A Love Story

A Love Story

By Eddie Boggess

 From Cedar Grove House to House/Heart to Heart, November/December, 2013

            "It is really just a love story.  They were so committed and loyal and dedicated, they weren't going to go anywhere without the other one."  Those are the words of Carol Romie regarding her parents.  According to a recent news report1, her parents Harold and Ruth Knapke passed away a few months ago on the same day in a shared nursing home room, after having been married for almost 66 years.  He was 91, and she was 89.  They had known each other since childhood, had courted each other as pen pals while he was serving in World War II, and had married in 1947.  They raised 6 children together.  As their health diminished, they moved into a nursing home room together.  As Ruth's health diminished faster, Harold tenderly cared for her.  When she passed from this life, he was by her side, and eleven hours later, he joined her.  Their daughters believed that he willed himself to pass in this way—that "he wanted to accompany her out of this life and into the next one." 

             Is not this a beautiful story of love and commitment?  Our society today can learn so much from Harold and Ruth Knapke.  Too often we look at relationships as disposable, especially the marriage relationship.  Our society sees marriage as a temporary thing.  Divorce is rampant.  Statistics hover between 40 and 50 percent of all marriages ending in divorce. In order to avoid divorce, some couples even chose not to marry, opting to live together instead.  Of course, living together is contrary to God's will (Hebrews 13:4), but it is still very common.  The amazing thing is that everyone recognizes that divorce is not a good thing.  We recognize the harm and damage it does.  We see the pain.  God does too and informs us that he hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), and that divorce and remarriage for any other reason than the unfaithfulness of one's spouse is adultery (Matthew 19:9).

             No one likes divorce, and yet it continues like a runaway train.  Why is this the case?  There is something important we are missing.  To find it we need to look to couples like Harold and Ruth Knapke.  To remain married for almost 66 years, through six children, good times and bad, sickness and health, etc., requires a strong commitment.  Of course, they loved each other.  More importantly, they understood that love is a commitment.  Oh that more couples would recognize that.

             According to the Bible, marriage involves commitment until death (Matthew 19:6, Romans 7:2). We understand that.  Do we also see, however, that such a commitment is the foundation of the marriage and the most basic element of the love that holds the couple together.  We tend to think of love as emotion—something we feel at times and at other times do not. We feel love for someone, so we get married.  We stop feeling love, so we get divorced.  Love is not a feeling, but rather a commitment.  We decide to love someone, no matter what happens.  That commitment is the foundation of the marriage. That is the commitment the Knapke's had. If more couples make that kind of commitment, then more marriages will last 66 years, and fewer painful, damaging, and sinful divorces will occur. 

 1  http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Ohio-couple-married-65-years-die-11-hours-apart-4762418.php