Love for the Long Haul

Our first February as a married couple, Randy had one rose a day delivered to my desk in the newsroom during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.

More than two decades and a whole lot of life later, he accidentally did something decidedly less romantic the week before Feb. 14.

“Put lotion on and forgot to put my ring back on!” he texted me one morning. “Feels naked.”

Dry hands, bouts of forgetfulness and the feeling that something is missing when your wedding ring isn’t on. That’s what love looks like after almost 23 years of marriage.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Twenty-three years doesn’t sound like much when you consider there are people in this world who have been married for 75 or 80 years. But it seems like a long time when you realize you’ve almost reached the point where you’ve been married longer than you were single.

There are a lot of happy memories wrapped up in those years, along with some seasons you’d probably rather forget. Every bit of it has made you what you are, though, so if you had to eliminate any of it, how would you even know which piece to pick?

It’s not just that you’ve weathered the storms together, you’ve weathered the rest of the weather together too. Hot and dry. Cold and rainy. Foggy and dreary. Muggy and oppressive. Snowy and blustery.

In retrospect, you’ve lived a forecast that you never could have predicted—and possibly never would have chosen, if it had been up to you.

But it wasn’t.

As “in love” as you thought you were, you didn’t really know what you were saying when you took those vows all those years ago. For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. Who can envision what all that will include, and how it will change you?

But there was one vow you understood—the “as long as we both shall live” part. The part that means no matter what, no matter how you happen to feel on any given day or any particular hour of that day, you’re stuck with each other.

Fused at the molecular level, if you will.

Yes, that bond could be broken, but not without devastating consequences. So, come rain or shine, you keep moving forward, hand tucked securely in hand.

At the moment, you’re smack-dab in the middle of the sandwich-generation years. Being on call for your elderly parents while helping your children navigate the ups and downs of adolescence can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. It doesn’t leave a lot of energy for love poems and hot dates, Valentine’s Day or not.

What it does leave room for is inside jokes and 20-second hugs. For reading side by side on the living-room loveseat. For eating supper in the cozy dining room instead of the cluttered kitchen. For HGTV or Velocity on Friday nights. For Saturday afternoon naps and Sunday afternoon “coffee drives.”

These activities may not rank high on the Richter scale of marital excitement, but they’re keeping the bonds strong and flexible until it’s just the two of you again. Which it will be, before you know it.

Here’s the thing. It’s easy to look at couples who are much further down the road and say things like, “When we’re that age, I hope you don’t …” or “When we get to that stage of life, I hope you take care of me just like …”

You can learn from what you observe, but the truth is, you just never know what’s going to happen. You don’t go around planning for the things that sometimes slam you against the wall or sneak up on you when you’re focused on what’s right in front of you.

But when they happen (as they inevitably will), you know what you have to do. You lean toward each other, not away, because that is what you promised to do so long ago, back when you had no idea what you were promising.

You didn’t know, but the God who brought you together all those years ago? He knew.

And He’ll be the One holding you together in the future. Even when you forget to wear your wedding ring.

P.S. I’m linking up this week with the RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, #HeartEncourgementThursday, #livefreeThursday, Fresh Market Friday and Grace & Truth.

38 Responses to Love for the Long Haul

  1. Wow, Lois, what a wonderful post! It is so true how the everyday times together really do serve as a special glue that can keep us together. My husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage, and we are so glad we finally made it to the double digits! 🙂 It’s the sweet words of wisdom from you and so many other sisters in Christ I can look up to for encouragement and motivation to continue to love for the long haul! Thanks for sharing the beautiful relationship you have with your husband! So glad to be visiting from #FreshMarketFriday!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Welcome to double digits, Christin! Ten years is a lot of life, any way you look at it! Here’s to many more decades of everyday love … for you and me. 🙂 So glad you stopped by today.

  2. Lisa notes says:

    Aw, I love that text from your husband. True love right there. 🙂 My husband and I will reach 25 years this September and it does seem like a milestone to me as well, even though there are many people who have been married much longer. So many memories in that amount of time. Congrats to you and your husband for 23 years.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Yeah, Lisa … I was all set to give Randy the what-for about forgetting his ring (in the nicest way possible, of course) when I got that text! It made me smile all day long. 🙂 I know what you mean about the memories … some of them one of us has already forgotten, and it takes the other to resurrect it for us! 🙂

  3. Kay says:

    Lois, I’m so glad I dropped by. I LOVE your post.My husband and I just celebrated 29 years in January. And truly, our relationship has grown sweeter in recent years. There’s just something to be said for endurance in marriage. There is a reward. Thanks for encouraging women to hang in there through your own testimony of true love!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m glad you stopped by too, Kay. Thank you for your kind words and congrats on 29 years with your man … it’s encouraging to know these relationships can continue to get sweeter as the years go by. 🙂

  4. Brenda says:

    Awe, what a sweet love story. 🙂 — And, so true that we had no idea what we were promising back then. Glad God knew so His grace would abound as we matured. 🙂 — This year we’ll celebrate our 25th anniversary — what? Crazy. — Sweet valentine post, Lois. Love your writing style. 🙂 — I hope you got the gift. ?? I worried all that snow going around the country last week might hold up mail delivery. It was supposed to get to you last Friday, hope it did! 🙂 — Thanks for sharing your beautiful words with #ChasingCommunity, Lois. xoxo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Hi Brenda … thank you for your sweet encouragement! Twenty-five years? Good for you guys! (Although you are much too young to be celebrating that kind of milestone.) 🙂 Yes, I did get the book and will be sending you a proper thank-you note soon. It’s a good read so far … much to ponder, that’s for sure! Hugs, friend!

  5. My husband would say something similar. 🙂 I can’t imagine life without him, even on the hard days.

  6. Sherry Stahl says:

    Love is a beautiful thing ?
    From the #RaRaLinkup
    ~Sherry Stahl

  7. I love this post – I think I say that every single time I visit you, but it’s true. Your words – oh, just so good! Your reflection on the beauty of a seasoned relationship, consistency, and just doing life together are just so good. I think it’s this pace of marriage that so many long for – someone to do life beside. It’s what I treasure most after 18 years. Just beautiful, friend.

    PS. I tweeted this if you follow that stuff. 🙂

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks so much, Tiffany. I guess our words were speaking to each other this week, because I loved your post too. Yes … someone to do life beside is a good way to put it. I treasure that too. Hugs, friend!

  8. Awww, Lois, another beautiful post. The truths you share, the glimpses you offer of lasting love. It truly is a one-day, one-moment at a time journey. It’s a leaning into God and into each other when life’s storms hit hard and ferocious.

    We’re coming up on 21 years married, and I wouldn’t change one. single. thing.

  9. Trudy says:

    I love how you bring out that love is a commitment, Lois. Yes, through rain or shine, hand securely tucked in hand. Even when unexpected things slam us up against the wall. Thank you for sharing this with us! Love and hugs!

  10. Tammy Winter Sheetz says:

    Hello friend! I usually have a lot of thoughts after reading your blogs, but just never take the time to reply, but I’m taking the time today, especially since my husband of 20.5 years worked a 12 hour shift today AND brought me and our daughter gifts.

    A lot of news programs/talk shows have segments on people who have been married a long time and their “secret” to a long marriage. So far the best secret I’ve heard so far is that when there are bad times, you CHOOSE your marriage. I think I can safely assume most of us couples grow apart in a way. It takes perseverance to keep up the communication and there have been rough times in our marriage where we didn’t really want to be around each other. Something I don’t admit to very many people, but through it all, we’ve always had each other’s back and we’ve always chosen each other. I can safely and 100% say that my husband is the one person I can tell anything to and there is no judgement, no punishment, just love and a team member with whom to walk through life.

    We just added little Brooke last year to our “team”, so it’s the three of us for life!

    I love you and miss you Lois and thank you for starting to write again. It means a lot to me and other college friends as well as other friends you’ve met along the way and even some complete strangers. I think of you and pray for you often!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Hi Tammy! It was great to hear from you … I’m really glad you took time to write this week. I think you’re right about choosing your marriage … even when you hit a rough patch or have no energy for much of anything. I’m so glad you’ve found this with your husband … I can’t believe it’s been more than 20 years for you guys! I hope you are enjoying motherhood too … little girls are the best, aren’t they? Love and hugs back to you!

  11. Leslie says:

    Lots of marriage wisdom here, Lois. Thank you for sharing! Thanks for reminding us that all our marriages will look different and that it’s the little things that mean so much!

  12. Beautiful post! 🙂

    My husband and I shared our first kiss on Valentines Day and here we are 36 years later and the thrill of my Valentine’s Day is the annual valentine cupcake he always gets me from the hospital cafeteria where he works. 🙂

    You are so right that our seasons as a couple look different, but the bond indeed grows stronger.

    Great encouragement here.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh Karen … I love traditions like that! What kind of cupcake does your husband bring you (or does it change every year)? Thanks for your kind words today, and a very happy Valentine’s Day to you and your sweet husband!

  13. So relieved to put away the Richter scale and just let love grow in it’s own sweet way. We’re in for almost 27 years, and our nest is empty-ing, so there are adjustments ahead, but I’m thankful to be adjusting with the guy God gave to me.

  14. Lesley says:

    What a lovely post! So true that we can never predict what lies ahead but making that commitment is so important. Hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Lesley! I was so excited to see your comment in the regular comment section! (I guess the Askimet guy was able to solve the puzzle, huh?) Yes, I think you’re right … gushy feelings and warm memories are wonderful, but commitment is what makes it work long term!

  15. Lois, I love this!! What a sweet example of lasting love and the fusing that happens in marriage. Wow- more years married than not. What a precious milestone. Thanks for the smile today!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Aw … thanks, Bethany! When we were probably around your age, we had a Sunday school teacher who used to joke that he and his wife had been married for 13 l-o-o-o-o-n-n-n-g years. Back then, that did seem like a long time; now not so much. 🙂

  16. Lois,
    What a wonderful commitment, through thick and thin! But I smiled thinking about the rose on your newsroom desk! 23 years is a great accomplishment — I admire your dedication and resolve to weather the storms! xo

  17. Linda Stoll says:

    ‘you’ve lived a forecast that you never could have predicted’

    41 years later I absolutely agree.

    and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

    happy happy valentines to you and your family, friend …

  18. Marilyn Horn says:

    Thank you for this post that so clearly describes love. After 53 years we still snuggle close and truly enjoy each other. Thankful the Lord has been our guide and the anchor of our relationship. Love to you, Randy and girls. Happy Valentines Day.

  19. Liz says:

    So sweet! We will celebrate 13 years next month. Congratulations to you!

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