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julie portrait3BW[From Julie]We have another guest post today here at the blog.  Sandy is a good friend of ours and she and her husband Rick spent many years as shepherds to our church family at Tintern.  Rick was very suddenly taken home to God a little over a year ago.  That was a difficult experience for all of us but especially for Sandy and her family.  Grief is difficult and a day by day kind of experience.  Sandy has been gracious to all of us who say the wrong thing at the wrong time or just simply don’t know what to do.

In the spring last year we were making plans to hold our third Peasant Princess group and Sandy asked if she could join the group as well.  A little more marriage experience and wisdom is always welcome so she joined us every week and was very insightful.  She had some words of encouragement for the group which she shared at our wrap up breakfast session.  When Noel and I decided to tackle this marriage blog idea we asked Sandy if she would share those words of encouragement again.  She graciously agreed and voila, a guest post.  So I’ll let Sandy take it from here.

sandyBWNoel and Julie invited me a few months back to give some thoughts from my marriage to Rick for 36.5 years and some important lessons learned. Those lessons have become so much more important as I ‘learn them in reverse’ now that Rick is not here. And before I go any further, I pray this is not one of those messages ‘imploring you to love each other deeply now because you NEVER KNOW’. But I guess in some ways, it will sound exactly that for which I seek compassion.

Have you seen that commercial where there’s an unspoken tug of war between the husband and wife as to who is going to get up and make breakfast, until the wife hides under her pillow saying, “I’ll give you a hundred bucks!”? That was Rick and I in the early days, well actually, our entire married life. I learned from him then and so much more over the years about unconditional love and doing things just because you love someone. I could muster all kinds of reasons not to have to get up with our boys early in the morning, or make the coffee, or walk the dog, or take out the garbage or anything that might cause me discomfort or inconvenience. Without making him sound like a saint, Rick did those things and so much more, often at his personal expense, just because he loved me and most of the time – he actually WANTED to do those things for me.

While it took several years for us to navigate our relationship and it’s sometimes very rocky pathway, we came to a place relatively early where we understood what Julie mentioned in a recent blog: The marriage has to be the first priority or everyone involved suffers. We did not allow competition between our boys and us, we did not ‘bubble our children’ – (at the expense of needed time for ourselves) like I see many parents doing today. Our marriage was important and we found many wonderful ways to be content together as well as to love Brian and Terral to the best of our ability.

Lest that sounds a little too lofty, here is the main gist of this message. Some of the more important things I learned in our marriage, I can do nothing about now, hence the desire to encourage any married couples reading this to acknowledge their love for each other and act on it. RIGHT NOW, TODAY.

Somewhere around year 15, Rick and I learned the important lesson about communication styles and differences in couples and between men and women. Rick needed to hear “I love you” more than just the day I married him, and he needed loving touch. I was terrible at delivering my love those ways. I was great at creating wonderful events for birthdays, initiating nights out, planning trips, making or arranging for wonderfully well thought out gifts, and I believed those were great ways of saying I love you.

Touch was my nemesis and unfortunately became his via transference, or lack there of. Early in my life I learned some inappropriate, very negative things about touch and sexual touch that a young girl should not have to learn. I was not raped, but the memories of touch we consider today to be of a pedophile nature have never been erased for me. And most sadly, I let them get in the way – translating too often Rick’s touch of love and affection into something negative. So, it became easier for me not to touch him as much as I should have. In the event my boys ever decide to read this, to which I can see/hear Terral plugging his ears and making a loud “Lalalalalala” sound, I will leave it at that other than to say two things which seem really important to voice:

1.  If either of you have any negative sexual background, and it is impeding your ability to communicate love with simple touch or in a sexual way – GET HELP!

2.  If you are at a place in your marriage where the simple little gifts of touch, the spoken word, doing something for your spouse when you would rather not, saying I love you in the way they need to hear or feel have gone by the wayside: – due to young children, fatigue, extra demands from job, church, community involvement – do whatever you need to resurrect those actions of love for each other. Get creative without breaking the bank. Step outside yourselves a bit.

This morning I looked at a picture of Rick I had put on the front of a memory book I created for my boys, girls and myself. I allowed my finger to trace his lips and I actually thought for a second I felt his moustache that used to tickle me when he kissed me. I am so very thankful that I had the presence of heart the day he died to take his face in my hands and gently kiss his lips after he said to me, “Just in case, I love you.” I am so thankful I was able to tell him a couple of more times that day that I loved him – BUT IT JUST WASN’T ENOUGH.

Love is so simple when we allow it to be and yet very complex. But as the bumper stickers given to us by our second minister Dylan states: LOVE WINS

Go and love your spouse RIGHT NOW! And yes, let the kids see. Woah, wait a minute! This is a family blog! You know what I mean…