(A Message to Married Couples-and those who want to be married one day.)
If you are married, think about one thing that your spouse does that drives you insane. What is that one pet peeve that sets you off? Take your time, now . . . .
I’m sure that we can all think of more than one thing, but for now, let’s not tally up too many. Let’s just stick to one. I know for me, something that my husband did that always drove me crazy was how he would write things that he wanted to remember on small pieces of paper and meticulously fold them into little squares and put them in his wallet. Having them there, would press them into flawless little squares that were almost impossible to unfold. He would also write passwords and important things he wanted to remember on tiny post it notes. Once his wallet was full, these notes would be anywhere from his desk drawers to stacked inside manila files with other information. Furthermore (oh, this may be two pet peeves), his handwriting was such chicken scratch that you could barely read it. If you needed some information that may be stored in “his tiny pieces of paper filing system”, you would have to unfold each paper. For instance, owning our own businesses over the years meant that tax season was quite the grueling endeavor. We would have to sort and tally so many receipts. When I would ask him for his receipts, he would hand me a stack of tiny little squares of meticulously folded receipts that had been pressed to perfection by the heat of his left butt cheek onto his wallet in his back pocket. When tax time came, he would hand me a drawer or file full of these sweet little squares of folded receipts. It was enough to have to sort and tally them, let alone having to unfold each square. I would cringe every time. I had asked him, on several occasions to please stop folding these receipts because it took me so long to unfold them, but it was such a habit to him that he would forget. I will give him credit that he would sit and help me unfold each one and sort them. Nevertheless, I made sure he knew how much I hated that!
Since David passed away, I had put off going through all of his things. There are certain items that I had to find to take care of business, however, I hadn’t been able to make myself move or change anything of his. It just seemed like having it the way he had left it made me feel like he was still here or would walk in the door at any time and start fussing at me because I moved something that he knew right where to find. These past few weeks, however, I have started going through things. I will have to say that there has been laughter and plenty of tears as I have found little mementos and remembered the little quirks that made him who he was.
Today, I found David’s old wallet tucked away in a drawer of his desk. As I looked through the wallet, of course there were the tiny pieces of meticulously folded papers. What was once a pet peeve that drove me crazy, now became a treasure that touched my heart in a way that makes me happy and sad at the same time. Those two words, “happy” and “sad” are actually very inadequate in describing my emotions, but they will have to do for now, as my words escape me. Among other things in the wallet were four tiny little squares of paper that I will treasure forever. The fact that he had kept them all these years is just mindboggling to me. I can’t begin to tell you how precious they are, but I will try.
First, was the paper where he wrote the notes for his proposal to me on June 19, 1997. I remember him telling me how he would literally pray and ask the Lord to help him have ideas to make every event special. This proposal was extra special! He took me to a fine restaurant inside the Opryland Hotel for a 5-course dinner. We were seated on the patio of the restaurant and a full moon shined on us. We were inside the Delta area of the hotel. It was beautiful with a river running through it and water falls.
After dinner, David had arranged for a boat ride on the little Delta River that winded through that section of the hotel. When we arrived, there was no one there but us to get on the boat. That seemed odd to me since there was usually a line, but we got on the boat, just the two of us and started our little ride. When the boat reached the water falls, the driver stopped the boat and I knew then that something was about to happen. As David got on one knee, my heart began to beat as he told me how much I meant to him and how he wanted to spend the rest of his life married to me. As he asked me if I would marry him, I answered, “Of course I will!”. He never let me live that down. He said I never said, “yes.” Apparently, “of course I will” is not the same as “yes” (Remember that, all you single ladies). As we rounded the corner to the place where we had entered the boat, a large group of people (who had apparently been whisked away to hide while we got on the boat) were all there cheering for us. These were complete strangers who had been brought into our special moment, by chance. A woman was standing there with a beautiful bouquet of roses and they all were saying, “Did she say, ‘yes’?” It was surreal. Another employee put little candle lanterns on the boat and sent us around again for a victory lap. David could enjoy it this time without being a nervous wreck! It was beautiful and something I love telling people. Today I found that little slip of paper with the name and phone number of the sweet lady, Sheila, who helped him put it all together and all his notes for everything he had planned. Over twenty years later and it was still folded in his wallet.
Second, was a slip of paper where he had written notes on things that he wanted us to do one day to remember places that we had been together and memories that we had shared. These places made our relationship stronger and they were times he didn’t ever want to forget. One memory was when I picked him up at the airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was on a mission trip to the Navajo Indian Reservation with our church and some others. I was a youth pastor at the time and he flew in half way through the trip to help us out. We realized as we were driving out of Albuquerque towards the reservation that the view overlooking the city was spectacular. We had to pull over and watch the sun set.
He had written on this slip of paper that he wanted to go back there and relive that night and remember how in love we were as our relationship was just taking off. He had also written places he wanted us to go, “A mountain by a river or stream, her in my lap and reading a devotional, holding each other.” The last thing on the little slip of paper was, “SPECIAL MOMENTS!” in all capital letters.
Then there was the slip of paper where he had planned the first night of our honeymoon. It was also at Opryland Hotel and he had booked the honeymoon package. All his notes were on this paper from roses and chocolates to “non-alcoholic champagne” (I just loved this man!). What wasn’t on the paper was how the favor of the Lord put us in a room that overlooked the very location where David had proposed to me. That wasn’t planned at all, but God took care of those details.
Finally, last but certainly not least, was a tiny slip of paper with these words written:
Helping Her Making Her Life Easier
Being a Spiritual Leader
Speaking Her Love Language
Responding toward my wife as Christ did for the church
Now, let me tell you a little something about what it’s like to wish you never would’ve let yourself get frustrated about little pet peeves. Let me tell you how finding these papers and reading his little notes made me feel that I had certainly taken this amazing man for granted. I actually had to repent for fussing at him for his little papers throughout our marriage. These little pieces of paper are treasures to me that I can’t begin to place a value on. I never knew that he had tucked these away. I did, however, know that he was a man who wanted to please God and wanted to be the best husband and father that he could be. I know that during the last few months of his life he spent a lot of time apologizing to me and the kids that he hadn’t been the best husband or dad all the time. We loved him so much and he was a wonderful husband and dad, yet, he always wanted to be better. There are things that we find, every day as we go through his things that remind us of just how much he loved us and how important we were to him.
If there is anything that I have learned in losing a spouse, it’s that the things that frustrated you the most about them become the things that you miss the most. Trust me when I say that I would give anything to pick up his dirty socks off the floor or clean his whiskers out of the sink. To have him hand me a pile of folded receipts to unfold would be a welcome spot in my day, just to see his face and hold his hand one more time. We are never promised that. We never know when life is going to take an unexpected turn.
Less than three weeks before David passed away, he was sitting on the side of the bed in a lot of pain, but smiling and telling me how much he loved me and how beautiful he though I was. I remember grabbing him and hugging him while I wept on his shoulder telling him how sorry I was that I had taken him for granted. I felt so bad that I had fussed at him for silly things like socks, folded papers and whiskers. I got the opportunity to tell him how much he meant to me and how much I loved him and did understand how blessed I was to have him for my husband. He told me not to worry because he wasn’t going anywhere. It was going to be alright. I hoped and prayed that would be true.
So now, remember the little pet peeve you though of when you started reading? The thing that drives you crazy about your spouse? As a woman who has always been independent, there were times that I wished he would be a little more of a “go-getter” or that he would be more of a spiritual leader in our home. I wanted him to procrastinate less and push himself more. The fact is, he was more of a spiritual leader than I let him be. He wanted to do more, but I would hold him back by thinking I was right and he was wrong. I let the enemy deceive me into thinking that since I worked and brought home half of the income, I should have as much say in how it was spent. I didn’t trust him to make important decisions. I realize now that if I had just trusted him and given him that encouragement, he would have certainly knocked my socks off. I know that now because I’ve seen his quiet strength and know that he was the strongest man I have ever known. I don’t get a second chance, however, to let him show me what he really had deep inside him. I may have very well been the reason he didn’t push forward. Today, these little folded slips of paper proved, again, that he was a man who sought to please God and to be the best husband he could ever be. I have regrets that I didn’t let him and trust him more.
Why am I sharing such intimate details with you? Because I can’t go back and get a do-over, but you can. I can’t change my behavior or decisions that I made that were disrespectful of his position as the head of our home. I can’t sit back and shut my mouth and let him lead, regardless of whether or not I agreed with his decision. I can’t imagine how he would have blossomed had I done that. I will never know, on this earth, how that would have helped him and how that would have strengthened our marriage. But, if my sharing this with you changes that in your marriage for the better, then so be it.
Ladies, stop thinking that you are more spiritual than your husband or that he can’t make decisions without you. So, what if he makes a bad one? If you have a husband who wants to try, let him! Men, don’t sit back so easily when you have a wife who is independent and strong willed. Lead your home. She really does want you to. Just stop working against each other. Talk it out. If you need to read this article together, do it! Men, if there are things you want to say to your wife, say them. If there are things you want to do with her, do them. Stop planning for a day that may never come. Ladies, stop trying to do everything! If you want to do something, do something to show that man how much you love him and how proud you are of him. Stop pointing out all the things that bug you about one another and start being thankful for this special person you have beside you. Don’t let a day go by that you don’t find something nice to say to them. Encourage one another. Love one another. Put your pet peeves aside and look at all the things that made you fall in love with this person and love everything about them.