We were both shy of being 21, but only by months. It was January 2, 1978. I instantly regretted being talked into wearing a white suit because black is way more slimming. Besides, I look like I belong behind the wheel of a Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am instead of being at a marriage altar with that blonde.
You don't care about the details. You're here for the stories. So am I. And I'm not really in the business of telling love stories, but you know LTW began as a "legacy project" and this is a monumental part of my legacy - my marriage to a girl I started dating when we were both 18. That picture of us is day 3 of our dating. It was the summer - July 4th to be exact - of 1975. I was done. Smitten. By the way, that's a straw in my mouth. Again, I should have been wearing black, but it was a hot summer day in Oklahoma so I opted for lighter colors. A dumb, dumb choice!
As much as I'd like to make this about me - or us, this couple pictured above - I think I'll go on record for the umpteenth time to express my love of the girl I married, Rhonda. Then I'll veer into more general wisdom talk - talk of the power of a spouse, the value of marriage and how a man and a woman can benefit each other more and more over time through mutual commitment and love.
2018 was a challenging year for us, as it may have been for many of you. Some of you endured health hardships. Others financial burdens. Some experienced the dissolution of their marriage. Still, others got married. It's all that "one man's ceiling is another man's floor" thing.
I confess that 2018 was a ridiculously pivotal year in many ways for me professionally. I made some serious decisions to take my career in a new direction. I've talked about that at GrowGreat.com so you can always go check that out if you care. Making such a pivot isn't easy. But it's exciting.
Personally, Rhonda and I faced some personal challenges that we've never faced before. We're still standing together though, arm in arm and hand in hand. Because from the moment we began to date, we were committed to each other. After that first date, neither of us ever dated anybody else. From July 2, 1975, through yesterday, January 2, 2019, we've been a couple. Funny the wisdom you can exercise when you're just 17. It was clearly a decision I got right. Her? Well, that's quite debatable. If that girl pictured had known what she was in for, she may have made better choices. But I'm glad she committed. There hasn't been a day pass that I've not been devoted to earning her respect and making her happy. I don't succeed as often as I'd like, but my commitment is sure. I love her more today than I did in either of those pictures and that's saying something because I was very in love in both of those photos.
We're weathered and worn today, but life does that. We know so much more. We've seen so much more. Wisdom has never been deeper for us, often coming at a price we'd preferred not to pay. Such is life.
The Power Of A Spouse
Through the years I've sat down with many couples asking me to help them sort through a variety of problems. As a leader in a local church, it just goes with the role. Knowledge, wisdom and experience have taught me the power of a spouse, but I can't speak of it (or even think of it) without recognizing the biggest reason marriages struggle.
Nothing disrupts the power of two people enjoined together as husband and wife more. Nothing.
It's the corruption behind every betrayal and disturbance. Selfishness. Self-centeredness. Self-absorption.
The power of a spouse is the power to put the needs, desires and wants of another person ahead of your own.
Nothing everybody is willing to do that. Or to sustain it over the long haul. The power of a spouse is evidence of the power of selflessness. Self-LESS-ness.
There's nothing nearly as rewarding as I've found as putting the needs of somebody else before my own, but it doesn't feel like that to me.