Doubly successful in marriage
2013. A retired New Zealand vicar who’s been blessed with two long, happy marriages knows the secret of success.
Cecil Marshall, now eighty-six, was married to Barbara for 40 years. After her death 18 years ago, he was devastated but remarried and has enjoyed another 17 years of marriage to Margaret.
Asked what held his first marriage together for so long, Cecil says that from the very start the glue was “love for God, sharing of spiritual things and reading the Bible together. We felt guided.”
And Barbara was incredibly supportive of his demanding work for the Anglican Church, which was of immense help.
Cecil, now eighty-six, and living in Wellington, recalls their decision to marry: “God wanted us to go ahead and do it…It was the right thing to do.”
Cecil and Barbara also like each other’s families, which always helps!
“We had a happy marriage,” concludes Cecil.
Barbara died of cancer suddenly in 1995. But Cecil’s second marriage, to Margaret, has also been happy and long-lasting.
Their meeting came through Cecil’s first wife. Margaret was a friend of Barbara, and both were on the national board of a Christian woman’s organization.
Becoming a widower made Cecil feel “dreadfully empty” inside, but God brought Margaret to him when he was at his lowest ebb. Cecil’s parishioners prayed for him, and the healing process began. Margaret prayed for him too, and, he says, “We connected.”
They shared common ground as Margaret was a widow, and both had a prayer ministry.
Cecil believes his first marriage was enhanced by experiences of Jesus that he had in the 1960’s. Barbara observed that he had more patience, and he was more attentive to her and their four children.
The former vicar admits there was a time when he used to berate his congregation about their Christian faith and he had to humbly apologize to his flock, yet he says God made this difficult step easier to bear.
After publicly confessing his shortfalls, Cecil saw a woman in a pew with her head down. He asked for if she was put off by his admission. She replied, “I saw the glory of the Lord and I gave my heart to Jesus.” Cecil says that was a wonderful, beautiful moment and there were others like it.
Barbara had her own experience of Jesus that made her overjoyed and drew the couple closer together. Cecil says that in both his long-lasting marriages it was important to appreciate one another’s uniqueness and to “keep on keeping on” (commitment!), with Jesus firmly in the center as the anchor. Marriage, he explains, is not something he ever thought of opting out of. It’s a race until the finish line.
By Peter Veugelaers
Published 2013, Good News Paper (UK)