Family on Friday: 45 Years—What Have We Learned?

SusanBillcroppedTomorrow, on June 13, I will have been married to William Cushman for forty-five years. We were married by Rev. Jack Oates and Rev. James Turner at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi. Jack had been our minister while we were at Ole Miss, where he taught sociology and preached on Sundays at College Hill Presbyterian Church in Oxford, Mississippi. Jimmy was the youth pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, where I spent many nights at Bible studies and attended many teen retreats on weekends during high school.

 

My Aunt Barbara Jo (wedding coordinator) and my Maid of Honor, Jan Connors, and my Matron of Honor, Cathy Moore Kerr help with the garter.

My Aunt Barbara Jo (wedding coordinator) and my Maid of Honor, Jan Connors, and my Matron of Honor, Cathy Moore Kerr help with the garter.

My brother, Mike Johnson, was head groomsman (just home from a deployment to the Philippines, wearing his Marine Corps dress blues) and we had eight bridesmaids and eight groomsmen. Well, counting a Matron of Honor (Kathy Moore Kerr), a Maid of Honor (Jan Connors) and a Best Man (Tod Cushman). The bridesmaids ranged in age from 15 to 19. I had just turned 19 three months before the wedding. Most of the groomsmen were respectably in their twenties.  (Bill and I were 17 and 19 when we started dating.)

WeddingParty

We’re still in touch with many of our wedding attendants, although we only live in the same town with one of them—Troy Mashburn, who is pastor of the church where my husband serves as associate pastor. (Who knew, when these men were pursuing their degrees in business and medicine, and later their secular careers, that they would end up serving together as priests in the Orthodox Church?)

bride and maids 1970

I was such a hippie bride with my hat… and my bridesmaids wore dotted swiss, bell-bottomed pants suits.I wanted a garden wedding….

My cup runneth over as I think of the blessings—and the struggles—of these 45 years. We lived the first 18 of them in Jackson and the next 27 in Memphis. We adopted three children, and had at least one of them living at home from 1977-2001 (with a couple of extended boomerang visits since then).

On a boat from Athens, Greece, to Aegina in 2010. A pilgrimage to Orthodox sites.

On a boat from Athens, Greece, to Aegina. A pilgrimage to Orthodox sites.

We’ve travelled together to many states including Alaska and Hawaii, and also to Australia, Canada, England, Italy, Germany, Monaco, Greece, the Czech Republic, Austria, Mexico, Bermuda and the Bahamas. What’s left on our “bucket list” for travel? Paris! It didn’t work out to go this year, but we’re hopeful for 2016.

 

What have we learned during these forty-five years of married life? (This is my blog, so I guess I can only speak for myself. I’m sure Bill would have a lot more to say!) A few reflections:

Love is something you decide to do. It’s not an emotion, although it’s wonderful when the feelings are also there.

FBProPicWeddingLove can’t last without forgiveness. We are fallen human beings and we are going to hurt each other. But forgiveness can enable us to heal and move forward.

Trials can either make or break a marriage. When I survived a life-threatening wreck two years ago next month, my husband became the most amazing caregiver anyone could want. I feel back in love with him all over again. During the months that I was essentially house-bound, I waited eagerly for his return from work each day. The best part of my day was when he would bring our supper into my office (where I was sleeping on a hospital bed) and sit in the chair beside me and eat with me and tell me about his day. I felt like we were newlyweds in many ways.

In Florence for our 40th anniversary in 2010.

In Florence for our 40th anniversary in 2010.

Your spouse can’t always be your best friend. I think women especially need best friends. My best friends aren’t in any way a threat to our marriage. They strengthen it.

A marriage isn’t made up of two halves. It’s two wholes. Each person in a marriage needs room to become the complete person we’re meant to be. Only then can we bring our whole selves to the relationship. I think this is especially important for wives who traditionally have seen their role as somehow “completing” their husband and being completed by him.

My tea girls were friends from high school or my freshman (and only) year at Ole Miss.

My tea girls were friends from high school or my freshman (and only) year at Ole Miss.

Bill's groomsmen were mostly friends from Ole Miss, plus his brother and his best friend from high school back in Atlanta.

Bill’s groomsmen were mostly friends from Ole Miss, plus his brother and his best friend from high school back in Atlanta.

My friends from high school and my new sister-in-law.

My friends from high school and my new sister-in-law.

When I started writing this post I thought it would just be a paragraph or two and then I’d include a lot of photos from our wedding. Guess I’m just in a reflective mood. And happy and thankful to have shared 70% of my life with this wonderful man.

 

8 comments


  • Cindy

    Lovely post. Truths about marriage. You say “I do” every day if you are committed to being married.
    Also never realized your bridesmaids were wearing bell bottomed pants. That is pretty rad.

    June 12, 2015
    • Thanks, Cindy. The bell bottoms and my hat were my nod to the garden wedding I really wanted:-)

      June 14, 2015
  • Blessings on your anniversary! it sounds like you have had many adventures along the way and I wish you many more! Well, many more positive ones – no more car accidents.

    June 13, 2015
  • F. Earl Fyke, MD

    All these years later, I say again “Thank you!” for letting me be part of that wonderful event so long ago. We were friends because of Jesus. Somewhere I have a favorite picture of you two. Kodachrome 25. Leica IIIc.

    June 13, 2015
    • Thanks so much for being there, Earl. We need a “reunion” with you and Nancy… it’s been too long! Would love to see that favorite picture if you ever find it!

      June 14, 2015
  • Nina Gaby

    Love this and it feels especially special now that I’ve met Bill and Jan!

    June 14, 2015
    • That’s right, Nina… you met them both during the Southern book tour for “Dumped”! Thanks for reading.

      June 14, 2015

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