Fifty years ago, the week before I married my husband, I went to his house to move in and stock groceries. I’d never been inside before. My heart swelled with pride when I used my new key to open the back door of the little two-bedroom house where Bill lived as a single father of two toddlers for nearly three years. I smiled at the cute dishes in the drain and mushroom cannisters on the counter. With the children in daycare and Bill at work, I had some time to myself. Bill would be here in an hour for lunch, but before I put away the groceries and prepared lunch, I wanted to explore the rest of the house. I delighted in the idea of being a wife and mother. A homemaker. Until this time, I’d always lived with my parents. Now, Bill’s little home would be mine too. And his adorable red-headed children would also be mine. A ready-made family at eighteen years old. I was ecstatic.

I carried in the few groceries I’d brought and opened the apartment sized refrigerator. At once, I saw a thick, green stem growing up the back wall of the fridge all the way to the freezer. It originated in the crisper where a lone white onion thrived. On the top shelf sat a near empty milk carton and a six pack of beer.  Since we had agreed to no alcohol in our house. I emptied the beer down the drain and threw away the bottles as well as the empty milk jug and flourishing onion. I washed down the shelves and added the fresh milk and eggs, fruit, and vegetables. Then after sweeping up the broken crayons and cereal from under the table, I started lunch.

These were simple gestures on my part, however, they were an embarrassing and painful lesson in thoughtfulness. I had acted on my own perception of old crayons and an onion I thought passed its prime.  I assumed it would be okay to throw them away, but I discovered the onion was Bill’s project. He wanted to see how long the onion would live. And the message I gave when tossing the beer was an invasion of his right to throw it out himself. The crayons I had thrown away had been given to the children by their mother. I explained my intentions to replace them with new ones but was quickly reminded by my new four-year-old daughter that they weren’t mine to throw away. This had been their home, and in my excitement to make it mine, I hadn’t considered how my actions might affect my new family. I had yet to earn the children’s trust. I had crossed the boundaries too soon.

Bill was quick to my defense and kind. He understood my exuberance and patiently helped me win the children’s trust. We bought new crayons and started growing another onion. Through the years the beer became an inside joke, but I learned to let Bill have space and time to make his own decisions, to grow his own onion.

I could fill volumes with the mistakes I’ve made throughout the fifty years of my marriage. Bill and I both have made mistakes and agree ours is not the greatest example of what to do or not do as much as it is how to survive and thrive through the mistakes. Ours is simply an example of true love.

When all else fails, love never fails. Learning the deeper meaning of the word, brings you to unconditional love. When everything seems to be going wrong, remember the scripture in I Corinthians 13:8 that promises “love never fails”. Turn to that deeper meaning when life and relationships are a struggle.

Here are a few lessons we learned:

  1. Be thoughtful
  2. Respect personal space and decisions
  3. Be Kind, gentle with one another’s feelings
  4. True love forgives
  5. Remember it’s not all about you anymore

Today, blended families are common. Getting to know the children and even the “Ex” is important. We learn to live a different way when we share space and time with someone else. Take time to see life from their angle. Try to see the reason for their frustrations. Recognize when they are tired and consider why they may be short tempered. Learn how they cope, how they manage hurt feelings and disappointments. A family sees each other at their worst—the mess ups, the egg on our face. They see our ugly-laugh and really, ugly-cry, but we love each other anyway. Love never fails.

Stay tuned as we continue to explore fifty ways to keep your love going strong for fifty years. If you have a story of your own to share, or an opinion on this story, please leave a comment in the space below. I’d love to hear from you.

Remember, wherever you are, you are at the right place when you come to my website and read my blog. Come on back and share a slice of life with me.

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