I have always been gullible…
… as the second oldest of nine children, I imagined myself as Cinderella when piles of laundry covered the floor on Monday, and I would iron for days. I spent many hours dreaming of kissing a frog… he would turn into a prince and take me away on his horse. I half-way expected to find a little green frog hiding in a pile of dirty jeans. (The Frog Prince, a German fairy tale published in Grimm’s Fairy Tales in 1812)
And one day… it happened.
How did I know? It was in church, and I leaned over to my best friend and said, “I am going to marry that guy.” I was 16; he was 17.
I am not sure the moment Tom Suiter became a handsome prince. Perhaps the process of becoming has been over these 57 years. In a college speech class in the 80s, I was to make a seven minute argument or persuasion. We had been married 19 years, so I decided to persuade everyone marriage was a good idea. Points were deducted as I went over the time limit four minutes, but I received a standing ovation. An avowed ‘single for lifer’ stood and shouted with hands raised, “I want to be married… to Tom!”
Tom grinned and reminded me this morning that the ‘frog’ was a prince in disguise. You know the story, the prince had been turned into a frog for punishment, until the unlikely event that a princess would kiss him and release the spell. Perhaps ‘my kiss’… my commitment to trust this frog prince, to love him with unconditional love has freed him to become more fully the man he was designed to be. His life verse expresses his princehood: “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day, I declare Your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” Psalm 71: 17,18.
“And they lived happily ever after…”
For sure, that is a fairly tale folly. Marriage is the hardest work you will ever do… this is the one truth Tom and I warn couples we have counseled over the years. Changes come, mistakes are made, heart break happens, tears flow, but it is the doing life together in the pain that makes the days possible. As Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham says, marriage, a good marriage, is a union of two good forgivers.
My parents divorced when I was 17; Tom’s divorced when he was 30. Where did we learn how to be married? We had had no mentors, no loving counsel, no preparation to make a good marriage a reality.
But we had a dream, a commitment to succeed. I have no idea where that came from, other than I am a hopeless romantic, simply too naïve, a believer in fairy tales… and we both trusted a God who declares… “Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:4-6
“In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything and two minus one equals nothing.” Mignon McLaughlin
In our early years, I read every magazine article I found on marriage as few books were available. Reader’s Digest included the topic of marriage in most monthly editions. Ladies’ Home Journal had a most interesting section, Can this Marriage be Saved? These were secular, and I was determined to understand my Prince.
“The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It is a choice you make on your wedding day, and over and over again and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband.” Barbara DeAngelis
Today, my prince continues to treat me as his princess…
Tom always reads my blog drafts and gives advice. He is not comfortable being the topic for this one… I would be the topic if he were writing this, he said. So I am ending with his words, his gift he presented me on our 50th anniversary.
… kissing the prince…these 57 years.