Summary: The finally to our "I Do" Sermon Series focusing on going the distance in our Christian Lives and our Marriages.

Ephesians 5:1-33

1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- 30 for we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a profound mystery-- but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

“I Do Part 5 - Going the Distance”

The screenwriter Ben Hecht once wrote, "There's nothing so nice as a new marriage.” I’m sure there’s more than a few people here today who would beg to differ. I would like to start out today with a little audience participation. I would like to get a snapshot of how long couples in our church have committed to one another.

So to start out, if you and your spouse have been married, or were married for at least one year, please stand.

If you have been married or were married for five years remain standing.

If you have been married or were married for ten years remain standing.

If you have been married or were married for twenty years remain standing.

If you have been married or were married for thirty years remain standing.

If you have been married or were married for forty years remain standing.

If you have been married or were married for fifty years remain standing.

If you have been married or were married for sixty years remain standing.

Let’s give all of our couples a round of applause for encouragement.

Happy Valentines day. You know, one of the benefits of having a sermon series about love and marriage around valentines day is that the newspapers and internet were filled with great stories to use as illustrations. For instance, MSN had a front-page story about couples who have made it past the 50 year mark and they asked them what it took to make it that long. Betty and Louis Chernoff, for instance, have been married over 60 years and they shared some of their most unforgettable moments and secrets of staying (happily) together with MSN.

In 1941, an 11-year-old Louis walked into a junior-high-school dance and asked a friend to point out the prettiest girl in the room. "He pointed to one girl and I said, 'She isn't pretty enough.' But the girl behind her was." Louis tapped Betty's dance partner on the shoulder and announced that he was cutting in, and he and Betty danced together the rest of the afternoon. They kept in touch over the years but didn't date seriously until college. "Then we did everything together," says Louis. At age 20, they married. For a wedding gift, Louis bought Betty a torpedo-back Buick Riviera. But the next morning, as they prepared to drive away for their honeymoon, the car broke down in front of her parents' house. Her father said, “My goodness, is the marriage over already?" Betty recalls with a laugh. It definitely wasn’t over already.

So what do they say has been the key to staying together for so long? Well, they still dance together every day. At 6:30 every single morning they have a standing date where they turn the radio on… and dance. "We enjoy disco dancing and jitterbugging," says Betty. "We keep going until a song comes on the radio that we don't like."

Five other couples gave MSN their story, and while each one is different… there are a few things in common: love, respect, and a sense of “we’re in this together.”

This idea of “we’re in this together” also showed up in a Pantagraph story this past week. There was a study done recently at the University of California, Berkeley. The study suggests that “we” language used between spouses in times of conflict goes along with less negative behavior and fewer signs of stress in lengthy marriages. Other studies have also indicated that use of inclusive pronouns that include “we,” “our” and “us” – versus “I,” “me” and “you” – are evidence of marital satisfaction.

It makes a huge difference for couples who have been together a long time. For those couples who use inclusive pronouns, they are more relaxed, have slower heart rates and lower blood pressure during times of great stress.

“We found more ‘we’ language in older couples and in happier couples,” said Robert Levenson, the study’s senior researcher.

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