Married For 32 Years

BtCtTimmyThis past week my wife Christy and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. Our older UBF missionaries have been married much longer than we have. But I think that my marriage is the longest standing native indigenous non-missionary UBF marriage. We married by faith in 1981. The singular word to describe my marriage is HAPPY. This is nothing but the love of God and the sheer grace of Jesus, because the two of us are unlike in virtually all ways, except our faith.

She loves gardening; I don’t. She loves traveling and seeing places; I don’t. I am picky about what I eat; she isn’t. I love sports; she doesn’t. I love macho movies like the Terminator; she doesn’t. She loves the Garfield movie voiced by Bill Murray, while that “horrible” movie drives me insane! She is (probably) an Arminian; I am (definitely) a Calvinist.

Our personalities are also at opposite ends of the spectrum. She is perfectionistic and follows rules; I am a non-conformist and break all rules possible. She is detail oriented; I completely ignore details. I am highly autonomous and self-functioning, while she insists that I fill her in on my plans (which I often forget to do!). She avoids conflict; I seek it and thrive on it. According to her she has the common sense…. I have to sadly confess that I cannot deny that!

FamilyAgi'sBenji'sGraduationI felt inspired to write this after reading Ed Stetzer’s post: Ten Things I’ve Learned After 26 Years of Marriage. So what have I learned about my marriage?

  1. The more I love Jesus, the more I love my wife and the happier our marriage is.
  2. My love, friendship and intimacy with my wife gives me a glimpse and a foretaste of my ultimate union with Jesus when he comes again.
  3. There is nothing happier in all of life this side of heaven than when God’s love and grace is the foundation of our marriage.
  4. Because of God’s love poured out into our marriage, God gives us grace to also love others, as He has loved us.
  5. We learn to love each others’ “highly annoying idiosyncrasies.” We both love this very practical and realistic phrase that I first heard from John Piper.
  6. The best way to love my children is to love their mother. And I cannot “fake” loving their mother. My four kids will sniff it out a mile away.
  7. Our four kids have been our very best marriage counselors. The best advice I received from my kids are, “Dad, don’t make mom cry!!!”
  8. Only God makes “marriage by faith” work, since I did not know anything about my wife before marriage.
  9. Our three cats enhance the quality and joy of our already happy marriage.
  10. My wife loving me despite myself helps me to more deeply realize just how much God loves me despite myself.
  11. A happy wife is a happy life. There is no greater joy this side of heaven than to see my wife happy.
  12. Marriage points to God, to Jesus, to the Holy Spirit, and to the Gospel of our salvation.

Do share your pearls of wisdom from your own marriage.


  1. Congrats Ben on your wedding anniversary. My parents married the same year as you. I suppose that your blog on your 60th anniversary will contain 24 points? Or is the trend exponential rather than linear?

    • When I started writing out the points, I had no idea that I would end up with 12. As Indiana Jones said, “I make it up as I go along!” That’s my strategy in life and writing…

  2. Ben, do you mean that you were the first couple to marry in America UBF? Or are you the first couple that married who remain in UBF? Or are you the first couple who married in America UBF who remained married?

    If the last one, what a sad testimony!

  3. “do you mean that you were the first couple to marry in America UBF?” – See more at: Yes. On 8/15/1981, 3 couples married in Chicago UBF: Geordan and Joan; Andy and Wendy, and Christy and I were the 3rd couple. Geordan has gone to be with the Lord, while Andy and Wendy have left UBF.

    According to my wife, an American shepherd from Toledo UBF (BN) may have married before us. He married a missionary in Korea. He left UBF some years ago. I am facebook friends with his wife, and correspond now and then.

    Also, a UBF shepherd from Koln UBF (AVK) in Germany may have also married before we did, and who also married a Korean missionary.

    Since UBF seems to like distinctions, my wife and I are thus the first one pure indigenous (non-missionary) couple who are still a married couple in UBF. Sorry for my complex complicated confounding conundrum creating explanation of your simple inquiry! If I have to blame someone for this, I’ll blame the several decades of discipleship training I received in UBF :-)

  4. Congratulations! Love the family picture!

  5. Congratulations Ben and Christy. Your hospitality to me this past year has been much appreciated.

    Ben, you asked “Do share your pearls of wisdom from your own marriage.”

    My pearls of wisdom about marriage? Well I could share how to sacrifice your marriage for the sake of world campus mission. I could share how to pretend you are married so that you don’t tempt the little ones of Jesus. I could share how to live for 19 years as single people. I could share how to be mission-centered at the expense of your family so that you are not family-centered.

  6. Terry Lopez


    I must say, it was this post that really compelled me to finally join. I am really moved by your love relationship with your wife. I would like to share with you, that by God’s amazing grace, He gave me the best wife for me, I could ever ask for. I would love to share with you the card she sent to me on Father’s Day, but it was meant for me. But what I would like to do is share the letter my oldest son wrote to me for Father’s Day. (he’s a boy-I don’t think he’ll mind if I share it… :-D )

    Happy Father’s Day!

    Dear Dad,

    Thank you for always being there for us through all my life. I’m so grateful to be able to call you dad. I’m truly happy and blessed to have lived in your household for the last 19 years. Through all my mistakes throughout middle, high school and college, thank you for loving me and forgiving me and showing me the love of God. I have so many things to be thankful for, but I want to thank you especially for always being there and supporting me. Actually, last night Andrew, Mark (*my twin sons) and I were talking about how thankful that we grew up as a Lopez in this household. We’re so happy to have grown up as we did in the best imaginable environment. 2 Parents who are madly in love 4 brothers, loving grandparents/great grandparents, great church and friends, no real financial troubles, a very laid back city and ultimately in a household filled with God’s love in excess. I never have to fear anything, because I have a father who God loves and takes care of. For all this thank you. I don’t think I could have imagined a better storybook life with the greatest dad any son can have. I’m proud to call you father.

    Thank you for everything,


    I have to say Ben, when I received this letter from my son, my heart burst in joy and happiness. I’m obviously boasting, but I really am happy with my family. God has blessed me beyond belief. And I certainly didn’t do anything to deserve it. I really thank God!!!

  7. Thanks, Terry, for sharing the letter of your son Peter with us! It is truly such a joy and delight to read it. Thank God for the marvelous grace of Jesus that is expressed through you and your family.

    Welcome to UBFriends and do contribute your voice whenever you can….both good and bad.