Five years ago, I was at a wedding rehearsal dinner and I was seated next to Lula Rawls, a quiet, elderly woman who had been married for over sixty years. She was the grandmother of the groom; and in light of all the hopefulness surrounding the young couple’s nuptials, I wondered what wisdom she had to offer.
I began asking questions about the relationship with George, her husband, who was even quieter than she was. When Lula talked about him, it was evident that she greatly cared for and respected him. And in light of how long they had been together (it has now been 67 years), I asked for her best piece of marriage advice.
She paused, then said, “You’ve got to remember that one of you will always be loving more.”
I sat there for a moment, letting the statement sink in: One of you will always be loving more.
Seven years into marriage, Lula’s quiet response is still ringing in my ears. It crushes my sense of entitlement, the expectation that marriage owes me a low-grade sense of happiness most of the time. It challenges my internal policy of only extending love when it is extended, withholding love when it is withheld. Lula’s words capture the spirit of 1 Corinthians 13:5, 7-8: “[Love] does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful . . . Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
It doesn’t come naturally for this sometimes hardheaded, selfish husband; but if I want to make it to 67 years as happily as Lula and George have, I’ll practice what that lady is preaching.