“When a man is driven by love, he intentionally behaves in a way that’s more pleasant for his wife to be around. If she desires to love him, she purposefully avoids things that frustrate him or cause him discomfort. The bottom line is that genuine love minds its manners.” ~ Stephen & Alex Kendrick
I had decided to preach about marriage for the first time ever, and I wanted to make a big deal out of it. It wasn’t long before I came up with what I thought was an award-winning idea. I would videotape three different couples each answering a series of the same questions about married life and I would then show that video during Sunday’s worship service. I set to work writing questions and setting up appointments with the couples that I had planned to interview, thoroughly excited about all that I was going to learn throughout the process.
The first couple had been married for about fifteen years. The second couple had been married for twice that long, about thirty years. The final couple had been married for right around sixty years, about twice as long as the second couple. With a stack of questions and my digital camera in hand, I set out to conduct my interviews and had a great time doing so with each of the first two couples.
When I arrived at the home of the third couple, I was warmly greeted by Wanda, who escorted me into the home where her husband, Ivan, was already seated and waiting for me. After asking if she could bring me anything to eat or drink (Wanda has always been the best of hostesses), we sat down to begin the interview. I asked each of them to tell me a little bit about how they met one another (those stories are always priceless, no matter how many I hear!) and then began to ask a few questions about what it was like to have been married to the same person for so many decades. As the interview drew to a close, I prepared to ask my final question; a question that I had asked each couple thus far and one that was at the heart of what I was there to learn. I looked directly at both Ivan and Wanda and said, “now that we are just about finished, I have one more question for you. What, in your opinion, is the most important thing for someone to do if they want to have a strong marriage?”
Both were quiet for a moment as Ivan slowly began to smile. He looked up at me with eyes that were smiling in a way that only Ivan’s could and simply said, “Take time to be polite.” When I asked Ivan to elaborate a bit, he shared with me that in his “limited” experience, most people tend to come across as if they take their spouse for granted, failing to treat one another as they would want to be treated and ultimately giving each other the worst versions of themselves instead of the best.
Growing old friends, strong marriages and deep relationships doesn’t happen by accident. If you want to grow a relationship that is strong enough to stand the test of time, then take Ivan’s advice and begin to treat the people that you care about the way that you would want to be treated. If you do, then you might just be surprised by how strong your relationships will become.