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50 Lessons From 50 Years of Marriage: Learning About God’s Blueprints for Marriage

By Barbara Rainey

First posted on

Fifty years ago when I (Dennis) married Barbara Ann Peterson I was a rookie, repeatedly failing to appreciate the dignity of the gifted woman, friend, partner, lover, and confidante God had brought me. Honestly, I barely even knew her.

Looking back, we both realize we had no idea what we were doing. We thought we knew each other so well and were so alike, but we were clueless. But God in His grace and kindness guided us because we were both committed to doing marriage His way. He helped us, orchestrated circumstances, provided generously for us in all our many inadequacies.

Even in the seasons when we felt helpless and hopeless, He was present and working on our hearts. We just didn’t always see His hand. Hindsight is clearer.

Now our 50th anniversary is coming up on September 2. After five decades of married life … after six children and (soon to be) 27 grandchildren … we’ve learned and relearned more than we can count. But we did come up with a list, and over the next four weeks we want to give you a selection. If you enjoy this, be sure to get the book, Our Story, that lists all “50 Lessons from 50 Years of Marriage.”

We hope this might encourage you in your life and marriage to keep on and never stop believing God, no matter what befalls you.

On our honeymoon near Steamboat Springs, CO

Lesson #1: The couple that prays together stays together.

In the first few months of our marriage, I (Dennis) asked a mentor this question: “You’ve been married 25 years. What’s the best piece of advice you can give me just starting my marriage?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” he replied. “Pray with your wife every day.”

I said, “That’s it? Pray with your wife?”

“That’s it.”

So I went home and Barbara and I started praying together. It worked really well for a couple of months … until the night we went to bed facing opposite walls. Although it wasn’t the most comfortable position physically, it expressed where we were spiritually and emotionally.

There seemed to be a tap on my shoulder that night and it wasn’t Barbara. God was speaking to me in my conscience saying, “Hey, Rainey! Aren’t you going to pray with her tonight?”

I said, “I don’t like her tonight!” God said, “Yes, but you made the commitment to pray every day with your wife.”

I faced a hard decision. Not praying would make me feel better but this was about more than satisfying myself. So I swallowed my pride, turned to Barbara, and said, “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?”

We’ve both gone to bed angry or hurt which led to late conversations until we resolved our impasse and then prayed. Sometimes we’ve agreed to table the discussion until the morning so we could pray and get some rest. Over 50 years we have learned we are two strong-willed, stubborn and at times rebellious people who continue to choose to surrender to God together every day in prayer.