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.

 

To My Husband on His Retirement

Dean, beaming, on his last day at work after his co-workers presented him with this cake

When the time of his service was over, he returned home. – Luke 1:23 NIRV

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 ESV

Finally, the day has come. Your retirement. We’ve dreamed, planned, worked, and prayed. For years.

I have to admit: I’m a little scared. Because, after over forty years, there won’t be a regular paycheck every two weeks. Time to test the faith we profess: that God will supply everything we need (Philippians 4:19), so we don’t need to worry about tomorrow or the tomorrow after that or all the tomorrows God has in our future here on earth (Matthew 6:25–33).

My heart and spirit know this, but I’m having a little trouble convincing my head, which has always been the practical part of me. The part that wants to see before I believe.

But how much more do I have to witness?

God has always been there for us. Remember how He provided the heating oil we needed the first year in the “house”? Or a repairman for the recycled furnace?

I used quotation marks around house because it wasn’t really a house yet. It was a concrete block cubicle, an unfinished basement into which we moved when our first child was four and our middle child was 11 months old. The third one, a surprise, came along four years later when we’d just moved the bedrooms upstairs.

Dean takes a break from building the deck.

Our house-in-progress took over 30 years to complete. But complete it you did – while working 11-, 12-, sometimes 14-hour days. And finding the time to take us camping and being the husband and father we needed. Not only did you teach our children by example the value of hard work, you showed us all patience and steadfast love in action.

I’m so looking forward to the time together. At last!

It took me several weeks to get out of a funk after spending every day with you during the 10-day vacation we took exploring Michigan this past summer. I missed you terribly when we came home and you went back to work.

The high point of my day has always been the moment you walk in the door after work.

And now I get to be with you all day, every day. Except the days you go hunting or fishing. Or when I push you out the door so I can get some writing done.

My brother cautioned me to “be gentle, understanding, and patient” as you transition to retired life. To which I answered: “All of which I am not.”

And now, after four decades of faithful, loyal service to your employers, you deserve a long, healthy, happy retirement doing the things you didn’t have time to do all these years – hunting, fishing, going for long walks in the woods with your camera, and heading out with the camper (and me) to explore this beautiful country of ours.

I love you. Always and forever.

Bless this wonderful man, Lord, exceedingly abundantly above all he can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He deserves it. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 92:12–14

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.