A long time ago – or maybe it just feels like a long time ago – a couple who were going through some tough times asked Melissa and me to give them suggestions and advice.
We were in a panic! I love Melissa desperately, and she, somehow, loves me, but how to put any of this into words? Here was someone else asking us for advice and we didn’t know where to start.
About an hour before we met, we were inspired with some clear headed-ness and started writing…
You have to be united – for God’s sake that’s what the vows were for! – you were each other’s – and left everyone else for the sake of your spouse – and God from all eternity saw this – and you each have strengths and weaknesses and they fit together like a puzzle – a beautiful picture. So you have to be united…
Except for the Confessional and at most a single close intimate friend (of the same sex) NO ONE can know that you ever disagree. Stop arguing, second guessing, disagreeing, and tearing each other down in public.
To your kids, other adults, your friends and people you work with – the two of you have to be ONE. You must, as far as the world is concerned have the deepest admiration, respect for your spouse – regardless of the problems you’re facing with each other.
Because guess what? As soon as you have enough love and respect to stop destroying your spouse to other people you’re already hundred feet down the road.
And in the new found quiet, you can really hear your marriage, and while you listen you can see how much of it is hard, and how much is just your selfishness. Are you really giving all of yourself to the marriage? Not 50% – ALL OF YOU?
Whomever LOVES the most wants to give the most, and once you stop looking at how much you’re getting and start focusing on how much you haven’t given yet, and pray for the Grace to truly put your whole heart and strength into your marriage, then it WILL change. Not tomorrow or next week or maybe not for a year. But God will hear you!
To him I wrote: Adore your wife in front of the children – kiss her, be attracted to her, woo her, pursue her like you could lose her, because you COULD! You think that once we’re married we get to check that off our list and forget why she said yes in the first place? Until one of you dies – she should be your main focus – her joy – her peace and happiness – and never never stop.
And To her: Be proud and in AWE and brag about him to your children and to your friends. He stood before you and the witnesses and GOD HIMSELF and promised to be JUDGED by God for your salvation and all of the children. He walks towards the flames of this world in courage like only a true HERO would ever consider – and he gets up, and goes out into the world every single day FOR YOU and will continue until he DIES. He doesn’t get a trophy or a prize – he does it for you and his children.
And to both: WORK on your marriage. Pray for each other and with each other, and attend Mass together, and go to the Communion Rail together. Read, read, read – listen to tapes, read blogs, do whatever it takes – remember that there’s a six month delay from the time you stop working on your marriage until the fighting starts to grow – and it’s another six months once you start working on your marriage again that the hard times will get better. So DON’T STOP – your marriage is THAT important. Other than your own soul – the soul of your spouse is your FIRST PRIORITY! Accentuate the attractive qualities of your spouse and try to ignore their faults – and then – look at your own faults and try to lessen the suffering you are causing your spouse by all your own imperfections.
Be patient. Be at peace, but be patient, and the changes will come and your marriage will become more and more sweet
The rubber tree plant in the driveway was the give-away
When we first moved to Spokane back in 1992, I went to work for a software development company and we settled in for what we thought would be a long time. But back then, when I was, believe it or not, a lot more arrogant and impatient than I am now, I didn’t stay very long at a job. I was good at what I did, but lacked compassion, communication skills, and patience. I’d work for a job for a couple of years, then start to get bored, and the boredom showed through in my attitude.
In July of 1995 I got fired. Not laid off, not let go. Fired. And when I asked about severance or two weeks’ notice, they kind of shook their heads like they didn’t understand what I was saying.
So here I was, coming home in the middle of the day with my one box of personal stuff and a rubber tree plant which I had in my office, and we’d gotten paid the week before and of course, already spent the money on rent and groceries and whatever else, and I was sick (emotionally) – what do I do now?
So… Valentine’s Day is here, once again… The whole country is prodding you to demonstrate love to your wife, and everything is pink and red and hearts…
And let’s just skip the part where you say “well, she said ‘don’t worry about me, I don’t care about Valentine’s Day, and I don’t want you to do anything special’” – because she DOES care and it DOES matter. This is a time when her lips and her heart are out of synch – don’t listen to her words this time!
It’s YOUR heart that she wants. She wants to know that you LOVE her and DESIRE her still, regardless of whether you’ve been married a year or forty.
So DON’T just buy a card, a dozen roses and take her to dinner – that’s not your HEART! Spend some time considering your wife, and some more time thinking about personal gifts you can give her that are really from your own heart.