“Are you two on your honeymoon?” Tom and I had gone away for a couple of days, and were asked this question one evening. At that time, we had been married about 17 years. That question is still often asked… at times. Not because we look young, but because we love young.
This week I asked Tom… how? How have we made it? There is no possible way to have known what love and marriage were all about at 18 and 19; we were committed, but to what? How did we do this?
“I liked you,” he smiled.
Is that it? I liked him, too…
We’ve been told we’re just lucky… Tom says it has nothing to do with luck. Maybe it’s a whole lot of liking, a whole lot of learning, and more accepting this person as a gift to me than one can imagine. And it insures a whole lot of love and security for the end of life…
Imagine you have just been given the most precious, the most beautiful, the most expensive gift, more special than anything you could hope for. What do you do when you are given a gift such as this? You receive it with massive joy and gladness.
And you open it everyday.
Recently we were walking into a restaurant and two ladies… maybe in their 40’s… came up behind us. “Oh, I like this,” one giggled. She was talking about the way we were walking. My favorite way when we walk slowly is with my right thumb in Tom’s right back pocket. We stopped and talked with them… Tom has accepted the fact I will always talk with someone… and explained we have been walking ‘this way’ for over 50 years.
“What is your secret?” was the next question, and one repeatedly asked of us these years. I love to share how I have never gotten over the fact that Tom Suiter chose me… chose me out of the hundreds and millions of females in the world. Can you believe? To this day, I smile thinking about this. I, too, cannot fathom that I was chosen by the Creator God, before the foundation of the world, to be His; He actually picked me out for Himself…. (Ephesians 1:4 Amplified) These two facts keep me anchored and secure.
A journal entry this May 19: I am awed that You trusted me with Tom; You trusted me with this gift. And You taught us how to love, how to receive each other, how to accept one another. Thank you, my Father, for the confidence You have in me for this beautiful trust.
A long time ago, I learned I could not change anyone else… but me.; I could not change Tom. The book Lord, Change Me by Evelyn Christenson, 1988, reveals that truth. For some reason even before reading this, I had accepted Tom Suiter as good and ‘perfect’ with all his imperfections. If I could have changed one thing… one tiny idiosyncrasy of his, he would not have been the person I fell in love with.
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” Sam Keen
I love what Lori posted on the blog last week… finishing well… “I just go with ‘God made him for me.’ Everything else will work out.” Isn’t that absolutely priceless! Does that mean they don’t struggle, cry or have trouble? I doubt it; it means accepting him as he is… just works.
“Let each man of you, (without exception) love his wife as his very own self, and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband— that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly.” Ephesians 5:33 Amplified
Sounds impossible, right? I remember the first time I read this verse in the Amplified—oh, my, what amplification for the simple command of “a wife must respect her husband.” By taking one of those action verbs every month—it would take a whole year to learn how to love—. But a man is to love his wife as his very own self—now that needs to be amplified!
It is fun to know that our special song was released the year we began dating… I Love You Because recorded by Al Martino in 1963. https://youtu.be/bgHIuSh4uCk I can cry each time I hear the words. “I love you for a hundred thousand reasons, but most of all, I love you because you’re you.” If you have never heard this song, you will enjoy listening… and smiling. I make no changes, demand none… only a full acceptance of who Tom is.
There is another book I would suggest for those of you who want a great marriage. You know when investigators must learn to recognize counterfeit bills, they study the real ones, not the counterfeit. So it is with marriage. Study the secrets of those who are successful. The Triumphant Marriage by Neil Clark Warren is a wonderful book revealing the secrets of 100 such married couples. I love this quote: “Magnificent marriages involve two people who dream magnificently.” p18 and “Show me a couple with a big dream for their individual and corporate lives, one that involves a deep sensitivity to both partners’ needs, and I’ll show you a couple on their way to a triumphant marriage.” p12.
You would laugh to know how we are still dreaming… what to build, where to go, what to plant (we planted a 2 feet sapling this year… oh, how it has grown), let’s go back to the mission field. But most importantly, we plan and work at how our marriage can be ‘more’. It is choosing the absolute best for the other.
A quote of Ruth Graham: “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
I hesitate to think where we would be today without constant forgiveness. Tom taught me to forgive. Early on I could pout for three days and spend a night or two on the couch—not often, but it happened. Many times, he asked my forgiveness when I should first have admitted my wrongdoing.
Have I wanted to wrap this gift up and send it back? Rarely, but when it does, forgiveness comes quickly now as we both desire to restore the broken connection .
A friend shared recently, “The first apology I received from my husband was after almost 30 years of marriage, I didn’t know what to do with that; I was stunned. And his apology came at the insistence of a counselor we were seeing.” This dear couple is learning how to live in forgiveness, but look how long it has taken.
Some people have a hard time admitting an imperfection or realizing a mistake may have been made. Did you know that a sincere apology is more than saying I am sorry? It is another step in strengthening a relationship. An apology given and received by two people in love is a beautiful openness into acceptance. Forgiveness restores the feeling of completeness in the marriage relationship.
As a young wife, I was too sensitive—well, I guess I am still too sensitive. Tom learned how to handle that part of me, while not putting me down. “You hurt my feelings”, I have been able to say through these years. He never threw my feelings down, but asked how he had done so. Sometimes there would be a battle of my misconception of the situation or how I had misunderstood his words. An apology would always come. You have been there…
Tom is a great forgetter… a positive gift in marriage. I am more like an elephant, remembering too much. I have a brother who never forgets a word… ever said. He reminded his ex-wife of this a few years after their divorce, and she said, “That’s why we’re no longer married!” They remain friends, but it is impossible to be married –happily—without an admitting, a forgetting and an acceptance of each other’s mistakes.
Excerpt from the book, The Triumphant Marriage… “A physician from Georgia: We have as close to a perfect marriage as anyone could have. Not because we are great communicators, or because sex is so great, or because of anything I have done. It is just one of those strange and rare miracles that happens— by the grace of God.”
While I appreciate these words and the glory given to God, I personally think there is much more here. I am convinced they studied each other, accepted each other’s warts, learned forgiveness… spending every day grateful for the gift they were given.
“I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” Psalm 104:33,34.
“I got gaps; you got gaps; we fill each other’s gaps,” says Rocky Balboa in the movie Rocky. Marriage is today, this one day, on the journey to the whole of life— giving and receiving, as we learn to fill the gaps.
It is so appropriate that this chapter on ‘accepting your gift’ is posted on Tom’s birthday… I could write forever…my Polly Anna spirit has “expected something wonderful around the next corner” for 57 years. Yes, disappointments come, tears fall, but most days, I still peek around the corner…expecting.
A heart at peace gives life to the body. Proverbs 14:30
… accepting God’s gift to you…
This series of blogs: …finishing well…together…
Learning to Love
Accepting your gift
Seeking oneness— next week.
Talking and Touching— last week of June