“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring.”
Today I am writing this message especially with our grandchildren in mind so they will know that this is a milestone event for Granny and Pops. The celebration of our 52nd. Anniversary. This is something that our parents or grandparents never had the opportunity to experience. They had a lifetime of marriage together but did not live long enough to celebrate that many years.
The number of years is impressive but more significant is the realization that we still enjoy one another’s company. We have a deep level of friendship, passion for our relationship and life, unconditional love, and support of one another…all true gifts from God.
Many of the principles I have written about to achieve a life of abundance were used to attract a lifetime partner. I carried a list in my pocket of the qualities I wanted in a spouse. I dated quite a few girls, but they didn’t meet my expectations until I went on a blind date with Jeanne. At the end of that evening my friend told me I said to him, “That is the girl I’m going to marry.” Two and a half years after that first date we got married.
We were blessed in the first five years. It was all romance and very little disillusionment. We went on a Marriage Encounter weekend after our fifth anniversary. On that experience we were asked to become a presenting team and a leader to spread the message to others. It was a weekend structured to make good marriages better. Our training in that experience certainly strengthened our relationship.
For five years we practiced what we taught to other couples on the Marriage Encounter Weekend. We would spend ten minutes every day writing a love letter to each other sharing our feelings on many different topics such as money, our children, relatives, work, leisure time. The true gift of marriage is to have someone that loves you, supports you, and is always in your corner. Such a relationship encourages us to always be the best person we can possibly be and that benefits everyone whose lives we touch.
The advice that we have for each of our eight grandchildren is to pray that you meet a partner that will love you unconditionally and celebrate life with you. Coincidentally or providentially we both were in the same church praying to meet a lifetime partner before we went out on that blind date. We would also encourage you to seek personal and spiritual growth experiences together so that you will grow through the years individually and in your relationship.
It has been helpful for us to learn on that Marriage Encounter Weekend that committed relationships go through three phases throughout the years. These are Romance, Disillusionment, and True Joy. It is also important to keep in mind that “Love is a Decision!” Too often we equate love with “a feeling.” The “decision to love” when feelings certainly aren’t loving or kind can get us through some difficult times and can strengthen the foundation of our relationship again and again.
One of our great teachers was a Jesuit priest, Fr. Chuck Gallagher. His priesthood was dedicated to the elevation of Matrimony. He inspired us to see our relationship as a true vocation. He was responsible for getting the Marriage Encounter movement introduced worldwide. His book Embodied in Love reflects his passion for the sacrament of Matrimony. He deeply touched our lives. Here’s a quote from that book. “In all of our human encounters, we are to be credible symbols of the Trinity. And we become those symbols by being each other’s intimates, by living a passionate, self-abandoning concern for each other in every moment of meeting. We Christians are to be remarkable, noticeable, credible, for the way we love each other, and for that love for each other is our intimacy with God.”
You may want to set aside ten minutes this week to write a love letter to your significant other letting them know what you most appreciate about them. Spend some quiet time together as you exchange your letters.
To our grandchildren: You may want to practice this powerful experience by writing a love letter to your parents or a best friend letting them know what you appreciate about them.