I have been reading Ecclesiastes lately. It has been awhile since I spent time with its message. “Ecclesiastes challenges the naïve optimism,” notes Eugene Peterson, “that sets a goal that appeals to us and then goes after it with gusto… The author’s cool skepticism, a refreshing negation to the lush and seductive suggestions swirling around us, promising everything but delivering nothing, clears the air. And once the air is cleared, we are ready for reality – for God.”
During my senior years, I found a good word about life with my wife that had been tucked away from my awareness in earlier years. The CEV translation puts it straight and plain for men living in a confusing and meaningless age: “Life is short, and you love your wife. So enjoy being with her. This is what you are supposed to do as you struggle through life on the earth” (9:9). I can almost picture my own mother giving me that advice on my wedding day. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 18:22, “A man’s greatest treasure is his wife. She is a gift from God.” The NLT Application Bible notes, “How sad it would be to be married and not appreciate or enjoy the companion God had given you.”
I write this blog as a testimony to God’s work in my heart, helping me to be a better husband. More than ever, I am learning during my senior years the blessing of my “better half.” For me, Judy is the one created for our union as man and wife. She is like good wine, getting better as she ages. Thank you, Lord… Here are a few things I am learning in a new way after 56 years with the same woman, things that may help you as well in your own marriage:
First, the simple reality: “life is short.” I have not always given my bride the attention she deserves. I have allowed myself to be distracted, not emotionally available to cultivate a more soulful relationship with Judy. But life is short. Make each day count. Don’t be lazy about giving your bride attention. Relationships take time and effort. After all she is “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23).
Secondly, I am learning to “cherish” my wife – which means, “hold dear,” “protect and care for,” and “keep in mind.” I tell her how much I love her most very day. I continually tell her how important she is to me. I acknowledge daily my intention to cherish her throughout the rest of our journey.
Thirdly, I enjoy being with my wife. This means that I give her attention and tell her how much I appreciate her companionship. I find fulfillment in our sharing of life together. I spend quality time sharing heart-to-heart with my bride. I miss her when she is not by my side.
Fourthly, more and more I realize that Judy is my greatest treasure and a special gift from God. I have always appreciated her, but I have not always verbalized to her what a gift she is to me. I often use new words to express my delight in her – mostly verbal, because written is less my style.
Fifthly, I want to remember the last part of Eccl. 9:9, “The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil” (NLT). Yes, this life will be an “earthly toil.” But I praise God that he has given me a true soul mate who listens and gives godly input into my life of “toil.” I pray you can too!