A lot has been said about women lately. “Sexual assault;” “locker room banter;” “everybody does it;” “all men think this way” …
I’d like to talk about honor.
My wife and I are celebrating thirty years of marriage. Let me share a few things I have learned about the incalculable value of loving, of staying with someone and of honoring another person. Here’s the just the partial list.
Respect, humility, joy, laughter, shared values, growing understanding, deeper commitment; also changing diapers, cleaning toilets, helping with homework and washing dishes; family reunions, track meets, soccer matches, band performances, hiking trips, memorable vacations; children becoming cool adults, an empty nest, new chapters; interesting challenges, mutual support, deepened friendship, broadened faith, growing love … This is what honor does.
We are better people now than we were then, hanging in there in spite of pressures and temptations and fantasies of “someone else.” We all have them. Those days when we wonder if there might be another lover out there who might make me feel special again, someone I might be tempted to rate high on some arbitrary, chauvinistic “locker room banter” scale.
But honor is better. Committing to honor and honoring commitment is elemental, both to a good marriage and to a civil society. Honor is cool. Honor is a sign of strength. Honor stands firm, knows how to say no, promotes understanding, demonstrates compassion, offers humility, deepens empathy, extends kindness, asks forgiveness, foregoes shallowness, and shuns haughtiness. Honor facilitates wisdom and calls out for deeper commitments to the people we love. I am honored to love my wife, and to be loved by her.
And we have been married now for thirty years.
Not that we have a perfect marriage. No one does. Yet almost every day my wife reminds me of the person that I want to be. On my good days, I believe I do the same for her. We honor each other. Our mutual imperfections offer hope, that on a bad day, the other one in the relationship can provide the support and stability necessary to keep going. We honor each other as we work to improve how we share life. And what a glad reward it is. What a gift God gives to us to have this opportunity and challenge. It is an honor to love another person, to respect them for all that they are, and to be honored and loved by them, imperfections and all.
Not long ago, we received a photograph in the mail. It was taken thirty-two years ago and was of the two of us on a crowded river boat on the Ohio River. The picture was of Beth and me looking at each other. It captured the very special moment when we had just met. But neither of us knew this photograph had been taken. The photographer, a friend of ours, had been going through old photos, found it among his memorabilia and was thoughtful enough to mail it to us.
We have it on our refrigerator now. Every morning I see it when fixing breakfast. I start the day remembering that shared fascination in our young faces. And I am reminded how thankful I am that we have stayed together all this time.
She is better now than she was then. And thanks to thirty years of marriage, so am I. What an honor.