Getting older is depressing..I enjoy summer and then it ends. I then get excited for the next season only to be completely sick of snow and cold with months of it remaining. Then without even blinking it’s summer again. The process never ends but eventually my part in it will. It’s crazy to think about really. On Wednesday one of the main time markers in my journey arrived. Danielle and I celebrated 9 years of marriage. Sitting at Earl’s,eating some amazing wings with no kids, just me and my best friend, I found myself thinking about how our life moves without our permission. I thought about our life together and where we have been, what we have done and what has brought us to this point. I should preface before I go any further with some relationship history not only of Danielle and I, but of myself and my relationship retardation.
I have never been friends with anyone as long as I have been with Danielle. Well to clarify, I’ve never been this close, both in relationship and proximity with someone for as long as I have been with Danielle. I can think of maybe 2 or 3 people that I’ve known longer and still keep in touch with but we rarely see each other and have resorted to random phone calls and very infrequent visits. To me, those kinds of relationships are easy. So to go back, I’ve never been in a relationship with anyone like, or as long as the one I am in with my beautiful wife. It could be because I moved anytime I got bored. It could be because I’ve just never really been tied by existing relationships. (You see the older I get the more I’m realizing that there is very little without true relationships) Anyway I say all of this to say that Danielle has really taught me a lot (a good relationship will do this) and the 12 years we have been together has easily been….Well here, let’s use a saying we’ve all heard to describe what it has been like. I remember when I was in High School a friend of mine’s dad told us to find a job where it didn’t feel like work. Sure there is some work involved but you do it because you love what you’re doing, and when you love what you’re doing it doesn’t feel like work. Well, being married to Danielle doesn’t feel like work.
I said to a friend on the golf course the other day that if I equated my relationship time with Danielle to school I’d be a practicing Doctor. I think it’s fair to say 9 years together (married, 12 years total) has given me some insights to relationship’s and maybe even some thoughts on how they can work, how they can fail and what makes a marriage not feel like work. Well at least I can tell you about us and how we work.
My anniversary was on Wednesday. Tuesday at work my calendar popped up on my phone. It was an appointment that told me to buy flowers and have them delivered to the house the following day. It also reminded me to get a card. The first part of the reminder was easy. I called and ordered some flowers. Check. I had a lunch meeting that day so my plan was to drive to a Shoppers Drugmart on the way back to the office and pick up the card. The day ended, I drove home, had supper, played with the kids and started winding down. Then I remembered, I need to get a card. Obviously I didn’t want to look like I had forgotten so I started forming a plan to get out of the house. I called across the room to Danielle and said, “Do you want a slurpee”. I have to confess I was almost sure she wouldn’t say no, and she didn’t. So out I went to “get a slurpee”. The only problem with this plan was that a 7/11 is right near our house. A store that sells cards is no where close, or at least I couldn’t think of one so I wasn’t sure how to make this slurpee run appear to be just that, a slurpee run. I drove down a main drive and found a store I’ve never been in. I ran in and quickly asked the first guy in a uniform where the cards were. I ran to the cards only to find the worst, and I mean absolute worst card selection I have ever seen. (a side note, I like nice looking cards with a little saying on the cover and a plain Happy Anniversary inside…Let me write how I feel..) So I grabbed the closest thing to an acceptable card I could find, ran to the self check out and quickly drove to 7/11 to get our slurpees.
The next morning (our Anniversary) when everyone was sleeping I filled out the card. I swear I never reflect on anything like I do when I’m forced to fill out a card. as I was thinking about our life together I was struck by how amazing my wife is. If you know me you’d agree that my wife would need to be something extraordinary. She definitely is. As I reflected on her I recognized something about her that I see everyday but hadn’t really put into words. Danielle is the most gracious and patient person I have ever met. As I thought about those traits I realized that throughout our marriage I have always tried to make her not need those traits with me. That’s when I got to thinking about relationships and why Danielle and I work so amazingly well together.
Relationships in any form need the same basic foundations. A selfless desire to fulfill the desires and needs of the other person involved. This goes for your faith, church, kids, family and spouse. In this selflessness you see other traits that are really only possible because of the root characteristic (selflessness) that enables you to be gracious and patient with the other. I think the reason Danielle and I work is because we both have the same root. We are selfless with each other. Sure there are things in which we as individual’s love to do and do do, but we are given that freedom from one another because we know at the root there is someone that would sacrifice everything for the other. I have to tell my wife to go out and have fun, and you know what? I really want her to have fun when she’s out. That’s the beauty of it. Because we are both so focused on making sure the other doesn’t get stuck with the kids, or has to do this or that, we desire the other over ourselves. We’d actually rather the other go out and enjoy themselves. I’d rather her have fun and go out than me most of the time..
I’m not sitting here blowing my own horn. Any relationship is work, but I think that if I’ve learnt anything in these 9 years it’s this. Make your spouse not need to love you and they’ll do the same. The goal is wanting to love. Whenever I see a self centered person I always feel for the other one in their lives. The marriages that I’ve seen fall apart all have one thing in common. Someone didn’t work at making their spouse not need to love them enough.
I suspect that not everyone that read’s this will be able to apply it directly to a marriage relationship but I do know this. The same principles that keep a marriage together keep any relationship together. My dad always says you can tell who loves the most by who gives in the most. My goal is to always “give in”. When was the last time you “gave in”? Do you give in to your church? Do you give in to your parents? Do you give in to your kids (I don’t mean letting them rule the roost)?
Take a look at your commitments and work harder than you are now at making sure the people involved with you feel that you are committed to their success. Change your thought process and see the amazing fruit that a loving, gracious and patient relationship can give. Start with this. Work for them, not for you and try hard at not making your commitments need to be gracious and patient with you.