Yesterday at Walmart I was drawn to the glitter and glitz of a Valentine card display. Fantasizing about which one I might have chosen for Nate, I picked up several that said, “For my husband.” Although he didn’t particularly relate to the preprinted messages in greeting cards, he loved the words I wrote at the end and saved every one. Some he took to the office and taped to his door.
As I smiled remembering his unabashed devotion, my attention was drawn to a couple at the other end of the card rack. They had ten years on me and were nothing special to look at with his high-water pants and her 1970’s “Stretch ‘n Sew” slacks. What made me notice them, however, was their behavior toward each other. For a couple in their seventies, probably married 50 years, it was exceptional.
While I pretended to look at the cards, the two of them gradually made their way down the row, taking samples out of the rack, reading them, putting them back. She’d say, “Oh honey, look at this one. Would that be good for Sara? It’s funny.”
He’d read it and chuckle. “You’re right. That’s funny! Let’s look some more.”
As they moved closer to me, I could hear they were hunting for grandchildren-Valentines, searching for the perfect message in each one. Most impressive, though, was the good time they were having with each other.
“Aw, look at this one. It’s so sweet, just like Anna.” The wife would agree, yet they’d keep hunting, savoring their task.
“How ‘bout this, dear? Eight cards for $4! Should we get that instead?” he’d say.
“Maybe we should buy one expensive card for each family and include the kids in those. What do you think?”
“They’d think we took the easy way out,” and he’d laugh.
These two captivated me, and I watched until my periphery vision got sore. God meant marriage to be just like them, give-and-take interest in each other’s opinion. Whether choosing a greeting card or buying a home, their M.O. would work well.
I once heard Howard Dayton, head of a financial ministry, tell the story of how listening to his wife’s point if view on an investment saved him tens of thousands of dollars. He urged husbands to seek their spouse’s opinions on money matters, even if their women had no investment savvy.
James Dobson, head of a ministry to families, agreed, counseling wives to consider their husband’s ideas whether or not it made sense at the time, because God uses husbands to funnel wisdom to wives.
Despite my not having a husband anymore, watching this older couple was delightful. They modeled exactly what the experts described. But from my vantage point, having lost my partner, I wondered how they’ll handle the grief that one day will come to one or the other when death arrives. Shared shopping trips will end, along with every other togetherness-event.
But that’s the cost of a good marriage… and it’s worth every emotional cent.
“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)