Just listen to this story:
This week, in the Boston Globe, I read the story of an elderly couple named Sol and Rita Rogers. They’ve been married 61 years. They’ve raised a family and lived a long and happy life together. A few years ago, that began to change. Rita developed Alzheimer’s. And she is slipping deeper and deeper into dementia.
Several weeks ago, she was taken to a health care center, where she now has to live. The first few days, she screamed and talked incoherently. She could barely form words with her mouth. Most tragically, she could no longer recognize her husband. She had no idea who he was. This was agony for him. He would go home from visiting her, trembling with grief, overwhelmed by sadness.
One morning, he went into her room, and saw her lying there and had an idea – an idea, he said, that could only have come from God. Sol climbed into his wife’s tiny twin bed, and put his arms around her. And he just held her. He hugged her. He whispered to her. That’s all. But something happened. As he put it, “I got into bed with her and loved her and it lifted my depression.” And Rita was transformed, too.
She responded to his touch. And she began to talk. He now does it every day.
Rita’s doctor says that her “old memory” recalls being in his arms, remembers how he used to hold her, and part of her is able to come back. Now Sol spends a couple of hours of every day, just holding Rita, telling her he loves her, and she tells him she loves him. Just as they have for 61 years.
Isn't that just like The Notebook? I loved that movie, and the book, even though I know the sexual morals weren't right. It was still a beautiful love story. I really pray that I have decades ahead with my husband. I just love him to pieces, and I'd be lost without him.
But as much as we glorify this kind of romantic love, let's remember that it's not a fluke. I often use a great saying when I speak at marriage conferences:
A good marriage begins when we marry the one we love. It endures when we love the one we marry.
Isn't that profound? How many couples expect to coast in their lives on those amazing feelings they have when they walk down the aisle, only to find that they disappear? I think that if we could just make an effort to love, with action, even when the feelings aren't there, we might find that the feelings follow. And pretty soon the person becomes indispensible. Such an intricate part of our lives we can't imagine it without them.
Here's another quotation to leave you with, this time from Anne Tyler, from her book A Patchwork Planet:
I don't know where you are in your marriage today, but I hope that gives you hope. Stick it out for the long run; you'll be amazed what will happen.
I knew couples who’d been married almost forever -- forty, fifty, sixty years. Seventy-two, in one case. They’d be tending each other’s illnesses, filling in each other’s faulty memories, dealing with the money troubles or the daughter’s suicide, or the grandson’s drug addiction. And I was beginning to suspect that it made no difference whether they’d married the right person. Finally, you’re just with who you’re with. You’ve signed on with her, put in a half century with her, grown to know her as well as you know yourself or even better, and she’s become the right person. Or the only person, might be more to the point. I wish someone had told me that earlier. I’d have hung on then; I swear I would.
Do you have marriage advice you'd like to give? Thoughts on how to live that daily life with your hubby? Why not share it? Just copy the picture above by right-clicking it and saving it to your computer, and then go to your blog and write a post. Then come back here and enter the URL below. We'd love to read what you have to say!
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