Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Photo In My Wallet...

I still have the photo in my wallet. Not "A" photo but "THE" photo. It is my wife's senior picture, taken just a few months before we were married twenty six years ago. I have more recent photos of her in my planner, but the one in my wallet is the one I see most. While she doesn't completely understand this, she smiles when I tell her it is because she still looks like that to me. She is still my beautiful eighteen year old sweetheart. She is the girl I try to impress every day. My view of being a man in a marriage requires that I be her warrior and lover; that I ride to her rescue every day.

It might be in little things -- like making the bed or doing the laundry without being asked, or in refusing to eat a meal at her table without thanking her profusely and joining in the cleaning up. It might be in listening to her describe her day even though I really don't get why she wants to do that! She is an interior designer and I have heard more about carpets, furniture and drapes (sorry -- "window treatments") than I ever wanted to hear, but she needs to say something so I need to be there to hear it. I might need to ride to her rescue by taking her out as often as possible, learning which restaurants she likes and which ones she doesn't, or by holding her purse at the mall (and how bad can that be, guy? For one, it is the only time I'm near my money...).

It might be in bigger things. My wife came from fairly wealthy family while mine was very poor. I warned her that marrying me was not a step down the social ladder but a leap into the abyss! But she smiled and took my hand all those years ago and, by doing so, changed my life and saved it at the same time. In response, I must be willing to do whatever it takes to make her life a joy. My family was in from the far, far right edge of the brotherhood; the only part of it where, when the preacher spoke about hell he would frequently giggle. My dad -- a good and righteous man -- is still part of that group. He firmly believes that Christmas is evil and preaches against it even in mid-June. Kami's family begins decorating for Christmas right about then. To my father's credit he has never criticized my wife for decorating the house for the holidays or for anything else. He knows that I have already chosen her above all others and that I will not tolerate anyone speaking against her -- even my father or mother. She is my girlfriend and I am her warrior and lover. She is safe with me. She will never hear criticism from my lips and I will not tolerate it from others.

I use humor a lot when I speak, but check over the tapes and CDs of the last 20+ years and you will never hear me tell a story that puts my wife in a bad light -- not even when I am "just kidding." If she wrecked the car twice this week and burned every dinner not one other person on the planet would ever know about it.

One time she wanted to do a Master's program. In Britain the system is different. You pay for the program and then take as long as it takes to do the degree. So I paid for the program only to come downstairs six months later and find her sitting among a circle of books and papers with tears in her eyes. I said, "Sweetie, what's wrong?" She wiped her eyes and said, "I hate this. I thought I would really like this subject but now that I am in it, I hate it." I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Then don't do it. Quit." She said, "I can't quit. You paid all that money so I could do this." I sat on the floor next to her and hugged her saying, "Angel, I paid that money so that you would be happy. If quitting would make you happy, I got what I paid for."

I learned how to do this from Ephesians 5 where it tells me that I am her head just as Christ is the head of the church. Is the church perfect? No, not to anybody but Jesus. Ephesians goes on to say that He treats the church as if there weren't any spots or blemishes. Then Paul tells us that is the way we are to treat our wives.

And so I see no wrinkles, no blemishes, no passage of time. I see an eighteen year old girl with long brown hair and whose smile shattered my self-imposed exile twenty six years ago. I know I could pick a fight here and there and criticize this or that if I wanted to. But I don't want to. Doing it God's way is a lot more fun.

If you'll excuse me, I'll go look at that photo again.


At 6/16/2005 10:09:00 AM , Blogger TCS said...

You keep doing it. Another great post! But, I didn't realize that your father was my preacher growing up!? How come we never met? We were both lured to the Christmas side.

Very encouraging to read of your love and devotion.

At 6/16/2005 10:19:00 AM , Blogger Kirsten said...

Thank you Patrick. I listen to you every Sunday at RCOC and never fail to be impressed with your devotion to Kami. But THIS - took it to new heights.

From a young person still looking forward to marriage with hope whenever possible, but fighting against the horrible experiences I've had in my personal life (that would tell me there won't be anything to look forward to)...

This is a ray of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. A blessing.

Thank you for sharing this!

At 6/16/2005 06:56:00 PM , Blogger Billy D said...

Yet another great post! You never fail to inspire me sir. Thank you for being there, and doing what you do.

At 6/17/2005 11:45:00 AM , Blogger That Girl said...

Oh, I wish someone had my picture in their wallet! Probably not the senior portrait but... still.

At 6/17/2005 02:13:00 PM , Blogger don said...

"...when the preacher spoke about hell he would frequently giggle."

What a funny line!

The rest of the post was good, too. Keep 'em coming. Those of us who try to live this out, and those of us who don't, all need to know that it is possible at least to attempt it, and that it pays off. Thanks.

At 6/18/2005 11:07:00 AM , Blogger David U said...

PM, thanks so much for helping me pack my bags for this guilt trip I am now on because of you! :)

I know we are only supposed to compare ourselves to the Cross, but let's face it.........your post made a lot of men like myself shameful. I can do better.

Good brothers make us accountable, so thanks for being a good brother.

Now, get to the next subject! :)

Keep bloggin, bro!

At 6/18/2005 08:59:00 PM , Blogger Stephen said...

Wow. What can I say? You explain such much more eloquently than a someone like me. When faced with fellow students in Clarion University of Pennsylvania's Department of Library Science as well as throughout the rest of the university I always hit road blocks when explaining how marriage and relationships are viewed from the RC-centric perspective. One particular Roman Catholic lass always had trouble understanding how things looked from my Churches of Christ perspective and kinda still does. I am thinking referring your post to her might best explain prevalent thought as to marriage and relations from my traditional background to her.

While in my lonely purgatory that is Ashtabula I often do miss hearing you speak wisdom...

At 6/20/2005 10:03:00 AM , Blogger Keith said...

Thanks for the example of true manhood. I'm traveling with David U. now on the new cruiseship "Guiltliner!" I know your intent is to lead and love. I applaud your devotion. Unfortunately, sometimes the soil is not always fertile that the love seeds is falling on. I'll try and do better. Thanks for your example.


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