Monday, September 30, 2013

Sanctify Your Marriage

Sanctify Your Marriage

Sept 29, 2013

I was with some married friends the other day, and while I rode alone in the back seat of the car I listened to their conversation...

There was a disagreement about where we would go to eat.

As I listened like a fly on the wall, I just wanted to sink into the seat and disappear.  It absolutely kills me to listen to a couple treat each other like that now.  

Scott and I were pretty good about stuff like that, we valued being together more that what we were doing.  If we knew something was important to the other person, we generally went along with their suggestion.  Scott had a great ability to put himself second and me first. 

I remember during our usual Sunday night walk Scott telling me about a conversation in church with several other men.  He was listening to a younger man who was talking about standing his ground when he knew he was right.  My husband’s comment was, 
“It’s not about who’s right or who’s wrong.  It’s about making your wife happy.  If you do something or say something that makes her unhappy or makes her feel less about herself, then you are wrong and you have failed in your duty.”
It was a pretty bold statement, but Scott felt pretty strongly about the importance of treating your wife like she was the most important thing in the world.  It killed him to see men hurt their wives through criticism, selfishness, or laziness.  He often stood up for women and would make the effort to befriend men who he thought might benefit from his example.

When Scott was a resident he worked about 120 hours a week.  You can do the math and realize that leaves 48 hours a week to sleep and for free time.  That is 6.8 hours a day. He did this for 3 years.  Of those 6.8 hours he probably slept 4.  The other 3 he spent doing whatever he could to help the kids and I.  

Why would someone keep a schedule like this?  

Scott wanted to provide me with a more comfortable life.  
He had seen me struggle through college,medical school, and our first year of residency. He wanted to be able to take me on a trip...just the two of us. He wanted to be able to take me out and pay for a babysitter every weekend.  He wanted to have me drive a safer car.  
Although I was not asking for these things, he wanted to do things to make my life easier.

  He wanted to take care of me.  

It wasn’t just monitary things because Scott also sacrificed a lot of sleep.  He came home after a 48 hour shift and instead of going to bed he wrestled and read to his kids, and stayed up to talk to me.  We were a priority over his physical fatigue.

Scott always lifted me through compliments and attention.  It never matter what I looked like, Scott told me I was beautiful and wonderful several times a day.  He called or texted numerous times a day just to tell me he was thinking about me, couldn’t wait to see me at lunch, just missed me like crazy. 

He didn’t just say it... 
I could see in his eyes that he meant it.  
I think that’s one of the things I miss the most.  

When I walked in the room I commanded 100% of his attention and the look that he gave me told me I was special.  I felt special with him, and that gave me so much confidence, and the ability to be more than I was.  

I don’t think men understand
 how they empower women (wives and daughters)
 by treating them like queens.  

I’m not saying that you should blindly spoil them, but when you build them up, you can undo a lot of the tearing down that the world does to us and that we do to ourselves.  

When Scott died, I was able to read his journal, and how sweet it was to me to find out that his verbal sentiments were also the ones he wrote privately in his journal.  As I read his journal, I am struck by the fact that there is not a single negative comment or complaint about me written in there.  That is not because I didn’t deserve some of those, but because Scott made it a point to not every say or write them.  I honestly do not remember my husband ever putting me down.  The worse thing he ever said to me was about me needing to relax more and be less stressed.

My son Alex shared a story his dad had told him once when they were discussing dealing with women.  I think it was after I had been particularly emotional and Alex was asking his dad, 
How do you deal with mom?”  
I think Alex clearly thought his dad was the victim in the situation. Scott told him,
 “We had an argument early on in our marriage.  I knew I was right, but I was pretty hard on your mom through my comments.  I hurt her feelings, and she began to cry.  As I watched your mother cry, I decided I never wanted to be right again.
I also wanted to include this excerpt that he wrote in his journal after his Grandfather’s funeral.  I think it epitomizes the way that a husband should feel about his wife.  I know that Scott’s grandpa had a big impact on his thought about this.

4-7-2012: “Many people had been touched by watching the care that Grandpa gave Grandma during the last few years of her life.  He always responded to compliments on that subject by saying. “I was doing exactly what I wanted to do.”
I do not write this to make people think we had the perfect marriage.  That we never disagreed or that we never got irritated with each other, because that was not true (especially more on my part.)
But we did not say hurtful things to one another.  
Those are not easily erased. 

  • We always communicated when one of us felt unfairly treated, and we were both humble enough to take the corrections and make changes in our individually behavior in order to make the other person happy.  
  • We always told each other we were sorry and we never went to bed angry.  
  • We knew we were in this for the long haul and that every problem we had needed to be addressed and fixed.  
  • We talked a lot about how to make each other happier and we tried to focus our relationship on that key point- Making the other person happy and worrying less about ourselves.  

The funny thing is, the more you make your spouse happy, the more they do kind things back to you.  The more you give the more you receive.

When Scott died, I went through icloud and downloaded the information that he had on his ipad.  I came across a recently list entitled “Things to do to make Veronica happy.” On it was a list of grievances from our last “improve our relationship talk.”  How sweet it was to me to see that he had taken everything to heart and had given up things he enjoyed to make me happy.  Here is the list:

  1. Listen better
  2. Go for walks every night
  3. Don't be irritated
  4. Respond more quickly when I am told to change
  5. No TV at night
  6. No iPad at night
  7. Send texts
  8. Don't leave her stranded
  9. Sell the house and move to a smaller lot

I think how much better all of our marriages would be if we would take the time to have those conversations, write down what we need to change and start working on those things. 

As I sat in the back seat of that car, I wanted to say… 
“One day one of you is going to die, and you will feel horrible for how you treat each other.”  
As I look back on our relationship...I have personal regrets.  

  • I know I could have been more patient and less irritated.  
  • I know there are things I could have done to be easier to live with.  

When a spouse dies purification comes about in your relationship.

I can say that I love my husband more deeply that I ever have.  I thought that everything would just be on hold until we were together again, but I have found that I can still improve my relationship with Scott even though he is on the other side.  Those petty things that used to bother me are gone now, and all I see and remember is the good.  

I have apologized to him for the things I should have done better,
 and I feel sanctification in that.  

I have an inner resolve to be a better person...  
to practice those things so that I can be a better wife when we are reunited.  

If I ever decide to remarry, I see a second marriage as a laboratory for that practice, a chance for me to learn how to love more unconditionally so that I can better love Scott.

So independent of where you are individually... whether you are married or single as the result of a death, divorce, or never having been married,  we can each work on ourselves.  We can work on loving others more purely, more like the Savior.  His love was unconditional, and I think that in order to be like Him someday we have to learn to love each other in that way.  
“Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  
Scott in a way laid down his life for me, so that I could better understand this concept of unconditional love.  I know when we meet again that I will wrap my arms around him and thank him for the wonderful example he set for me.

Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.”                       ― Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember

Here is the story of that Men's Meeting from the perspective of one of the men in that class:

Scott started by speaking in general terms about how providing for our families and keeping our wives happy are our most important jobs as husbands. He then started focusing on more specific examples of how we can keep our wives happy. One of the examples he gave was something to the effect that our wives are always right, even when they aren't. 

After Scott made the comment that our wives are always right, one of the guys (I can't recall who, sorry) asked what if you know you are right? In my recollection, Scott answered by saying something to the effect of: if you upset your wife, it doesn't matter if you are right because you have failed. Scott went on to share a story, I think about the two of you when you were younger. He talked about how you guys were disagreeing about something and he just knew he was right and let you know it. At this point, got a little choked up and talked about how upset and hurt you were by this exchange. He said it was at that point he realized he was wrong, not about the subject matter but because you were unhappy. He then tied his thoughts together by emphasizing that even if we are right about something if our assertation of our position and presentation hurt our wives or make them unhappy, we are the ones that are wrong because we have failed in our duty to make our wives happy.

I don't remember anything else about the lesson. To me, the above sequence was the important part of the lesson. I have always agreed with Scott and his belief that a husband's primary duties are to provide for his family and keep his wife happy. However, I had never thought of it the context of when I am having a disagreement with my wife, not that Rachael and I ever disagree.  This lesson really highlighted that the duty to keep my wife happy touches all areas, even when times are bad. The fact that a man that was held in such high regard in his profession and the community would recognize the importance of being humble and swallowing one's pride to make his wife happy really hit home. This lesson inspired me to try harder to make my wife happy but not just in the obvious ways, like helping with the kids and doing nice things for her. Rather, it inspired me to always try and put her feelings above my feeling and, even more difficult, above my pride. I haven't always succeed but when I have, things are a whole lot better than when I don't. I have really learned and come to understand what Scott meant when he taught: if your wife is unhappy, it doesn't matter if you are right because you are wrong and you have failed as a husband.


  1. Great post, Veronica! It's so easy to take our spouses for granted! I really hope you get this blog bound into a book - your future posterity will cherish it and learn so much!

  2. It's so nice to get a glimpse of how wonderful your husband is. Thanks for sharing your experiences and your insight!