After 15 years of marriage you accumulate a lot of experiences to look back on. Hopefully, most of them are good. There are happy times, sad times, and what I like to call fork in the road times. If you are married long enough, you will face it at some point. They are the times in our life where the selfish comes out and it is evident to everyone around us. It looks like a fireball spinning out of control and it indiscriminately sets ablaze anything that it comes in contact with.
You know what I'm talking about, because like me, you are human and we are inherently selfish.
It's anything but glorious to look at ourselves that way, but I have found if we can be brutally honest, then we can start to move past ourselves and see all that there is in life that is most important. All the things that God has so richly blessed us with that really matters.
I will admit it, over the past 15 years my wife has had to put up with her fair share of stupid coming from me. She has been a trooper. Thing is, we both have had to forgive each other throughout this commitment that we call marriage, and why wouldn't we? Neither of us is perfect.
If you are young in love or marriage, and that facade is still there, enjoy it. If you are old in marriage and you are barely hanging on, stick with me. I am going to take you guys with me today on a journey through my past.
Two little words that say a mouthful, right? We say it hundreds of times a day, whether at the fast food counter, the bank, the store, or even at home with those we love. We express our wants and we have learned to do it very effectively. I dare say that you or I have any problem telling others what we want.
I know this because we all used to be children. We would cry as a baby in letting others know what we want. As a toddler we would whine about it. As teens we were either mouthy or we let our needs be known in a more sullen, manipulative way. Most of us as adults float between those three stages in our life.
Just think about it, how do you tell your spouse what you want?
What if we went radical here? I mean what if we turned this whole marriage and relationship thing on its ear and began to do what three wise men in my life shared with me growing up? You may know of one or two of these men, but probably not all three.
The first is Pastor Harry Walls. He is the senior pastor at Shades Mountain Independent Church in Hoover, Alabama. He was Ivy League educated. A city boy who moved down South years ago, married to a woman who loved horses and so they lived in the country. I used to love to hear him preach, because he would break down the word into the Hebrew and Greek like nobody's business. You left his sermons full, like you had just had a steak dinner. It was some meaty stuff, not the stuff and fluff spewed out there most Sunday mornings these days. But the thing that I have taken with me through my whole marriage was something that he said in passing to me when I was just 18.
I was working on the grounds crew at the church and saw Pastor Walls and asked him for some advice on dating. He said just one sentence and then left me to figure it out. His sage words were, "Chase her smile." Three words. Three stinking words. Seriously, these words have been the credo of my life with my wife. I haven't always succeeded, but I have tried.
To chase a woman's smile means that once you marry you still pursue her like when you were dating. It means that when she is having a bad day we feel that and help in any way we can. It means writing her notes, bringing flowers, listening, holding, considering. But most importantly, HELPING around the house and with the kids. It means putting the "I wants" on the shelf. It is sage advice and three words could have never spoken more volumes.
The next guy is Travis Tritt, the country music singer. No, I don't have a personal relationship with Travis, but he did write a song that has stuck with me and helped me many a time. Who would've thought that a country singer from the 90's would write a song that would have that kind of an impact on our marriage? I'm sure you remember it, it was one of my favorites, "Foolish Pride". It was a song about a couple who had given up on trying to work it out and through their stubbornness, let loves last burning ember be squelched with selfishness.
I may be a mental case here, but each and every time my wife and I have an argument, this song begins to play in my head. To this day through eighteen months of dating,and 15 years of marriage, we have never gone to sleep while angry. We have always worked through the meat of the argument. And I can thank the Lord and Travis Tritt for that. Once again the "I wants" have to be on the back burner for this to take place.
Lastly, most of you have heard of this young man, how he impacts me makes me remember what I saw in Crystal when we met. Most of you know Flynn Rider as the male character in the movie Tangled, but I think of him as a relational counselor as well. One of the last lines of the movie he says, "She was a princess worth waiting for", when I heard that in the movie I was instantly reminded of all the years leading up to the point where Crystal and I met.
Do you remember the first moment you saw your spouse? Man, I was blown away! Not just by her beauty, but because literally I realized… yes, that's it, that's her, the one I've been looking for for the past 21 years of my life. I can only describe it as like when an archaeologist has a map and travels deep into the heart of Africa to find some lost artifact. He knows what he is looking for and it has taken him a lifetime to find it, but the moment that he does, there is no mistaking it. In his heart he can barely fight back the emotion that only a life time of searching can bring when you find that one thing that you have been missing all along. You will do anything to have it, to keep it, and to keep it safe.
It is the same when you meet your spouse. They are worth waiting for. So was my Crystal. And I find that when I implement the teachings of these three wise men, that my life with Crystal goes very smoothly. So I would encourage you to quell the "I wants" in your life. Find time to chase the smile of the one you love, put away your foolish pride, and remember that they are "a princess (or prince) worth waiting for". What would that archaeologist do with their treasure? They would take very good care of it and value it far more than other things in their life. I am working hard to do that.
Disclaimer….Crystal and I are not perfect and we do not have the perfect marriage. We both make mistakes. Also, there is NO WAY we would have made it through all we went through without God being first in our lives. We hope to dive more in depth to these topics in the future! So, stay tuned for more.