Surviving Marriage

Me and Dean at Fort Mackinac, Michigan, June 2018

Two are better than one. – Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV

It’s been three weeks since Dean retired. After decades of being home alone all day, suddenly I have him around 24/7.

I’m loving every minute of it. We’re settling into a nice routine. The biggest adjustment has been wearing my hearing aids all day instead of just in the evenings ­– a huge change for me. I like my world quiet.

But seeing the exasperated look on his face when I asked “what?” every time he said something made me realize if I want to have a long, healthy marriage in these retirement years, I’d better up my game.

DH is an easy man to get along with. He’s patient, kind, sometimes forgetful, sometimes too practical (“red neck” might be a better term), and almost always puts me first. The closest we ever come to fighting is when I try to pry out of him where he wants to eat out.

His answer is always, “Wherever (or whatever) you want. If you’re happy, I’m happy.”

Okay, I can settle for that.

On his wedding day, my oldest son texted me these words: “I finally have what I saw growing up in you and Dad.”

I never realized we were being an example to our kids. I was just trying to survive.

But we’ve more than survived marriage. We’ve thrived.

Me and Dean, December 22, 1973

In 45 years, I’ve learned a few things that have contributed to the difference between “survive” and “thrive.”

First, I’ve learned the importance of communication. Of listening to what he says and what he doesn’t say. Of listening with not just my four ears, but my heart. I’ve learned the wisdom of Proverbs 18:13 and James 1:19, but it’s still hard not to jump in with my two cents or finish his sentences.

I’ve learned to talk things over with him and include him in the decision-making, especially with finances. I value his input and don’t feel as though I’m carrying the burden all by myself.

It took me a long time, but I’ve learned to control my anger. I used to be a rage monster. But God lovingly worked on and in me.

I’ve learned the importance of forgiveness, both giving it and asking for it. Offenses can be intentional, unintentional, and perceived. I’ve learned to get over it. Dwelling on things, stewing, simmering eventually leads to the pot of bitterness boiling over. Once again, prayer is the key.

Which brings me to probably the most important lesson of all: the value of prayer. Daily, consistent, persistent, spontaneous prayer. I pray for Dean every day. I pray for our relationship, circumstances, situations, and issues we’re dealing with. I pray for myself – that I would be the wife he needs, the helper suitable for him.

I like the way the Amplified version expands on the word “helper” in Genesis 2:18. A helper is one who balances the other, a counterpart who is suitable for and completes the other person, who brings out his good qualities.

January 2016

And finally, I’ve learned what love is all about. It’s keeping the romance alive. It’s not taking him for granted. It’s noticing and showing appreciation for the little things. It’s taking time for and with each other, doing something fun together.

And it’s wearing my hearing aids when he’s around . . . funny, but now I rather like my world a bit noisier. 

Lord, help me to be the person my spouse needs. Help me truly to be the other half of a whole You have ordained. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ecclesiastes 4:9–12; Genesis 2:18–24.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

 

When God Says “No”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. ­–Proverbs 3:5–6 NLT

When we lived in town and our oldest was still a baby, we rented a second-floor apartment but yearned for a house of our own. When the house across the street – one I’d admired since we’d moved in two years earlier – came up for sale, we applied for a mortgage. And were turned down.

No surprise. We didn’t have the finances and weren’t in any position to buy a house.

But I was angry. Angry at God. I wanted that house in the worst way. So what if it was practically on the street and had a postage-stamp backyard?

I threw a royal hissy fit.

In time, God worked with me, softening my spirit so I could hear His voice. Psalm 37 spoke to me, especially verses 3 and 4: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (RSV)

I took this as God’s promise to me that Dean and I would someday have a house of our own, with plenty of land around it. In times of doubt I’d read the psalm over again, clinging to verses 9, 11, and 34, believing against circumstances that we would one day “possess the land.”

I’d always dreamed of a house in the country, but I’d wanted that house in town so badly, I was willing to forego my dream home.

As I look back – that was over 40 years ago – I see how events played out, orchestrated by Almighty God, who had something better in mind when He said “no” to the house in town. We have our dream home in the country, with 13 acres surrounding it.

When King David planned to build a temple for God in Jerusalem, God said “no”: “You shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight” (1 Chronicles 22:8 NKJV).

Talk about a slap in the face! The wars David fought were so Israel, God’s people, would have peace. The blood he shed was Israel’s enemies’ blood. And this was the thanks he got? David wouldn’t get to build the Temple, but his son Solomon would.

If that were me, I’d have a hissy fit, whining and complaining and reminding God of all the good things I’d done for Him, and why I deserved a “yes.”

But David accepted God’s “no” and got everything ready for Solomon. He drew up the building plans, gathered materials, developed a schedule for the priests and singers once the temple was completed. No wonder God called David a “man after My own heart.”

Then there was the Apostle Paul, the great force behind the explosion of the first century church. He was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and jailed, all for Christ. Three times he asked God to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” which added suffered on to suffering. Three times God said “no.”

Like David, Paul accepted God’s answer, realizing that God’s “no” meant something better: His grace.

Prayer is not a vending machine. You don’t plunk in your request and wait for your selection to drop down from heaven.

But rest assured: God hears and He will answer: yes, not now, or “I have something better in mind.”

When God says “no,” how do you react? Do you pout, get angry, doubt God, lose your faith? Go after what you want anyway, and make yourself miserable?

Or accept God’s answer and find peace, knowing that His answer will always be the best one for you.

Thank You, all-knowing and all-wise God, for always working in ways that are best for me. Amen.

Read and meditate on 2 Samuel 7:1–14 and 2 Corinthians 12:1–10

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.