My wife, Cathy and I are about to Celebrate our fourth anniversary. When we celebrated last year, I remarked to her that one of the advantages of being a divorcee is that I take our marriage less for granted.
I got married the first time when I was 26 years old. We had a child 11 months later. To some degree, I was going through the motions of what American Latter-day Saints do. I graduated from high school, served a mission, went to college, and got married when I was in graduate school. It’s kind of the life plan we all expect to follow. I loved my first wife and my family, but I think I kind of just expected it would always be there for me. I took it too much for granted. Perhaps I thought what I was doing and the way I was living was just normal. But normal isn’t special.
Having a lengthy marriage and then getting divorced woke me up to the fact that we are not simply entitled to marriage or children. Our spouses ALWAYS have choices. Even if you feel really solid with someone, that is partly a result of their devotion and conscious choice to be with you. That is a great blessing and a high honor. We should never take it for granted. We should celebrate it every day, and not just on anniversaries.
Elder F. Burton Howard spoke about how his wife had painstakingly put aside a few dollars at a time for individual pieces of silverware, starting right after they were married. Coming up with a full set of only four place settings took several years. She continued to collect pieces one at a time. Sister Howard treasured this silver, and carefully polished it before and after each use, and removed any tarnish. She kept each piece in a separate pocket in her silverware case and laid a tarnish free cloth inside when the silver was stored. The silverware was brought out only for special occasions; and was never taken camping or anywhere else where it might be damaged. Mrs. Howard took extra care to safeguard this silver against theft or loss. Elder Howard compared the way his wife treated this precious silver to marriage, and gave this parable:
For years I thought she was just a little bit eccentric, and then one day I realized that she had known for a long time something that I was just beginning to understand. If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.
Eternal marriage is just like that. We need to treat it just that way.
Cathy and I dated for a good chunk of 2016 and were “just friends” for all of 2017. At the end of that year (literally the last day of the year) I wrote her a letter and asked her to date me for marriage. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was dating two good men, who both had serious intentions, and trying to decide between them. So, I complicated her life. Even with the great options she had and even though we had stopped dating a year prior, Cathy chose me. I don’t take that for granted. She could have chosen otherwise. So, I consider it a great blessing that she chose me.
Before I even met Cathy, I learned that we can only enjoy something to the extent that we are grateful for it. Our enjoyment is directly proportional to our gratitude. I enjoy my marriage and the love that we share so much because I am deeply grateful for it. I am grateful for another chance at life and happiness in marriage. I am grateful for someone to love every day in a special way. I am grateful for the kind of family life I once took for granted as being “just normal.” Because I feel abundantly blessed, I feel abundantly happy. That is the secret my friends.
If you are still single (or single again), be grateful for what you have. Be happy for others when good things happen to them. Be enthusiastic and embrace your life for its possibilities. Life is not merely to be endured. It is to be lived. So, take chances, have adventures, love deeply, and live it well.
About the Author
Jeff Teichert and his wife Cathy Butler Teichert are the founders of “Love in Later Years,” which ministers to Latter-day Saint mid-singles seeking peace, healing, and more joyful relationships; and the authors of the Amazon bestseller Intentional Courtship: A Mid-Singles Guide to Peace, Progress and Pairing Up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeff and Cathy each spent nearly a decade in the mid-singles community and draw on this experience to provide counsel and hope to mid-singles and later married couples. Jeff and Cathy are both certified life coaches and have university degrees in Family Science. They are the parents of a blended family that includes four handsome sons and one lovely daughter-in-law.
Purchase Jeff & Cathy’s book at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09KMXXJN7?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420
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