It’s the Little Things

I want a good marriage. I want a relationship that is full of love, respect and intimacy. I don’t want to be sharing a house with a stranger. I don’t want to be living life with a glorified room mate. I don’t want to live with emptiness.
I know I’m blessed. I don’t have a loveless marriage. I don’t share a house with a stranger.  I live life with a deeply intimate friend.  Someone who knows my quirks,  who understands my needs. Someone who listens to me.  Someone who knows what I enjoy and what I really can’t stand.
Yesterday,  he brought me a salad. A delicious looking Greek salad, with the special creamy feta dressing I just love.  Leafy greens, black olives, cherry tomatoes. Things that no one else in my family enjoys – just me. He could have bought a salad everyone would like, and he did. But he knew I would love that Greek Salad more, so he bought both. It’s the little things like that, I think, that make a marriage strong.
When we first met and started dating, I was incredibly busy. It was my last year of university and the work was monumental. I had so much to do. I remember making lists of assignments and obligations that would consume my time. I remember looking at the lists and thinking, “this will never get done.” During that time, I squeezed in little dates with him. Breakfast in the morning when he was coming off his night shift and before I headed to a full day at school. A quick coffee date in the afternoon in between classes. Spending time with him is how he understood how much I cared about him. Do you know when I knew I was in love with him? It was because of the mail.

That might sound silly to you. But in all my busyness, I had a stack of mail – some important, some just letters (back in the day when people still hand wrote letters to each other) – and it was sitting on my desk. I had so much to do, I kept meaning to take it with me, but kept forgetting. For about a week, it sat on my desk and didn’t move. One afternoon, I came home and the mail was gone. I asked my room mate about it, but she didn’t know where it had gone to. I started to panic a little, there was an important document in one of that stack that really needed to be mailed. How could I have lost it? About that time, he knocked on the door to drop me off to a night class. I told him I would be ready in a minute, that I needed to find a missing letter. After a few minutes, he asked if it had been ready to be mailed. When I confirmed his suspicions, he casually mentioned he’d mailed my stack of mail that morning. Wait…what? He’d picked me up that morning to take me for coffee and had noticed my mail pile was still on my desk, and figured he’d just take that one thing off my growing to do list for me. It was a simple act on his part. He doesn’t even think about it to this day, really. But sometimes, when I look at him, I think of that mail. Such a simple thing to do, he’d said. But to me it was as monumental as the list of assignments and obligations I had mounting during that season.

We’ve been through a lot of seasons together, and we have weathered many storms. Some small storms. Some really, really big storms.  Not all storms have to surface because of marital unrest – some storm come just because of life. In our seasons, we’ve become closer. We’ve become more aware of each other and what the other needs. We understand each other.
Once upon a time, I used to think it was offensive when people called a long lasting marriage like “a comfortable old shoe.” But now, I get it. Old shoes are favourite shoes. You can buy the prettiest, snazziest pair of shoes you’ve ever seen only to discover they make your feet hurt so much you only wear them once. But old, comfortable shoes you wear every time you need to go out. You slip your feet into something that hasn’t failed you. Something trustworthy and reliable. You wear those shoes until they die, and then afterwards, you mourn that loss when you need to buy a new pair that just isn’t the same.
Yes, I have a great husband. The best, in fact. Before we met, there was another man who was interested in me. In fact, he wanted to marry me. But something just didn’t seem right about. Looking back on life, and the different seasons and trials that have come since that day – I know why something didn’t seem right to me. Knowing what I know now, and all that has transpired, he wouldn’t have been able to handle all the hardship and trials that my husband and I have faced in our lives together. That man, while he had some great qualities, would not have been able to handle the seasons of hardship with such grace and love as my husband has. Just one of the reasons I love him. Just one of the reasons why I know that he was perfectly planned for me by my Saviour, who knows all.
But there is this thing about marriage that is just so heartbreaking. It’s that no one seems to want to weather the storms together any more. With our ever changing society, with all the acceptance and the shifting sands of time, marriage just isn’t important any more. I remember standing in the bridal shop looking at dresses with a friend of mine who was getting married and overhearing a bride to be talking about her soon to be husband. She turned to her friend and said if it didn’t work out, there was always divorce – and she had another guy lined up and waiting! Definitely not the way to start a marriage. So it’s not really surprising that people struggle so much.
Whenever I hear about a friend or even an acquaintance whose marriage has fallen apart, it leaves me shaken. It’s like something rocks my happy little bubble and I suddenly think, if it could happen to them then it can happen to me. Especially when I see fellow Christians have marriages that fall apart. It doesn’t really take much to let things slide.
People sometimes ask me why we’re still happy together, after a decade of married life. I am really not an expert on marriage, because I still don’t feel like I have been married for very long. But what I can say is that busyness is the worst enemy in a marriage. When you roll into bed at night and climb out of bed in the morning and realize you haven’t really seen them all day. Busyness is a marriage killer. It is so very important to set aside time to spend together. Even if you can’t leave the house because of small children, it is important to do things together. Connection and communication are the key.
A faithful, love filled marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes time and commitment. It takes constant interaction. Really, it’s just the little things. Husbands, listening to their wives talk about their day when they just want to come home and have some down time in front of the TV. Wives, understanding that their husband just needs a few minutes to transition between work and home. Husbands, appreciating the time and effort it takes their wives to keep a home running. Wives, understanding the fact that just because their husband doesn’t notice all the details doesn’t mean he doesn’t care.
It’s the little things in a marriage that are most important. The little things that are the glue that hold it all together. Like mailing letters. Like buying flowers every once in awhile. Little smiles shared in a brief moment. It’s the little things that make a love strong. Little things that can make a marriage last in a world of ending marriages.

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