Mom and Dad do not love each other anymore.

I wanted to share this blog written by our long-time friend Mike Patz, pastor of First Assembly of God church in Gainesville, FL.  Mike writes about what constitutes real, lasting love and provides words to inspire us all to love our spouses with the same commitment we love our children.

Mom and Dad do not love each other anymore..

Grand Canyon Sunset Proposal

Steve and I have just returned to our hotel room near the Grand Canyon after witnessing a spectacular sunset and a proposal.  The two events provided a fitting ending to a great day spent at one of our nation’s most beautiful and unique national parks.

Tomorrow is our 31st wedding anniversary.  We are celebrating by spending a week in Las Vegas and at the Grand Canyon.  This is the first trip for both of us to the Grand Canyon.  We drove over from Las Vegas this morning and arrived about noon.  We spent the afternoon walking the Rim Trail, soaking in the beauty and diversity of the canyon.

After dinner we returned to the park to watch the sunset over the canyon. We had been told that the sunset is the most spectacular from Hopi Point.  Of course everyone else visiting the Grand Canyon has been told the same information.  Wanting to get a good vantage point, we arrived about an hour before sunset.  Two young people invited us to share their bench.  We chatted a bit and learned they are from Belguim and are visiting the United States for the first time. 

Steve offered to take a picture of the couple with the canyon in the background and the young man reciprocated.  Later we took pictures of each other as the sun peaked out from behind a cloud near the horizon.  Near sunset the girl got my attention and squealed, “Look!” while holding out her right hand.  A diamond sparkled on her ring finger–a diamond that hadn’t been there a few moments earlier.

 

We offered our congratulations and joked that she needed to move the ring to her left hand while she is in America.  She had him move it for her.  Of course, we took more pictures.  It turned out they were staying at the same hotel as us, so we offered them a ride back and spent another hour visiting with them.

To this young couple, we offer not only our heart-felt congratulations, but also our best wishes.  May their love grow through the years as they face many joys and hardships together.  May you weather good times and bad times knowing that they can get through anything as long as they are together.  When life is stressful and feelings are hurt, may they remember the joy of this day as they watched the sunset over the Grand Canyon and dreamed of a future together.   I hope their marriage is as rich and full as ours has been for the last 31 years.

Steve and I will never forget the joy and pleasure of sharing this special moment with new acquaintances.  Have you unexpectedly witnessed a marriage proposal?  Or perhaps you were part of someone’s proposal?  We’d love to hear about your experiences.

Response to “I Just Wish He Would Have an Affair”

Monique Honaman wrote a blog for the Huffington Post recently in response to a comment she has heard numerous times lately:  “I just wish he would have an affair.”  The women who have confided this desire assert that they are married to wonderful men whom they no longer love.  These wives can not “justify” divorcing husbands who treat them well, love them and their children, and provide for their families.  If their husbands would betray them by having affairs, then the woman would be free to leave them without feeling guilty.

Ms. Honaman concluded that she didn’t have an answer for women in this circumstance; however, she postulated two opposing views that she could justify as reasonable responses.  Paraphrasing her words, the views would be (1) you made a vow, so stick with the marriage and (2) end the marriage because life is short to be unhappy.  You may read Ms. Honaman complete blog at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monique-honaman/i-just-wish-he-would-have_b_1297919.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl12%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D141998

While the two views Ms. Honoman expresses are probably the two most common responses to a friend’s or acquaintances’s declaration that she is unhappy in her marriage, neither of them offer the guidance that is needed.  All marriages go through “dry” times.  Love is an emotion that ebbs and flows.  Just because a woman does not feel the glow of being in love, doesn’t mean she cannot regain that feeling.  So what advise should someone give to a friend who expresses discontent with a good marriage?  These are lessons I’ve learned from my own 31-year marriage and observing others, such as my parents who have been married for 57 years.

1) Focus on the attributes that drew you to your husband in the beginning of your relationship.  If you are like most brides, you were head over heels in love with him on the day you walked down the aisle.  Think back on those days and remember how you felt when your love was new.  Your husband is still the same wonderful man you married with the same wonderful qualities.

2) Regularly make time for dates.  Marriage needs to be nurtured.  When you first began dating your future spouse, few things in your life were more important than spending time with him.  In the hecticness of life, time alone with one’s spouse often takes a back seat to work, children, and volunteering.  You can’t nurture your relationship if you aren’t spending quality time with your spouse.

3) Create opportunities for growth and fulfillment such as working on a project with your spouse or taking a class together.  Having a common goal and achieving it together can restore a sense of unity and accomplishment.  In the early days of a marriage, a couple makes plans together, such as starting a family or buying a house.  They work together for their mutual happiness and fulfillment.  As those goals are met, it’s easy for couple to become complacent.  Set new goals and dreams that will carry you into old age.

4) Look beyond your present unhappiness and envision the happy times ahead for the two of you.  If you have children, you can look forward to their graduations and marriages and future grandchildren.  Plan a special trip to commerate a significant anniversary.  Dream about the places you’ll go and the things you will do after retirement.

5) Remember your vows. You pledged to love this man through better or worse, in sickness and in health, til death you do part.  At the end of the ceremony, the minister pronounced you husband and wife.  He did not say “And they lived happily ever after.”  Of course you want to be happy and you deserve to be happy.  But happiness is fleeting.  No one is happy all the time, and no one is unhappy all the time.  If you stay true to your vows and work at loving your husband, it is very likely that happiness will return and that you will be even happier than you were in the past.

If you are unhappy in your marriage, I would urge to carefully consider the cost of divorce.  Not only is divorce the biggest financial mistake you can make, it is one that many people regret. It is likely that you are married to the love of your life–you just need to make an effort to rekindle the love that lead you to marry him.

Celebrating 30 years in 15 days–Day 1: Vancouver

Steve and I are in the midst of a 15-day trip to Canada and Alaska in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary.  So far Steve has taken 782 pictures.  I promise I won’t post them all, but I will share a few of my favorites. 

We began our trip last Thursday by flying to Vancouver, Canada, by way of Chicago.  I’ve heard horrors stories about O’Hare; however, our experience was wonderful.  We arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule and more than our hour before boarding began for our flight to Vancouver.  We had plenty of time for the short walk to the gate and to get some breakfast.  We arrived in Vancouver shortly before noon local time.  We had a bit more than 24 hours to explore Vancouver before boarding the cruise ship that would take us to Alaska.

Vancouver skyline from our hotel room window

Vancouver is a beautiful city, with a mix of hundred-year old buildings and new, modern skyscrapers.  The city is very clean, and they take their recycling seriously.  Steve got fussed at for not properly deciphering the instructions on a series of recycling bins at the McDonald’s where we ate breakfast Friday.

After checking into the hotel, we ate lunch at an authentic Irish pub a block from our hotel, and then bought a pass for a “hop on, hop off” bus tour around the city.  Because we bought our ticket late in the afternoon, we were allowed to use it the following day.  We stayed on the bus for both of its routes Thursday, and on Friday we took the bus to Stanley Park.

River Walk at Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

We hopped off at the first stop in Stanley Park intending to spend 30 minutes exploring the area before hopping back on and riding to the next stop.  Things do not go as planned.  We walked about half a mile downhill to visit Beaver Lake, then we decided that we did not want to walk back up the hill to catch the bus. Rather we decided to walk to the next stop.  Thirty minutes later with the stop nowhere in sight, we realized that our reasoning had been faulty.  We  eventually made it to the stop, having walked about 3 miles through the park. 

3 nurse trees growing from one stump, Stanley Park

Stanley Park is beautiful, and I highly recommend spending time there if you have an opportunity to visit Vancouver.  We were particularly intrigued by the nurse trees which root themselves in dead tree stumps.

Our hotel was located next to Canada Place where the 2010 Winter Olympics medals were handed out and about 2 blocks from the Olympic cauldron.  We visited the site and made a quick trip to the Canadian Mountie store before boarding the ship.

 

Olympic cauldron
 
 

Canadian Mountie store

We were off for our Alaskan adventure! 

 

There’s Nothing Shallow About Having Standards

I just read Kat Richter’s blog “Are Standards Shallow?”  (After I Quit My Day Job) She was responding to being accused of “getting shallow” for refusing to date any man who is not taller than she is when she’s wearing heels.  Kat will probably miss out on dating some pretty terrific guys because of her preference for tall men.  That’s her loss, and it’s her choice.

Having standards is not shallow.  Physical attributes are not standards, however. They are merely preferences.  Any woman seeking a date or a husband needs to have standards.  When I was dating I had absolute standards—my line in the sand that I would not cross.  In my thirty-plus years of ministering to teen-age girls I have encouraged them to decide what their standards are before they begin dating.

For me the absolute most important standard was to date only godly Christian men.  Paul admonishes us in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” It was important that my future husband share my Christian beliefs and values.  I was not willing to risk falling in love with the wrong man, so I avoided dating non-believers.  I met my future husband in high school. I knew he was nice, but I didn’t know if he was a Christian until I saw him at my church one Sunday.  Of course, church attendance doesn’t equate to salvation, but seeing him at church gave me an opening to ask him about his beliefs.  My interest increased greatly as I realized how similar his beliefs were to my own.

Family values were next in importance.  I love children, and I wanted a man who also loves children.  As the second of nine children, my youngest siblings are considerably younger than me.  I was able to witness how a potential future husband would treat and respond to children simply by taking him home to meet my family.  From his first visit, Steve was comfortable with my younger siblings.  He spent many a Saturday afternoon taking them fishing in the summer and building snowmen in the winter. During our senior year of college, Steve and I took my four youngest siblings to a movie. They kids ranged from 10 to 18 years younger than us.  The next day one of his professors asked him about his children.  I guess he thought we got a very early start on our family.

Another standard was that a future husband prioritize family over income.  I can still vividly remember sitting in traffic on the Falmouth Bridge and Steve telling me that he wanted his future wife to stay home and raise their children. Those words were music to my ears.  Although I was in college and planned to continue my education afterward, I still desired greatly to be home with my children when they were young.  Steve added that being home when they were in high school was even more important. 

We were fortunate to be able to make that happen.  Steve worked hard, and I got to stay home. When the boys went to school, I went with them.  For the next thirteen years, they were either enrolled in a Christian school where I taught or I was home schooling them.  I cried on the twins’ last day of school (as seniors they finished up a few weeks earlier than the rest of the students) wondering how I would be able to come to school without them the next day.  I am so thankful for the time I had with my boys.

Beyond those three standards, everything else was icing on the cake. It didn’t hurt that Steve is tall—a full 9 inches taller than me—and very handsome.  But, I would have loved him no matter what he looked like. 

I maintained my standards and married the love of my life.  And there’s nothing shallow about that.

A Prayer for the Twenty-first Century Proverbs 31 Woman

Heavenly Father, I thank you for preserving me as a virtuous woman for my husband.  I ask that your hand would be with me today, helping me to live virtuously and honorably before you.  I thank you for the trust and respect my husband has in me.  May I honor and bless him through my words and actions each day.

As I go through my day, help me to do good to my husband.  Bring to my mind each day ways to lighten his load and make our home a true haven of rest for him.   Help me to remember the small “touches” that let him feel cherished and appreciated.

Please be with me as I work to make my home more comfortable.   Give me creative and economical ideas and help me to incorporate these ideas into my home.  Help me to stretch our financial resources to meet the needs of my family; let me not bring stress to my family by living beyond our means.

I ask for guidance as I plan meals and shop for food for my family.  Let me make meals that are nutritious, economical, and delicious.  Help me to view cooking as a creative challenge and a way to show love to my family, and not as one of many mundane chores.  This also applies to laundry, dishes, and house cleaning—let me view them not as labor, but as labors of love.

Father, help me to rise early and spend some time with you and my husband before we start our busy days.  Please help me to rest well each night and get up feeling refreshed so that I can be a pleasant companion in the morning.  It is important for my husband and I to share some time and eat breakfast together before we leave the refuge of our home for our work places.

As I work, inside or outside of my home, help me to work enthusiastically and energetically.  My family and my boss deserve my best each day.  Help me to make wise decisions that will benefit my employer at work and my family at home.

I know, Father, that I need to take care of myself each day—making time for daily devotions, exercise, and a little pampering—so that I may be strengthened and renewed to care for my family.  Help me to make these activities priorities and to incorporate them into my daily schedule.

Help me, Lord, to be aware of the needs of each member of my family and to work to meet those needs—whether it is a need of new clothing, help with school work, individual attention from Mom, or discipline and instruction.

Help me to use my time wisely each day, while still allowing time for fun.  Help me to limit time spent in activities that are not productive or that bring no real pleasure, such as watching television shows I’m not really interested in or playing computer games.   Help me to redeem this time to talk, read, or play games with my family. 

Father, your Word tells us that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but good deeds done in your name will last through eternity.  Let me be particularly in tune to your voice encouraging me to write a letter, make a phone call, or say a kind word.  Help me to be generous to the poor and needy, to those who are lonely and need a friend, to a stranger who needs a smile and a kind word, and to friends who need encouragement. 

May I look to you each day, Lord, for wisdom to guide me through the day, and for the strength to be the woman you want me to be, so that my husband and children will feel loved and blessed.  Thank you, Father.

Christmas Eve Anniversary

My parents celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on Friday.  They were married on Christmas Eve and celebrated Christmas with their families the next morning before leaving for their honeymoon. 

Getting married on Christmas Eve makes it easy to remember the date, but it makes a romantic celebration nearly impossible.  The last time I remember my parents going out to dinner on their anniversary is the year I was eleven.  They were home early and declared they would never attempt it again.  Few restaurants are open on Christmas Eve, and even fewer have employees who are happy about having to work that night.

My parents had nine children born over a 21-year period.  Consequently, their Christmas Eve activities for the first thirty years or so typically involved wrapping Christmas presents, assembling bikes and other toys, and baking pies for Christmas dinner.  Their anniversary was almost an afterthought in all the chaos of Christmas, but they always took a few moments to exchange gifts and express their love for each other.

Christmas Eves are a bit calmer for them these days. More restaurants are open, but they still don’t go out on their anniversary.  They prefer instead to have a quiet celebration surrounded by their children and grandchildren.  They celebrated their anniversary this year with four of their children and three of their grandchildren present.  My sister and I brought the food, so Mom was spared the chore of cooking dinner on their anniversary.

I am grateful that my parents’ marriage has withstood the many challenges life has brought their way, including the death of one child and my father’s 26-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps.  I am thankful that my parents are both active and healthy and can look forward to many more anniversaries.  But most of all, I am eternally grateful that many years ago my parent’s committed their lives to Jesus Christ and made Him the center of their marriage.