Listening fortifies 43-year marriage

Day by Day:
Listening fortifies 43-year marriage

By LIZ THOMPSON
April 19, 2020
This Week News

Most of us can look back on our lives and wonder what would be different today if we had made a different choice in the past.

My most vivid thoughts on this idea float back to April 1, 1977.

A friend from church, Rosemary, talked me into going to a church-sponsored single-parents group. It took some convincing, but I finally gave in.

Within 45 minutes, I had met the man I would marry.

It was the last thing I had in mind. I was focused on raising my young daughter and surviving on a meager salary.

But one year and 21 days later, Bob and I became husband and wife.

We have been asked by young people how we stayed married “this long.” It seems we met yesterday, not 43 years ago.

Love and respect, friendship and good listening skills certainly help make the days memorable.

A verse from James 1:19 is good advice for relationships, especially marriage:

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

Most of us have heard the phrase, “There’s a reason you have two ears and only one mouth.”

According to an article on Dayspring, “If you have (heard this phrase), consciously or not, the deliverer of that message was speaking the truth of James 1:19.”

Bob and I had some unique situations to deal with. We all have challenges, but we were a blended family before it was common.

He was blind in one eye, and I had moderate hearing loss.

We often joked that it was a good thing because he could see only half of me and I could hear only half of what he said. We joked so we wouldn’t cry or feel sorry for ourselves.

It turned out Bob had a lot to say, so I listened as well as I could for many years. I had no difficulty talking and Bob was a great listener. I was near deafness in 2002.

“But love listens because love first seeks to understand. At its core, that’s all listening really is: caring enough to try to understand before responding.”

Those sentiments from the same Dayspring article had a different meaning as I lost my physical ability to understand words. I could read body language and American Sign Language.

I usually was exhausted at the end of the day trying to understand. Many times, I responded incorrectly or remained silent, yet Bob and my family were kind and patient with me.

When the miracle of a cochlear implant gave me back the ability to hear words clearly, I loved listening and truly understanding.

I love it when Bob says, “I was thinking …” because we can share our thoughts so easily now.

The Dayspring article was about the art of listening well. I think that is the basis for any good relationship, and certainly marriage. It goes on to say:

“For those who are quick to listen, have patience with the talkers.

“For the talkers: breathe. Let others speak until they’re finished … then wait to say it. Intentionally let someone else speak first.

“And as for the slow-to-anger part of these verses in James … that’s much easier to do when we are first quick to listen and subsequently slow to speak.”

It takes practice on both sides of any communication. Did we do it perfectly all these years?

Of course not, but we came out stronger on the other side of troubles. We added a large dose of forgiveness throughout the years for ourselves as well as for each other.

We are all challenged during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. I’m thankful to have Bob by my side as we live our wedding vows every day: “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish.”

In many ways, we helped each other become better versions of ourselves.

I’m glad I listened all those years ago.

Enjoy each new day. Time passes all too quickly.

Best marriages are built on respect, care, friendship

Day by Day
Best marriages are built on respect, care, friendship

By Liz Thompson

Apr 21, 2019
This Week News

He walked into a classroom at Ohio State University and saw the woman who – just two weeks later – would become his wife.

I don’t know his name. We met at an optometrist’s office, and he started talking tenderly about his wife of 61 years, who had died last April.

“What do you think makes a good marriage?” I asked.

Without much hesitation, he said, “Companionship. Caring for each other.”

“The for-better-or-for-worse part of the wedding vows, you mean?” I asked.

He scowled and said, “I don’t remember much ‘worse’ part.”

I rephrased: “You were there for each other, no matter what was happening?”

“Yes,” he said with a smile.

We agreed friendship is important for a long-lasting marital relationship.

This month, my husband and I celebrate 41 years of marriage. I’m thankful Bob and I are good friends and have been from the start.

We didn’t marry two weeks after meeting, but one year later.

My soon-to-be father-in-law told us before we married, “Remember you are getting married because you love each other.” Plain and simple.

He likely was thinking of 1 Corinthians 13, also known as the Bible’s “love chapter”:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

These words often are spoken at weddings. I sang them at a cousin’s wedding many years ago.

My parents, Jim and Mary Day of Westerville, were married from 1945 until my father died in 2011. My mother says marriage has a lot to do with forgiveness.

“You have to really listen to each other,” she said. “You have to talk it out and get over it – really care for the other person.”

Carol McClellan of Grove City, married 57 years, agrees with my mother and the unnamed gentleman in the first paragraph.

“Caring for each other and thinking more about the other person’s well-being” is crucial, she said.

Bob and Ann Gray of Westerville recently downsized after being in the same house for more than 40 years. What to do with all the things they acquired was a true dilemma.

Bob and I moved 15 times in about the same timeframe. When you have to pack, move, unpack and find a place for all the things at the new residence, the boxes become fewer.

We let go of a lot of things that truly didn’t matter and kept the things that did – a good analogy for marriage.

Bob and Ann met in Texas in 1966 at an A&W Root Beer drive-in. He was stationed at Webb Air Force base, and after they dated for a year and a half, he was shipped to Vietnam on April 1, 1968.

After corresponding for nine or 10 months, Bob decided that Ann was the one he wanted to marry. He wrote:

“January 1969 I sent a letter of proposal and awaited her reply. The answer soon came, it was positive and things were set in motion for a wedding as soon as I got back. I arrived in San Francisco on April 1st, 1969 and I flew directly to Midland (Texas) for the April 3 event.”

Throughout their now-50 years of marriage, their relationship matured, and so did their faith. They learned their marriage is a triangle “with the Lord at the apex.”

“We take our wedding vows seriously, Bob said.

He said that involves respect, resolving differences, making wise decisions for the family as a whole and relying on God – especially when there are bumps in the road.

Marriage shouldn’t be a race to see how long you can stay together. To me, it’s how you live day by day, learning and growing together and leaning on one another.

I thank God every day that Bob and I have each other as we travel through each new day.

 

‘Till The Last Petal Falls…

Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose

GUEST POST

Far More Precious
Elizabeth Rose

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. Proverbs 31:10

All my life, I was told that God was the God of Love. I was told if I loved my neighbor, in return I would be rewarded with love. So when in high school, when I was lured into what would become a four-year abusive relationship, I found myself at a complete loss.

“This could not be what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to turn the other cheek,” I thought. I was spiraling into a cycle of being hit and then forgiving my abuser, hoping that my ‘love’ was enough to save him from his sinfulness. I could have gotten myself killed for it.

Many of my Christian peers at the time congratulated me for having the humility and patience required to remain with my attacker. To them, my suffering was just another cross that I needed to take up in order to bring more people to salvation. Surely, through by persistent example, my abusive boyfriend would see the light and come to Jesus. He would eventually have no choice but to see how I had stood beside him and never wavered in supporting him, wouldn’t he?

It would take a nasty break-up, a restraining order and several years before I would realize just how wrong I was. So today, I want to share some things that I have learned, in the hopes that it may be used to save others the same, long road of injustice:

• Christian love does not require women to remain in abusive relationships, no matter what the circumstance.
• A Christian woman knows that, just as all other children of God have an intrinsic worth, so does she. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 As God has commanded His children to protect life, and the dignity of human life, so does He command us to respect the dignity of our own persons.
• Christian love does not mean giving in to our beloved’s commands, nor does it mean retaining possession of our beloved. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do, especially in abusive relationships, is to keep ourselves from enabling attackers. Even Jesus rebuked Peter out of love (“But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”Mark 8:33) when Peter insisted on his ‘humanly concerns.’ In that circumstance, Jesus compared Peter to Satan in order to show Peter the errors of his ways. In a way that seemed harsh, Jesus helped Peter become more of a Man of God.
• A Christian woman knows that she has been charged to be submissive to her husband (“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Colossians 3:18). At the same time, she also knows that God has charged her husband to love his wife as himself, and to behave himself as if he was Christ (“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” 33 “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-23, 33). Women do not have a responsibility to submit themselves to the good of men who do not attempt to make themselves Men of God; and men of God command respect from their women through love and care, and not physical or mental violence.
• A Christian man knows that an ‘excellent’ wife, though hard to find, is more precious than jewels (Proverbs 31:10 see above). An excellent woman is one who is allowed to follow her vocation as she is called to by God, one who is allowed to flourish in her family, in her Church, and in her larger community. A Christian man, therefore, should take care to cultivate his wife into such an ‘excellent’ woman through upholding her dignity.

God wishes for none of His children to suffer at the hands of another of His children. He died for the dignity and salvation of His creation and it is up to us to make sure that we are protecting those among us who are most vulnerable. This includes those in our community who are trapped in abusive relationships, and kept there in the name of being a ‘good Christian’, or a ‘good wife’, or a ‘good girlfriend.’

A good woman knows her worth and she protects it. A good man knows the worth of a woman and he protects that. Abuse is never acceptable. And by the grace of God, one day the world will see that. But it takes someone standing up to it. That someone can be you.

Elizabeth Rose, a twenty-something college student and the author of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, a modern re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. Available now from Mockingbird Lane Press, 10% of all author royalties will be donated to local battered women shelters.