I’m sitting at the coffee shop working and the couple beside me are probably in their 70s. They are lounging with a stack of newspapers on a chair in front of them. They read one, grab another, and chat back and forth.
Their conversation and exchanges are flawless and smooth. There’s no haste, hate, or bitterness. Just the beauty of a well oiled machine that has been running for decades.
WITNESS OF A DEEP LOVE
As I’m sitting here I realize how rare this is to witness these days. One of my favorite hobbies is people watching (in fact, that’s how I ended up here – after a hard afternoon my husband sent me here and told me to go people watch and work a bit). In my self-proclaimed-quasi-professional-people-watching hobby, I’ve seen new couples awkwardly have dinner or order ice cream together (the girl adjusts her hair when the boy looks away, the boy nervously taps his wallet waiting to pay). I’ve seen people I know meet up for coffee were having an affair (sad, but true). And I’ve witnessed couples fight and families yell at each other at dinner. But a couple like this? Totally new to me and totally beautiful.
And it has me thinking, this is why I choose to love my husband each day even when it is hard. I want this. This is my goal. The work is like a mechanic taking care of a sturdy engine. Tune ups don’t mean it’s broken, just that with enough care, it might run for years and years to come. I can choose to walk away when things get shaky, looking for something newer and flashier. Or, I can bring our relationship to the Divine Healer and regularly care for it so it is sturdy, reliable, practically unbreakable.
The couple starts to get up to leave and I stand to thank them. I tell them how good it is for me, a young married person not even a decade into it, to see such a strong example. The woman has pure delight in her eyes, and says she needs to hug me. (No! I need to hug her!) I say again how their example is so rare and how much I could tell their love runs deep. We talk for several minutes and the interaction is even more convincing of their commitment and love than my previous observations. They are light-hearted and work as a team, with a lot of jokes and plenty of patience.
The gentleman asks what my husband and I do, and is happy to hear we have children. Then he gives me what I think is some of the most simple and straightforward marriage advice I’ve ever gotten.
He shares they’ve been married for over 50 years and this is what he is eager to tell me is the secret:
“We have a sense of humor! And there is respect…” (His wife begins to cut him off to share something – he leans over with one ear closer and begs a repeat then laughs it off.) Ah! That’s the other secret. We can’t hear each other!”
Finally, they have to get on their way and I’m better off having stopped them to chat. The last few exchanges reveal that the woman is Catholic and she wants to be sure I’m raising my boys in the Faith. She is delighted to know that I am – she raised three of her own children she tells me. Then she jokes that in 44 years, we can meet here again and my husband and I will be as strong as they are.
As I sit here writing and reflecting, I realize it was a divine encounter. I walked in to the coffee shop frustrated at home, needing a break. I had a hard week and was less than loving to my husband. As I crossed the parking lot I regretted the harsh words I had said to him earlier in the week and felt defeated.
When I walked in, it was unusually busy and I couldn’t sit at my usual table, putting me right next to this couple. Being able to witness their love and talk with them was exactly what I needed at this moment today. A beautiful reminder that marriage is worth fighting for even when things seem difficult.
So, my friends, in honor of this beautiful couple, close this article and grab a stack of newspapers and enjoy your marriage. Keep up good humor when things are hard, give your spouse respect at all times, and work on the hearing bonus as you age 😉 And most importantly, love your spouse and your family at all times, you never know who is watching and being converted in the process by your example. Oh, and pray for this couple. Maybe someday when we are all in heaven, we can laugh together at how a stack of newspapers at a coffee shop made saints by reminding people to love and to choose their marriage daily.