Today Elmer and I have been married 42 years, what began in my parents front yard on a Friday evening continues. We have grown together, laughed together, cried together and always blessed by God together. We have 5 kind and talented children, of whom we could not be more proud. We have two beautiful daughters-in-law, of whom we are so thankful to have in our family. Nine grandchildren, grand says it all.
When I’m asked to give a word of advice to a new bride, my mind always goes to this scripture, it has helped me many times.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
From Robert Fulghum’s Maybe (Maybe Not), Second thoughts from a Secret Life
One of the wisest men I know, Alexander Papaderos, is the director of the Orthodox Academy of Crete. Unfortunately for me, he lives ten time zones and thousands of miles away from Seattle. Even when we are together, we are separated by the subtleties of language. His English is far better than my Greek, but we both are seriously limited by lack of common cultural experience. We get by in English on most mundane topics, but when we reach for deeper understandings, we must be careful, lest we assume we are communicating when in fact we are not. (Now you can see this is an essay on marriage-me)
As 1992 became 1993, we spent the New Year holidays together. For all the romantic images a summer trip to Greece may suggest, the island of Crete in winter is a cold, windy, rainy place. A time to sit indoors by an olive-wood fire, drink raki and retsina, eat pork sausage with fresh bread soaked in new-pressed olive oil, and talk late into the night of weighty matters.
One evening we spoke of marriage.
In Crete the custom of arranged marriage continues. Even when a marriage is not initiated by a family, the wisdom of family experience is brought to bear in a way Americans would find anachronistic.
The Cretans think romance is nice enough when it happens, but it is not a particularly good basis for marriage.
Papaderous had stumbled over a concept he had found in Western literature. “Making love.” It confused him. “What is this making love?”
I explained that it was a popular euphemism for having sex—going to bed, getting laid—whether married or not.
He replied that for Cretans, “making love” is a serous notion summarizing the process of marriage and family. When two families agree that a son and a daughter would suit one another, it is expected that over time the man and woman will work at becoming compatible partners in the same spirit one might work at achieving competence in a life’s vocation. This is making love.
Time and experience—mistakes and difficulties—are all part of the equation whose sum is a lasting relationship. Love is not something you fall in to. Love and marriage are “made”.
Thus, in Cretan terms, when a married couple have been overheard arguing or fighting, the Cretans smile knowingly and say, “Ah, they are making love.”
(Fulghum continues for three more pages and ends with this;)
When the dinner was over, the old lady went into the kitchen, insisting on helping with the dishes. She came to the kitchen door with a bag of garbage and barked at her husband of sixty years. He groaned up out of his chair to do his duty, and she barked at him some more and he groaned back some more.
“What’s going on?” I asked Papaderous.
“It seems her husband did not eat all of his salad and was singing off key,” he explained. “They are still making love—it takes forever.”
Thank you, Elmer, for continuing to “make love” with me. Xo
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
Trust God for your Day, Today.