Friday, February 12, 2010

Love Endures After All These Years


This is a photograph of me and my husband, dashing through the traditional shower of rice from well-wishers as we head off on our honeymoon in 1980. What I knew back then about love could fit easily on the head of a pin. Oh, I thought I knew a lot, but what can you really know about love when you've only just begun?

In a few months, we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We've certainly weathered our share of storms, but I'm not complaining. There is something revealing about braving a storm together. When you lean on each other, you discover not only your own strength, but the strength of your mate, as well. And you discover something else. Storms strip away the counterfeits and the facades, leaving only your real self, vulnerable and exposed. The pretenses are over. Maybe that is how it is supposed to be. Maybe love cannot truly be found, until everything else is lost.

We’re still a work in progress, but growing old together brings rich rewards.

The following essay first appeared in The Dallas Morning News, August 9, 2003. I share it here as part of Jo's Flashback Friday party. With Valentine's Day upon us, it's mostly about love this week. Hop on over and check it out.

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It is a warm August night—a rather ordinary evening, except for one thing. It is my wedding anniversary, and being married to the same man for almost a quarter-century makes it an extraordinary evening, wouldn’t you say?

Perhaps we should have splurged and bought impressive gifts for each other, but we don’t need a thing. Dinner out will work just fine.

Taking a final look in the mirror, I hear my husband rattling keys.

“I’m in the car,” he calls.

And in the car, he is. Only it isn’t our car he is in, but our daughter’s flashy yellow mustang.

“So,” I say, crawling in, “are we feeling a bit sporty tonight?”

“Yeah, why not?” he says, backing down the drive-way. Despite his gray hair, he looks right at home behind the wheel.

At the restaurant, we are seated at a candle-lit table, handed menus and left to contemplate our appetites. This is one of our favorite places to eat. I already know what I want, so instead of studying the menu, I peer over the top of it and study the handsome man across the table.

In our years together, I have seen every expression he is capable of making, including the one he is wearing now—it is the what-to-order look.

“Can’t decide?” I ask, almost certain he will end up with his usual prime rib.

“I thought about a steak,” he says, “but prime rib sounds good, too.”

Soon, the prime rib wins out, our order is taken and we are left alone. We make small talk, then lapse into silence.

Once upon a time, silence would have made us both nervous, but marriage has a way of steadying nerves. Silence is OK. Tonight, it gives me time to reflect.

All of my life I have heard people say that marriages have seasons. And it is true. We have lived through barren seasons and seasons of plenty. Seasons when we couldn’t stand to be apart, and seasons when we wondered how we would stay together.

But at this point in our marriage, we seem more settled than ever. We have nothing left to prove to each other. We are comfortable together.

Does that mean we never argue?

No. But we know that a quarrel is not the end of the world, nor the end of a marriage.

Does that mean we have lost the passion of our youth?

No. We still light each other’s fire quite well. We know the right buttons and how to push them.

Does that mean we have evolved into perfect mates?

No. But even though I am not a perfect wife, nor he a perfect husband, we are two people who have accepted each other—warts and all. Two people who, despite their differences, plan to be together “’til death do us part.”

Does that mean our marriage is divorce-proof?

No. But if two people agree (and that is the significant word here—agree) that nothing will separate them, then how can they be separated, except by death? It is only when one party breaks that agreement, that divorce occurs.

All marriages have testing points. Storms, if you will. Times when the vow, “’til death do us part,” is pushed to the limit. It may be the loss of a child, the death of a parent, the illness of a spouse, a mate’s infidelity, an attraction to another person, or maybe financial collapse.

Storms can occur at any time during a marriage, but I believe that it is during the first storm when a marriage’s ultimate strength is tested. And while I have no scientific data to stand on, I also believe that if a marriage endures that initial storm, it has a much better chance of enduring thereafter.

Suddenly, my husband reaches for my hand. As I look into his eyes, I am filled with love for the man I married so many years ago, and I am deeply grateful that we chose to weather our many storms together, because tonight his eyes reflect nothing but love in return.


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10 comments:

  1. Dayle, I love your story...and I love, love that picture!!!

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  2. Praise God for the seasons you have weathered.

    Thanks for sharing a tale of enduring love.

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  3. Dayle- I feel like I should say congratulations. It's quite a feat (esp these days) to build and maintain a strong marriage, strong enough to weather the storms of 25+ years.
    Great piece. So glad you shared it with us.

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  4. "Once upon a time, silence would have made us both nervous, but marriage has a way of steadying nerves."

    I love this! What a great story and I think it should be memorized by EVERYONE about to take their vows!

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  5. Most precious story ~ as are all of your stories. Must come from a sweet talent given to you and a heart sensitive to the Lords leading. I think I'll copy it and send it to my two married daughters :)

    A joy visiting with you today!

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  6. Dale, I LOVED this!!!!! You are so right. My hubby & married VERY young. He 20 & silly me just 16 & still in high school. Has it been perfect? No! Would I settle for someone else? Never. We have walked this path together & though we both have silver in our hair... we still have so many dreams & plans ahead of us. Thanks for sharing this & for coming by to visit & see my crown. Charlene

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  7. This was SO beautiful, Dayle. If I could write like you, I could write this in my season of marriage as well.

    Storms--there have been some good ones over here. So now when I look at my hubby, I not only think of all I love about him--but I think about our love...that by God's grace alone, has endured.

    We have accepted each other, warts and all...YES. That seems to be the key. We get that the other isn't perfect. Most importantly, we each get that we ourselves aren't perfect. We each have "stuff" to put up with.

    Thanks for sharing this, Dayle,

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  8. What a great story! Love your photo too.

    -FringeGirl

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Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle