The only “d” word in John Durling’s vocabulary is devotion. He’s devoted to God and to his wife of 44 years, in that order. That’s the stability source.
John met Jerry on Aug. 21, 1966 at a rehearsal dinner and asked her out on a series of dates, including the “only real date,” which was when he took her to see Doctor Zhivago.
He asked Jerry (who he fondly calls Chick) for her hand in marriage on bended knee after his graduation from Officer’s basic training at Shepard AFB on March 3, 1967. They wed on March 4. Chick was 27 at the time and John, 24. Both had waited to complete the marital triangle with God on top and the husband and wife at the base.
After a brief honeymoon, John and Chick went to Columbus AFB, MS, where John served his two-year duty during the Vietnam War. In January of 1969 they returned to Fort Scott where he started his veterinary clinic and began raising a family, which consists of a son and daughter, Jen and John Jr.
Forty-four years and six grandchildren later, John says the secret to his long and fruitful marriage is recognizing that it’s a covenant with God, not a contract. “Even during the hard times, the “d” word never crossed my lips because it wasn’t an option,” explains John. He doesn’t believe in situational ethics, where laws or principles can be broken if that is how people feel their love is best served.
John’s daughter Jen describes her parents as a team with both giving 100% rather 50/50. “They aren’t afraid to tell each other the hard things, says Jen. “But over the years they’ve developed a more tender honesty versus the brutal honesty.”
Jen says John and Chick have a realistic approach to marriage but the fact that they put God first is the superglue that will always outlast the superficial, self-serving relationships that we see fall apart today.