By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
There must be something in the way the four Maynard kids were raised.
All four of the Enid natives have been married 50 years or more. Linda, John, Margie and Ron Maynard were all raised in a house on South Adams in Enid and graduated from Enid High School.
“Most of us married right out of high school — Linda and Danny were married on Valentine’s Day,” said Ron, the youngest Maynard, now living in Minnesota.
Less than 5 percent of marriages make it 50 years, Ron said. He believes it was the time in which they were raised, the way they were raised by their parents, and their religious views that made the difference.
“We were (different) back in the day — in the 1960s, divorce was not considered. We considered marriage a commitment. Every marriage has difficulties,” Ron said.
Ron said they were not a religious family when they were brought up. Their father was in the Air Force and they weren’t “church-going folks.” His mother divorced and remarried when he was 11⁄2 years old.
To Ron, who today is a traveling evangelist for the Church of Christ, marriage is a religious commitment.
All three of his siblings are more religious than their parents, he said. The siblings attend Emmanuel Baptist Church, Willow Road Christian Church and World Wide Church of God, and he thinks that is a factor in them being married for so long.
“It’s faith-based. We all believe in God, we all pray, it’s part of our lifestyle,” he said.
However, some of his nieces and nephews are divorced. Ron said about 50 percent of the current generation stays married.
Ron said the atmosphere in Enid had a lot to do with the way he and his brother and sisters grew up. “In the ’60s, some people were wild, some were ornery and some were just plain mean, and I was a big kid and I ran around with a lot of those people,” he said. “I was big and could be served at any bar in town.”
“The social thing is part of (marriage), but the majority is the religious conviction, basic belief in marriage in God’s idea and staying faithful to God,” Ron said.
Oklahoma had the highest overall divorce rate in the United States in 2009, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of U.S. Census Bureau figures. The divorce rate per 1,000 men and women 15 years and older was 12.8 percent for men and 14.1 percent for women. According to the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative, 32 percent of all Oklahomans ever married have been divorced.
Barbara Wagner, Ron’s sister, who lives in Breckinridge, said her faith also was the main reason she and John stayed together. But they also stayed together because they were friends.
“Just be friends and understanding and try to realize each others shortcomings,” Wagner said.
Barbara and John, a former Enid firefighter, will be married 53 years on Wednesday. They were married in 1960, when people looked at marriage differently than now.
“People looked at marriage differently — they thought of it as a long-term commitment, not something you’re doing just because,” she said. “And we really loved each other and wanted to be together.”
One of the top things in married life is to have God present, she said. When she and John were first married, something was missing, Wagner said. They were not attending church, and she was expecting a child. They joined Willow Road Christian Church in 1961 and her daughter was baptized there, and Wagner was baptized in 1962.
She is proud that all of her family are active in their churches.
“You raise your kids and show them how God can affect their life,” she said. “We’ve all had problems in our marriages, but if you let God (be) in control, he helps us solve our problems.”
When children are born, families make sacrifices for their family life. She said they knew they wanted to do things with their kids to make a full life for them, to go places with them while they were young. They made time because of their children and had to sacrifice along the way.
“You have to realize staying married is the best thing for your life and for each other. You realize you were meant to be together and make the best of the situation,” Wagner said.