On Sunday, Husband and I took our coupons to Arby’s for a fancy Sunday dinner consisting of roast beef and curly fries. After we finished eating, we were on our way out and we noticed an older gentleman walking a little slowly toward the exit, so we waited so that we could hold open the door for him. After thanking us for “waiting for an old man like him,” he stopped and smiled and said,
“How old do you think I am?”
Husband and I both politely guessed a younger age, then he beamed and declared,
We complimented him on how good he looked for his age, then my big mouth got ahead of my brain and I blurted out,
“Why are you here all by yourself?”
The smile faded from his face as he responded,
“Well my wife died a year ago so I do most things alone now. We were married sixty-three years.”
We offered condolences, then his eyes got a little misty and he smiled again and said,
“Do you know what she used to do? She used to wake up just as I was getting out of the shower and she’d walk in singing the Miss America theme, then she’d say, ‘I want my coffee and I want it now!’”
He chuckled while shaking his head and said, “I’d always get it for her though.”
He then started to reminisce about the old days (all while we’re still standing in the Arby’s parking lot), and we were happy to listen. He told us of their first date, a night at the movies, and about how she always teased and said that the only reason she went on that first date with him was because he was the only boy she knew who had a car. It didn’t matter that we were strangers. I think he could have talked to anyone who would listen.
As we were getting back in the car, I said, “He’s cute” and Husband replied, “He’s lonely.” I thought about what the old man was going to do now. I wondered if he was going to go home and just sit and think about her…if he was going to talk to her, pretending she was in the room with him. If he maybe, hopefully, had plans with other people later that night, or the next day, or anytime this week. I felt sorry for him. But then I thought about the alternative lifestyle, which is what most people are going to be experiencing when they’re 86, if they live that long. There will be a day (it’s getting closer and closer) when meeting someone who was married to the same person for 63 years will be a rare find indeed. In our culture, the moment you stop feeling the butterflies you felt while you were dating, it’s time to find someone else. Marriage is just a piece of paper and a shared bed. It’s not a lifelong commitment, but just something new to try.
Who would I rather be when I’m 86? Someone who was married three times because I cared more about personal satisfaction than about selfless commitment and family values or someone who shared love and devotion with the same person for 63 years? The answer is obvious. I pity the man for the emptiness he feels now that his beloved has passed, but I envy him for the 63 years of committed adoration they shared.
I want that. I want to have that kind of forever and always marital bond with my husband. I want my kids to see that no matter what life throws at us, one thing is certain: Mom and Dad are staying together. Their commitment to Christ and each other will always make it work against all odds. I want my kids to be totally grossed out by how in love we still are after many years of being together. I want my kids to see what a happy, godly marriage looks like just by watching their parents every day.
I often tell my husband that when we are old (if God allows us to live that long), I hope I go first. It’s completely selfish and unfair, but I really don’t want to think about living life alone without him. I also tell him that it’s okay if he marries someone else, even if I die tomorrow. I don’t want him to be lonely.
If you’re a Christian and you’re married, make it a goal to do more hand-holding this week and less eye rolling. Do more of reminding yourself why you married that person, and do less fault-finding. Do more assigning of pure motives to his/her mistakes rather than always assuming the worst. Speak in complimentary terms of your spouse to others instead of casually joining in the husband/wife bashing sessions with your worldly friends (and unfortunately, sometimes your Christian friends). Do more intent listening this week than staring at your phone while your spouse is talking. If you’re a husband, treat your wife in such a way that she will be counting the minutes until you come home at the end of the day. If you’re a wife, treat him in such a way that makes coming home to you the very best part of his day.
Make it a point to picture yourself at 86 years old more often. Ask yourself regularly if you’re making your marriage something that you will love reminiscing about even after your spouse is gone, or if you will be filled with bitter regret.
Make today with your spouse, even if it’s just in small ways, one you will love remembering.
On that note, I’m off to fold laundry and count the minutes until my man comes home for lunch with me, just like I hope he’ll still be doing when we’re 86.