On Aug. 9, Terry and I will be married for 41 years. And, after 41 years, I still like her.
I am really not quite sure when I first realized that I liked her, but I do know when I fell in love with her. It was the first time I saw her. An acquaintance of mine pointed her out to me.
For the next couple of days as I kept seeing her, I tried to figure out a way to “introduce myself” to her. As it turned out, another guy that she had seen — and one whom she apparently was interested in — and I favored each other somewhat. I was sitting alone at a table when she approached me with one of her roommates by her side. I nearly slobbered all over myself.
She asked, “Are you Huey?” I looked at her for a moment. Although my mouth felt wobbly, I did manage to get out weakly, “No, but I wish that I was.” After that encounter, I became more proactive about the girl. Even days after when I started seeing her hanging off of Huey’s arm, I did what I could to flirt with her — much to her dislike, discomfort and chagrin.
Do you realize that it took God over a year to convince her that it was I whom she should love? Goodness, God is slow at times.
But, one thing for sure, these past 41 years have not been slow. The time with Terry has flown by like the wisp of the wind.
God made a pretty good thing when he made marriage. I am really not sure why people have such a hard time with it. It might be in part because of the “like” factor.
Do you remember the movie “Shenandoah”? It starred Jimmy Stewart and was set in Virginia during the Civil War. A young man wanted to marry the daughter of Charlie Anderson (played by Stewart). He came to Anderson to ask her hand in marriage.
Anderson sat down with the young man and asked him, “Do you like her?” “Oh, yes sir, I love her very much!” was the eager reply. Anderson asked again (in so many terms), “No, it is not so much about loving her, but do you like her?”
Perhaps we hide too much behind the term “love.” You can love a spouse but lose the initial intensity of that love rather quickly. You can love a spouse but easily get upset with them. You can love a spouse but not want to spend time with them. You can love a spouse but begrudge the weight they have put on or resent the character they manifest over time.
But, if you not only love them but like them as well, the interactions become more favorable. If you like your spouse, the intensity of that initial love seems to remain sustained. If you like your spouse, there will be a greater range of tolerance. If you like your spouse, you will be more prone to want to be in their presence and do things with them. If you like your spouse, added weight does not matter and character flaws are not very noticeable.
Are you not more amiable with people when you like them?
To like your spouse sometimes means not being so selfish. To like your spouse sometimes means being more responsive and favorable to their overtures of kindness and gentle affections instead of burring up and being insensitive.
After 41 years, I still like the woman whom I love, and I believe she likes and loves me, too, despite how crusty of an old man I am. Our fellowship has remained steady during the good times and despite the hard times.
Undoubtedly, that is what God expects. Besides, the way I look at it, I would have gotten to have an additional year with her if He had not been so slow in working things out for me.
In the meantime, Terry and I are blessed to be grandparents to another child. Our fourth son, Jeshua, and his wife, Megan, had a second daughter born to their family about a week ago — Elora Betheney. She is absolutely beautiful. It makes for us the sixth grandchild.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.