This week, the topic for class was “Cherishing Your Spouse.” When I first saw that, I instantly thought of my grandparents.
Grandpa and Grandma are my #relationshipgoals (the new and hip way of saying my grandparent’s marriage is my heroic example of what I would someday treasure to have; the role-model couple.)
These two ,especially Grandpa, LIGHT UP when you ask them the story of how they met. Literally Grandpa tells it all the time, any open window of conversation.
So the story goes: Grandma was on a date at the skating rink with another guy. Grandpa saw her and points her out to his buddy. The friend says “Dang it O’dell! I’ve been trying to set you up with her for weeks!” Embarrassed he hadn’t taken the offer before, Grandpa responds, “Well if I would’ve known it was her I would’ve been all in.”
Grandpa (stubborn as ever and always determined to get what he wants) butts his way in on his ice skates and asks grandma on out a date… right then and there while she’s on a date. Talk about courage and confidence. Go Gramps!
“That poor guy I was skating with. He didn’t have a fighting chance.” Grandma says giggling, “the rest is history.”
This story alone is just one small reason I love these two. (P.S. you have to hear them tell it. It’s precious.) The way they love and care for each other is unbelievable. Grandpa is just as crazy about her as he was when he first saw her at the skating rink almost 60 years ago. I wish I could put into words the way he adores her.
Best friends. That’s what they are. They joke around and poke fun at each other all the time. Grandma loves teasing Grandpa, and he gives it right back. He knows what she orders at any restaurant, knows when to let her be because she’s not feeling well, and she knows how to deal with his stubborn ways.
He is so incredibly patient with her as she is constantly retelling stories, forgetting where she put things, or asking the same question 15 times in five minutes. He comes home from work at least once a day to check on “his Eva”, who is struggling with dementia. He adores her, and takes such good care of her.
In the reading this week, we learned about sacrifice, enhancing your “love maps”, and nurturing fondness and admiration for your spouse.
Obedience and Sacrifice: These two love the gospel of Jesus Christ. They take every opportunity they can to teach and testify. They live it every day as they show what Christ-like love and service means. Grandpa would give up anything for Grandma, and she would do the same for him. For example, she makes the Utah Jazz her love, because she knows he loves it so much, even if she’d rather be doing something else then watching a b-ball game. He takes time to help her with everyday tasks she can no longer do without complaining.
Love Maps: According to Dr. Gottman’s The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work, your “love map” is the part of your brain where you store information about your spouse. Things in your love map would be their background, likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams, fears, etc. Like I said before, these two are such an example of really knowing each other. They know each other’s moods and quirks. The backgrounds of each other, and how those affect each other are something they know. Grandma knows just what to say to him to lighten the mood (she is the repair attempt queen). Because they know each other so well, they are able to make things work. They know what is important to each other so that also helps them to know what sacrifices to make, and how to show each other love and admiration.
Nurturing Fondness and Admiration: Also in Dr. Gottman’s book, he discusses how important it is to really enjoy the company of your spouse, and to nurture that admiration and love for them. Grandma and Grandpa are always together. Like I said, he will leave work to come home and see her. If he’s at work, she’s talking about him non-stop. They love being with each other. Dr Gottman says that the way a couple reflects back on their relationship says a lot about their marriage. Seeing as how my grandparents delight in talking about their early days of dating and marriage, it’s no surprise their marriage is a happy one. Gottman talks about the importance of believing your spouse is worthy of honor and respect. The way that Grandpa talks about Grandma, saying that the two of them meeting and their marriage is a “miracle” is one example of how sacred and honorable he (and she) hold each other.
I have learned so much from these readings, and so much from watching the example of my grandparents. The way they talk to (and about) each other and the way they serve each other gives me a high goal of what I hope to someday have, be, and marry.
Cherishing your spouse is about loving them with Christ-like love. It’s loving with all your hear when you’re in your first years, struggling financially, and facing trials together- and even when your old, sick and forgetful. You willingly make sacrifices for your marriage. You continue to build your relationship with actions of love and kindness. You serve and lift each other. You make their needs your priority.