Harley Shephard Houston & Lucille Elizabeth Schubert Houston
Married November 7, 1948
I recently read a blog written by a friend where he told the story of his grandparents. He explained how, over the nearly fifty years together, they held strong in their marriage, even with all of its ups and downs, good times and bad, sorrow and happiness. Then my friend pondered the question of why marriages today don't seem to last and thrive like those of yesterday. What did those marriages have that today's marriages do not? What is it that kept couples together then that do not today? Why is it easier to walk out on a marriage today than to stay together 'in sickness and in health, through good times and in bad'? My friend also asked that his readers consider the stories of our own grandparents, so here is mine...
Harley S. Houston, a small-town Iowa farm boy, full of life and faith.
Lucille E. Schubert, a corn fed country girl, sweet and full of grace.
While their families lived in the same area and they both attended high school together, though my grandmother actually a year older than my grandfather, they did not start dating until after graduating. In fact, they did not start dating officially until after my grandfather returned from serving as a Marine in WWII. While he was in the marines he was stationed somewhere near the Philippines, and my grandmother and her friends would write letters to the boys from home. I heard stories growing up that somewhere in my grandparents old farmhouse was hidden a stack of mail tied together, aged from years of love and dust, and covered in memories, the letters they shared during the war. I used to tease my grandmother that I would someday find the letters and read them, to which she would reply that she either didn't know what I was talking about, or say she had moved them to a new spot.
When my grandfather returned from the war, he asked my grandmother to marry him, and they began their lives together on November 7th, 1948 by vowing to love and honor each other all of their lives, in front of family and friends joined together at the church that my grandfather's ancestors helped to build, and where my grandfather's parents were married as well.
Through the years my grandfather worked hard as a farmer, raising cattle, kids and crops, and through it all my grandmother was by his side as his helpmate in every sense of the word. If he needed help, she was there, ready and eager to lend a hand. The only task on the farm that I never saw my grandmother help with was moving the cattle from one pasture to another, when my grandfather would let them meander down the lane and into the next open gate, all-the-while my grandmother hid in the house, starring out the window watching a few of the cattle wander into her yard and trample her flowers. It was usually during this scene that I heard her mutter, "I don't know why your grandpa does this! He knows I hate it when he moves them and they get in my yard!"
But even as she would say those words, they were spoken with a tone of love and with respect for his duty as a farmer.
I never witnessed my grandparents have a fight-ever. Sure, they exchanged challenging looks from time to time, and little disagreements, usually on whether to finish watching the news after supper or switch to Wheel of Fortune. I also never once saw either of them treat the other without respect. Words were carefully thought through and said in a loving manner.
I can honestly say that the first time I ever saw someone read their Bible outside of church that it was in the home of my grandparents. Their's usually sat on their end table in the living room, between their rocking chairs, and usually left open or marked on a particular page. I sometimes wonder if I were there today, and that end table still existed, and that Bible still marked, what passage it would be on. My grandparents were also the first people that I noticed prayed before every meal, even if sometimes it was a simple, "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let this food to us be blessed," a family favorite.
When I look back on my life and my journey of faith, I cannot hit replay without watching scenes like the above mentioned play out. My grandparents were the cornerstone to my faith in Christ, and He, I believe, was the cornerstone of their marriage. And with that said, I believe the reason they stayed together, in love, for nearly sixty years, without leaving each other's side, even till the end when my grandfather passed away in the Spring of 2002.
What have they taught me or what can I take from them and apply in my marriage?
1. Their faith in Jesus Christ. He was, I believe, the center and focus of their marriage. Along with praising Him at home, they never missed a chance to worship Him on Sunday in the very church they were married in.
2. Their endurance through trials. They grew up during the Great Depression, they were in high school during WWII, and married just before the 1950's. They lost family, lost parents, lost brothers. At any point, they could have given in, thrown in the towel, walked away or walked out like many couples do today, but they endured-together.
3. Their commitment to one another. They supported one another, loved one another, respected one another. My grandmother was my grandfather's helpmate-she served him and her family first, always putting herself last.
Unlike a lot of families in the world today, I'm very grateful that I can look back on the lives of my grandparents with love and joy and rejoice in the life they shared together, and pray that Alan and I might have the same marriage, built on the same principles that held them together for over half a century.
Author's Note: The same Christmas that my grandmother passed away, as we were cleaning out her things, we found a stack of mail, aged with love and dust, and covered in memories. My mom and I have begun to read a few of them, and I can't wait to read the rest and watch the story of my grandparent's love be revealed...