It has been a long time since I wrote an article of a personal or spiritual nature for publication. However, I recently ran across an interesting article, Learning Love is a Choice Kept Me From Ruining My Relationship, that resonated with me. It pointed to a previous article, Forget About Feelings, Real Love Is A Deliberate Choice, which confirmed that feeling. These articles discussed a concept that I have based my marriage on, but never quite put into words.
Mary loves to tell the story about how we met and got married.
In 1970, I was part of the crew of the USS Jouett (DLG-29). We sailed from our home port in San Diego, California to Bath, Maine for a temporary decommissioning. She was going to be converted to a guided missile cruiser (CG-29). I returned to San Diego to visit with my family in El Cajon, California, prior to reporting to my new assignment at the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California. I was going there to study Vietnamese in preparation for my tour as a Naval Advisory in South Vietnam.
I was scheduled to depart from home on a Friday after my parents left to take their recreation trailer out into the desert for the weekend with a bunch of friends. However, I had ordered a new pair of glasses that didn’t show up as scheduled. Therefore, I needed to stick around for the weekend.
That delay changed my life. I decided to join my parents in the desert and that is where I met my wife to be. She was there with her family. When I drove in, she turned to a neighbor and said, “That is the guy I am going to marry.”
Before I finally left for Monterrey, I had proposed and she had accepted. We were married six months later, to allow us to be together before I left for Vietnam. My to decision to propose was not based on emotion as much as faith and choice. I knew when I made the decision to marry that it included a decision to make it work. The marriage vow is a promise, a commitment, a choice:
I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
These are choices, decisions, that you agree to follow. You should not marry unless you are committed to making those choices and to follow through “in good times and in bad”.
Mary and I have been married for over four decades. During that time, we’ve often, sometimes jokingly, measured our marriage in weeks. I will often give her a hug and say, “You’re a good kid. I think I’ll keep you another week.” This evolved from some decision points, early in our marriage, where the stress levels were high enough that one of us was tempted to give up, run away. (More often than not, that person was me.) I would look at the circumstances, remember my choices and proclaim that I would carry on for one more week. You will be amazed by how many high-stress problems get resolved after only one week.
I have never regretted my “choice to marry” and rejoice that I had the wisdom to stick it out, during those problem times, for “one more week”. After all, Mary truly is “a good kid” and I will gladly continue to hang out with her.
PS: This post was originally written in 2011. I just discovered it in my Drafts folder and did not change anything except a few typos. Eight years later, after retiring and moving to a different city, nothing has changed. She is still “a good kid” and I will definitely keep her “one more week”.