This month the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly celebrate 35 years of what we like to call a romantic ramble through life. Thirty-five years ago this month, we became engaged and our lives took a change for what I believe is the better.
Although no expert on romance, I have observed several important things about romance. For example, romance goes through stages much like a stagecoach ride. It takes a lot of horsepower to get going, the ride is usually rough and it never arrives on schedule.
For someone who likes to have a firm grip on his schedule this has been most trying for me. Just when I think I have everything figured out, my better half reveals a side I have never seen before, and there goes my beloved schedule. I can’t remember how many times I have gone back to the drawing board to start all over again.
This points out a very specific difference between men and women, specifically husbands and wives. Husbands age, while wives evolve.
Men have mastered the fine art of growing old. Women, on the other hand, have mastered the art of reinventing themselves every 10 years. I don’t claim to understand this; I just accept it as a fact of life.
I can honestly say my wife is not the woman I met 35 years ago, and it’s not just because I can’t remember the original color of her hair.
In looking back over these 35 years, (which amounts to 245 dog years — a long time in anybody’s book) I have noticed romance runs the gamut from the “honeymoon” to the “Honey-do.” The more fun you have on the honeymoon, the longer the honey-do list is. Unfortunately, the new groom does not understand this marital phenomenon.
When a groom says, “I do,” at the altar he has no idea of the definition of that little word “do.”
It only takes a few short years, or long years, depending on your point of view, for the young groom to realize that his definition of “to do,” and his Beloved’s are worlds apart. Perhaps as far as Venus is from Mars.
The key to every husband’s successful aging process will be acclimating to his wife’s definition. It may not be right and it may not be logical from a man’s point of view, but it will go a long way toward a long and happy life.
Fathers pass on to their sons the love of sports and the fine art of grilling in the back yard, without burning down the house. Mothers, on the other hand, pass on to their daughters the craft of developing and maintaining a good “honey-do” list. It’s all a matter of priority.
For the last seven years of our married life, my wife and I have invaded the stage some refer to as the “empty nest.” Of all the stages associated with romance, this is perhaps the best.
If parents live long enough they eventually arrive at this coveted stage. Perhaps the most dramatic aspect of this stage is rediscovering your identity apart from children.
Some people don’t realize when they reached this stage. Let me give a little hand to help in this evaluation.
If the house is quiet, the phone isn’t ringing and the refrigerator is full, you may have arrived at the empty nest stage.
If the phone rings and it’s for you, you may have arrived at the empty nest stage.
If you look into your wallet and find a $20 bill that has been there for more than a week, you may have arrived at the empty nest stage.
If the TV is on but not to the cartoon channel, you may have arrived at the empty nest stage.
Life is funny. Just when you get accustomed to the noise of children running around the house, they grow up and leave you and the missus in quietness, and then you start losing your hearing.
I will admit the child-rearing stage is by far the most exciting. Children have a way of bringing all kinds of adventure not to mention clatter into a formerly peaceful and quiet home. I can remember when we were raising children there was never a dull moment and little time left for extracurricular activities like romance.
Thinking about this, it begs the question, where do children really come from and how? Especially after the first child is born.
When the children were all at home, time for romance was usually relegated to when we both were dead tired, and the most romantic thing we could think of was going to bed for much-needed sleep. A natural birth control method when you think about it.
Now that the children are grown and my wife and I have entered the empty nest stage, we can find loads of time for romance. The problem is we just can’t find the energy these days. We invested all our energy in raising and chasing children. God gives a person just so much energy and most parents blow it all in chasing children.
Wise is the husband and wife who save energy for this “empty nest” stage of life.
Curiously, the Bible is in favor of romance. “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33 KJV.)
Romance is a beautiful concert of love and reverence.