy food.
One day the Taylors had another quarrel over financial matters. Rick stormed off to work, only to return home to luggage packed with his belongings waiting outside the door. He reached to open the door but found it locked. Linda sat on the other side of the door with tears streaming down her face. Rick pounded on the door, begging her to let him in. She eventually did.
The marriage survived and two daughters came, but in 1996 the Taylors moved to Williamsport, Pa., for Rick's new teaching job at Pennsylvania College of Technology. Linda said the sudden uprooting "undid us." Laura, the oldest daughter, was entering her junior year of high school, and Jen was just entering high school.
Laura cried through her junior year. After leaving her friends and familiar surroundings, she fell into an eating disorder—a big blow to the Taylors' already unstable marriage. Linda tried desperately to help Laura and hold the family together, but Rick was too busy with his new job and church work to notice his family's unhappiness.
When the couple's marriage seemed on the verge of breaking apart, they started seeing a counselor. Divorce was never an option: They were determined to find a way to pull their family back together.
Even after 37 years, they still don't always communicate clearly. Linda said it's a work in progress: "It keeps us humble. It keeps us dependent on the Lord."
The Taylors said their marriage has lasted because they value the promise they made before God on their wedding day to commit to one another—through tearful fights, lockouts, and all.
"She is my spice," Rick said. "Otherwise I would be terribly boring."
See also "65 years and counting: Tom and Jane Werkema recommend that young couples make faith and family a priority," by J.C. Derrick, Aug. 23.