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I was ten years old when I watched my great-grandparents renew their wedding vows on their fiftieth anniversary.

Though any other time I would’ve been itching to get out of my dress and hair bows so I could run off and play, I was mesmerized by the love that shone out of those two faces who’d seen each other every day for the last fifty years of their lives.

My memories of them together are all wonderful, but what stands out to me is how selfless they were when it came to the other person.

Great-Grandma would drop whatever she was doing and head out to the porch to greet him whenever she heard his tractor approaching.

Granddaddy came home more than once with his arms sticking out like stiff tree branches from the bee-stings he’d acquired getting the honeycomb she loved fresh from the bee farm.

She called him Daddy. He wrote her poetry. They prayed for each other.

It was a marriage that spoke of the beauty of marriage without using words. A marriage so timeless that my Great-Grandmother, who turns 95 this month, still speaks of him with a smile on her face and in her voice whenever we talk.

Though I’m hardly as selfless as I need to be to measure up to the kind of wife my Great-Grandmother was, I’m learning to get there.

Some of the lessons are hard, others rewarding. All of them precious.

What about you? Do you have any memories or models that shaped your perception and/or goals for marriage? Have they had a lasting impact on your marriage?

Click here for Marriage Part II: The Choice. Click here for Marriage Part III: The Wife’s Role.