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.