What Is Love Made Of?

And now I will show you the most excellent way. – 1 Corinthians 12:31b (NIV)

Hubby and I don’t do Valentine’s Day. For some reason, it’s never been an important event on our life calendar.

Oh, I tried to make it an event a few times. One year I cooked up a special dinner: roast beef heart and pink mashed potatoes, a meal we endured only once. A greeting card never seems to say what I want it to say, even when I make the card myself.

Perhaps it’s that what I feel for my husband of forty-five years goes beyond words.

And I think the forty-five years has a lot to do with it.

In the early years, I looked for what I could get in the relationship: companionship, love, support, a listening ear, sympathy. What I got was a man who worked 10- to 12-hour days five days a week, provided firewood, fixed things (an unending job because something always needs fixed), and built me a house. He’s been a good father to our three children—a softy, I always called him. But his softness balanced my harshness.

I’ve never seen him angry—upset a few times, but never angry. Even when I tried to pick a fight, he never took the bait. And he’s always supported me in my dreams. I dedicated my second book to him with these words: “To the man who fixes dinner, washes the dishes and clothes, dusts and vacuums, shops for groceries and puts them away, does the ‘kid runs’—the myriad of daily tasks considered ‘women’s work’—so that I could have the time to write. To the man who told me that he felt God’s will for his life was to free up my time so I could follow God’s call for my life.”

Whether I decided to go to work outside the home or quit the job I had, he’s always supported my decisions.

Although he used to “suggest” ways my cooking could be improved, he always ate everything I’ve made, even when I couldn’t. Proving he told the truth when we were dating when he said, “I was in the service. I can eat anything.”

Now that the nest is empty, we’ve set aside Friday night as our date night. Homemade pizza and a movie. But he rarely makes it through the movie. I hear his soft snores around nine. I don’t even bother waking him up to go to bed. It never works and he doesn’t even remember. I just cover him with a blanket, turn off the TV, turn down the lights and softly kiss him on the forehead. He’ll get to bed eventually.

I used to feel sorry for myself when he neglected to say “I love you” every day. But—don’t tell him this—I’ve come to realize I don’t need to hear it. I see it in everything he does. I hear it shouted from the stack of firewood by the wood stove, from the packages of venison and vegetables and berries in the freezer, from the 1997 Explorer that he fixed and fixed and fixed until we could afford to replace it. The walls of the house he built are his arms around me day and night.

“Saturday’s Valentine’s Day,” I said one night a few years ago as we sat at the supper table.

“What do you want to do?” he asked.

I thought about for a moment. “Nothing, really. I’m such a homebody anymore.”

He smiled and nodded.

“We never did do Valentine’s Day, did we?” I said. “I wonder why.”

We ate in silence for a few minutes. Then it hit me.

“Because with you,” I said, warmth coursing through me, “I have Valentine’s Day every day.”

Dear God, You gave me the perfect life companion. Not a perfect man, but the man perfect for me. Thank you. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Corinthians 13

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 by Michele T. Huey. All rights reserved.

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.