Jeannie Bruenning Author

Forty

Forty years – how did we make it through 40 years?

When I look at the number ten – looks like a very nice number, twenty looks a bit fanciful, thirty is whimsical, but forty looks solid.

I googled the meaning of the number 40 – the number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation – doesn’t that describe marriage perfectly? The number 40 represents transition or change; the concept of renewal; a new beginning. The number 40 has the power to lift a spiritual state – as one who has lived through 40 years of marriage, this is just a little exciting…renewal, new beginnings, power to lift. 

In the Bible, the number 40 is used over 100 times. It rained on Noah for 40 days. Jesus was in the wilderness having deep conversation with Satan for 40 days. He also went up into the clouds 40 days after coming out of the tomb. Really holy people fasted for 40 days without dying. 

It took 40 years for the Israelites to go from Egypt to the Promise Land. 40 years of wandering, complaining, miracles, forgetting, remembering, picking up food off the ground each morning, sickness, death, wars, golden calfs, broken tablets, 10 commandments, and an overwhelming fear of what’s next.

When I compare marriage to these stories, I can’t say that I’ve felt like it’s been raining the last 4 decades, a few big storms perhaps. I wouldn’t say that the last 40 years have been deep daily conversations with Satan…at least not the entire 40. I’ve never disappeared into the clouds, I may have wanted to – so ascending doesn’t describe it either. 

40 years of wandering around, being lead by a bright light, building alters, complaining, being grateful, filling up with fear, learning to be grateful again, moving our tent, fighting a few more battles, thinking we’re going to die, celebrating deliverance…yep that’s what it compares to. 

What came after all that wandering? Well, when the Israelites finally ended their journeying and arrived at the promised land, they were fearful it was too good. Surely life couldn’t be that good – there must be something wrong. 

This 40 year union we’ve survived could see another 40 years, I may have to prop Jeff up for the last 10, but it is possible. These next 40 are going to be good ol’ years. I hope it’s too good to be true! I want there to be giant grapes, endless cocktails, a new generation (or two) of grand kids, drives on the ocean, happy hours on the hill, sunset to put on instagram, and parties with no end.

Forty – the end and beginning all rolled into one. 

But I’m still not sure how we made it.

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