For many days now I’ve been mulling over the question: what have thirty years of marriage have taught me? When I look back at where we were, where we’ve been and all that’s happened through the years, all I can honestly say is that it is the kindness, the grace and the mercy of God that we’re where we are today. Now, that might be a preface one might use to begin telling the story of a once rocky marriage or the story of a marriage that was saved from shipwreck. In deciding to use the “it’s by the grace of God…” preface is to say that we are humbly aware that the blessings, the good things, etc., etc., are all by the grace of God. That preface is used to convey the thought that we are in awe of the benevolent grace and mercy of the Lord we’ve been immersed in through all these years.
I know that years have softened rough edges of difficulties or trials, disappointments, lack and loss through the years and that my memories are probably a bit selective and my vision is not as sharp as it once was, but I’m not wearing rose coloured glasses today to gloss over reality. Perhaps more accurately though, I find that there’s some real benefit to wearing rose coloured glasses… it’s in wearing them that there’s a blessing to just be able to pass over the things that really don’t matter and to glowingly see the things that do. And so, that’s probably my introduction to what thirty years of marriage have taught me: to pass over the things that really don’t matter and joyfully anticipate and savour the things that do. Because, truly, most things we fret (or fretted) over, or make (or made) a big deal over, are really not (or weren’t) all that important.
In the end, some of those little irritations, those petty arguments, and selfish preferences really didn’t and really don’t matter. And so, what I wish I had known then (whenever the ‘then’ was — yesterday, ten years ago, twenty years ago or even thirty years ago) are things I know (a bit more) now. I’ve been learning more and more through the years to just pass over the unimportant things *and* to not make big things out of little things. Thirty years have taught me that we honestly and truly will forget or think unimportant those things that in the past might’ve gripped us — those things we might’ve at one time thought of as impossible, irreconcilable differences or grievances. So, what are those things?
Well, I’ve wondered a lot lately: what are the things that I was or might’ve been irritated over in the past or what things made me frustrated, nervous, disappointed, and etc.? Put in perspective, I’ve thought of this question further in this context: if Wes were to die tonight, what would not matter or what would not have mattered? Really… deep down matter? Then, for even more clarity: if he only had three and a half months to live, would some of this stuff matter at all? Would those things that didn’t get done or those things I wanted to do and didn’t or couldn’t — what, if anything, would matter or be worth quibbling over?
Some inconsiderate comment? Socks on the floor? Forgetting important details of a story? Neglecting to remember an appointment? Not being as ‘good’ or as ______ (fill in the blank here) as Mrs. So ‘n so’s husband? Would I care about some of my have not’s? Would I be impatient with him? Would it irritate me that he forgot to do or say something? Would I find it drudgery to run another errand for him, or wait for him, or have him be late for dinner or whatever great or small inconvenience was in my path?
Well, since we don’t know the day or the hour of our own death, our husband’s death or the great or small activities we may face. One thing i do know is this: the Bible says, “The discretion of a man defereth his anger and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” – we read in Proverbs 19.11. A glory to pass over a transgression? A glory? Yes. It is a glory to just let things go – to say, it doesn’t matter. Let that comment go into the sea of forgetfulness. I know poat is not a great acronym – it’s not catchy and it’s not all the attractive. So the only thing I’ve ever been able to tie it to is this: poat, don’t pout.
So… that’s probably one of the greatest benefits or lessons I’ve been learning through the years. Let those disappointments, those trials, those insensitive words or comments, those missed marks – misunderstandings, those less than ideal conditions… let then slip away and be cast into the sea of forgetfulness.
Last night as we were dining in a delightful little Greek restaurant – Monday night, notoriously not a very busy night of the week in restaurants, we had smatterings of conversations with our server… a beautiful young woman glowing with early pregnancy and youth. Later she asked what brought us to the island and what we were celebrating; we told her today’s our thirtieth wedding anniversary! Glowing. :o) She was taken aback and quickly offered: “Wow, congratulations!”
Later she returned and said… so I want to know: what would you tell me is the key to long marriage?
Pass over things. Not a lot of what you think’s important today is really all that important. Let little things go… don’t be petty and don’t get easily ruffled or offended. It doesn’t matter… it really doesn’t matter. Delight in him… let him know it – live it every day. You may not have tomorrow. Make today the best today. Trust the Lord. We talked a little bit about a lot of different things.
She returned again later saying she wanted to take care of our dessert for us for being such an encouragement and blessing to her. The whole evening was delightful… as sweet as thirty years of dessert.