I’d like to share a short story with you.
A few months ago I was shopping in the aisle where dairy products are displayed when an elderly gentleman approached and asked if I could help him locate the whipping cream. He held a list given him by his wife and was unsuccessfully trying to find this item. Together we found the cream that needed to be whipped at home but he wasn’t sure that was correct. He thought she probably wanted the kind in the spray can however, he picked up what he saw and placed it in his cart.
A store employee came around the corner so I asked if what the gentleman wanted might be in the back. As any good worker would, he offered to check. The elderly man continued down the aisle and I picked up the few things I needed. As I neared the end of the row the store employee came by and handed the needed spray can of whipping cream to me. I thanked him and looked around for the man who had requested it. Seeing him several feet away I walked over and handed it to him with a smile and spoke a quote used often in our family; “Happy Wife. Happy Life”.
He looked at me and said, “You sure have that right. I’ve been married 54 years and don’t know why I ever got married in the first place.” I’m pretty sure my heart stopped beating for a second. I was stunned. I was so sad. I was perfectly still and quiet right there in the middle of the store. It just shouldn’t be that after 54 years of marriage all you have to say to a stranger is “I don’t know why I ever got married.” It must be sad to regret 54 years of living. It ought not to be so.
Marriage is work. Marriage is teamwork. Even Cinderella and Prince Charming had to overcome obstacles! After meeting THE one, having butterflies in your stomach, spending endless hours on the phone, enjoying dates that you wanted to never end, finally a wedding and the joy of moving in together, there’s still the daily process of learning to live with and wholly love another human being. It is a never ending process because human beings are always growing, changing, having new experiences and learning new things. No matter how much you love the person you marry, in a matter of years they will be a slightly different person. You must love them continually, purposely. Embrace and celebrate the growth the years will bring. Rejoice that at 50 you are not the same as you were at 20. Allow them freedom to be all that God has intended.
My family has a wonderful legacy in that my parents will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary in a few months. My siblings and I have benefited from their tenacity in making marriage work and family life enjoyable. I know it’s not common anymore and I realize most people reading this will either have parents who are divorced or be divorced themselves; sometimes it’s unavoidable. That doesn’t mean you can’t begin to create a wonderful legacy of love for your family. Love is a wonderfully, unexplainable emotion that can be oh so fulfilling and make you a better person. Do all you can to not only find the right person but to be the right person for your spouse.
My dad has had cancer for several years. It’s a type that will never really go into remission but has been kept at bay with treatments and we are grateful. My mom is a breast cancer survivor and was recently diagnosed with peritoneal cancer. These two have been through lots of ups and downs; recently more downs that ups! But they are facing them together. Their love is more than a feeling or even more than a habit. It’s commitment as well. It’s beautiful.
Nine years ago today my Handsome left earth and our dreams of growing old together and facing the challenges and changes of life as a team will never be a reality. As is typical, when reminiscing it’s usually about the good times and the rough ones fade into the background and I’m glad it’s like that. Not because pretending the bad times weren’t real makes things better but because it shows the good times were more abundant, more normal, more us. I would love to know how things would be for us now; empty nesters, retirement looming closer, more grandkids. What vacations would we take? Would we still live in the same house? What new hobbies would we have? What would make us laugh? I would love the opportunity to begin and end every day with a kiss and be excited when his phone number showed up on my cell. To hear his car pull in the garage and know the best part of the day was about to begin would be a treasure. I hope if you are married, happily or struggling, you find pleasure in things like that because, trust me, they are indicators of the health of your relationship. Don’t live 54 years in regret.