The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married life. – Oscar Wilde
Mary Beth recently returned from a five-day trip. She was attending to personal business while I stayed home to hold down the fort. The regular day-to-day activities continued, but with a different beat.
My wife and I have developed a reliable rhythm over the past 25 years. She likes tackling the home improvement list and I like tackling the housecleaning; she likes cooking without recipes and I like cooking comfort food; she likes building things and I like maintaining them.
Mary Beth is my liberator and I am her protector.
Sometimes when what we have is removed; we can see it with better clarity. When she was gone, I realized, once again, how much I love her and how beautiful our life is together.
Our approach to marriage has changed over the years. We don’t expect it to be perfect; we only expect it to last. We look for what the other needs and then try to give that. We are learning what we really need is for the other to be happy. Through years of trial and error, what we are learning most is how to create a marriage that can be expressed in five simple, heartfelt and beautiful words.
It’s my pleasure to share a husband’s perspective, my perspective, and this simple guide to a beautiful marriage.
Respect your wife. Give her the freedom to grow and build a life that doesn’t include you. Allow her to see the wonderful gifts inside of her and then celebrate as your wife shares these with the world. Respect the love she gives you. Soak it in. Let it cover you with its sweetness. Understand this is the best gift she can give anyone. Honor her gift with your love and fidelity – always.
Give without expecting anything in return. Give because your heart says to give. Give her the best you have to offer. When she asks what’s on your mind, give her an honest answer. When she needs comfort, give her more than she expects. When she needs to lift her head to see her mistakes, give her a tender nudge and then get out of the way. Give her a safe place to cry and to be weak. Give her the chance to be whoever she wants to be.
Share everything. From the last piece of cake to monitoring your children’s homework, take an active, equal role in the marriage. Resentment begins with a soft whisper before growing into a more demonstrative outburst. To share a life, the things in it must be shared too.
From the odd quarks to her radiance, and everything in between, enjoy your wife. Take her in. Watch as she sleeps, as she brushes her hair, as she sits next to you thumbing through a magazine. Watch her elegance, her tenderness and her expressions of joy, suspense, anger and fear. Bottle these moments in your mind and take them out whenever you want to enjoy a dose of her amazing beauty.
Managing finances, raising children, building a career, relocating, enduring a crisis, all contribute to the challenges every marriage faces. There’s only one way for marriages to thrive despite these circumstances: Persistence. Be persistent during the times when it feels like the light is being consumed by the dark; remain faithful and believe the good will eventually trump the bad; never give up when you feel like everything you are building is about to fall. And what’s the source for this hope? Love. Surrender to love. Fall back into it and take your wife with you.
I excitedly heard the door open as Mary Beth pulled her car into the garage. She was home. When she walked into the house my heart skipped a beat before returning to its more reliable rhythm.
We hugged and then exchanged quick updates about dinner plans, her missing luggage mishap and where I put the mail. My wife and I were reconnecting our lives and it felt simply beautiful.