Twenty-one years ago, I married an accountant—with a personality. I always add “with a personality” because my husband is a hoot. His sense of humor was one reason I kept going out with him. He made me laugh and still does to this day.
As accountants go, my husband is also tight when it comes to money—so tight he squeaks when he walks. This posed a problem early in our marriage because I’m a spender. I like to spend money on others as much as myself. In fact, my love language is “gifts” and “words of affirmation.” I like to give as much as I like to receive.
I can’t tell you how looooooooooooooong it took until my husband understood my idea of celebrating birthdays and anniversaries involved gift swapping. It’s not like I hinted about the subject. I came right out and told him what I expected. Still, for years I got nothing. Nada. Zero.
Once, on my birthday, I thought surely he’ll take me to dinner. No one should have to cook on their birthday, right? So, I made sure the kids and I were ready when he came home from work. We even had our coats on. You know what he asked me?
“What’s for dinner?”
(Yes, I let him live.)
Today, I’m happy to report that after YEARS of training, he’s finally caught on. (Can I get a “Praise Jesus!”) This anniversary was best of all. He brought home flowers and a gift on the actual day of our anniversary. I was thrilled, but that’s not all. Friday night he took me to fancy restaurant, and then, whisked me away to the South of France!
Ok, he got a room at the Renaissance. But to me, it was like going to France! He was so sweet! Oh, I forgot to tell you about dinner…
It was wonderful! I had the best steak I had ever eaten. Once we were done with dinner, my husband shared all the things he appreciated about me. I was so touched the water works began to flow. Our server had already removed our plates and napkins so I had to use the tablecloth to wipe my eyes and nose. Come to think of it, that’s probably not good table manners but how often do the men in our lives open up like this?!
When he was finished, I suddenly felt a sense of panic. Did he expect me to share sweet nothings in return? I asked myself. He obviously had time to think about what he said to me. I was sort of put on the spot. If I had known he wanted to “share wedding vows,” I’d been prepared. My mind raced. What should I do… what should I do? Before I knew it, I was saying…
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
(If you’ve not seen the movie, “The Help” then you totally didn’t get that. Go see it!)
Long story, short…. He let me of the hook.
The rest of weekend I’ve been thinking about our earlier days and how we’ve grown—both of us—so I shared my thoughts with him Sunday afternoon. He replied, “Hey, I’d rather finish strong than start strong and fizzle out in the end.”
I liked that. It made me think of other areas in our marriage where we are finishing strong rather than giving up. It’s not easy to finish strong. It takes work. When the pastor said, “For better or worse” he wasn’t kidding, was he?
I’m discovering that better comes when I accept the worse in the moment and then give my spouse (and myself) space to grow. I think we’ll not only get better, we’ll finish strong.