Keep on Loving

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“How did you and Duane manage to have such a loving and close family?” Kathy asked following the funeral service for Doris’s husband.

Doris recounted to Kathy the winter evening 36 years before, when she recognized that she no longer loved her husband. The trigger for that realization was when she heard the clink of a spoon on his cup. He didn’t drink his chocolate milk. He had a disgusting, irritating habit. He drank it by the spoonful, clinking his spoon on the cup all the while. She got up from her chair in the living room with her heart as cold as a stone, and went into the kitchen silently moaning, ‘How can I live another fifty years with this man?’ They had married when very young and impetuous, were very happy, and parented three children, but it seemed that there had been gradual changes that led to her loss of love for her husband, feeling his constant criticism as the top offender.

On a sudden urge Doris sat at the kitchen table with a paper and pencil and wrote a list of her husband’s faults...consisting of only five things—one being his constant criticism. So on another piece of paper she listed his good qualities, and the list got long. At the top of the list was his sense of humour, his strong work ethic making him a good provider, putting his family first, a terrific father, coaching his children in sports, and on and on. Then she thought, ‘With all these wonderful qualities why do I feel so hostile toward him?’

Taking another piece of paper she listed her good qualities, which she realized were few. When she wrote her flaws her list grew longer and longer. It became clear to her that she needed to do some personal work on relationship building. She thought, ‘Why does this man stay married to me?’

She took the lists into the living room where Duane was still drinking his chocolate milk with a spoon, threw them into the fireplace to burn, unbeknown to him. Going back to the kitchen she made a new personal list, a plan of action, focusing on changing her own thoughts and conduct. To her surprise, as she changed her focus to improving her ways of relating to Duane, she soon gained new love and respect for him. And he treated her with love and respect in return. His criticism stopped—and so did his drinking chocolate milk with a spoon! Their marriage deepened into an abiding, secure love and respect for one another that enriched their lives. Doris was convinced that her commitment to the marriage impelled her to improve her relationship with her husband. For the remainder of Duane’s life their marriage was full of mutual fulfillment and happiness. (Adapted from Love is a Verb by Gary Chapman.

Doris and Duane were putting into action the Scripture guidance regarding love: “Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick-tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 CEV) Wouldn’t today be a good time to resolve to live these ideals in all our relationships, whether we’re married or single?

Picture originally found here

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