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For Your Marriage

Dennis and Mary Jo Weiss have been married for more than 30 years. They write about a shared love of nature, prayer, and their children and grandchildren from their home in Hamburg, New York.

Words of Love

Last month Mary Jo wrote about the power that words have to affect us at a deep level when they are spoken from the heart.

That was a good reminder to me that our words, whether received or spoken, can have a profound impact. They can touch something deep within us, and either offer positive encouragement or cause deep hurts. So I thought I would follow-up with my own thoughts on this topic and reflect on how words spoken by others, particularly the one I love the most, can affect me. Perhaps some of the men out there reading this can relate to these words also.

“You did a great job”

I must admit that I do like to hear Mary Jo say these words, especially following the completion of some project I have been working on around the house or yard. I take pride in my work and it is gratifying to me when Mary Jo notices and shows her appreciation of my effort to make our home a little bit cozier or nicer. It tells me that she really does appreciate the work I put in on behalf of the family and our home. It reaffirms me and makes me want to continue my efforts to transform our home into a place where family can gather in comfort. It may be something as simple as planting some flowers or shrubs in the yard or painting one of the hallways or bedrooms. And when it comes to a painting project, those words of appreciation certainly are much more pleasing than some other words which I have heard on occasion in the past, namely, “I really don’t like the color.” I know that can only mean one thing, that I am going to have to redo the entire paint job which I just completed!

“It’s time for dinner!”

Okay, I know some of the guys are saying, “Yeah, I really like to hear those words too!” But when I hear Mary Jo calling me to dinner, while my first reaction may be to say to myself “Great, because I’m starving,” what I also hear her saying is “I love you and am showing my love for you by preparing this delicious meal.” Mary Jo is a fantastic cook who learned from her Italian mother and grandmother, and for years she has prepared many delicious meals for our family day in and day out. She has continued to experiment with new recipes over the years and has developed a wide variety of delicious meals ranging from Italian to Mexican to seafood, and more. Just this past Christmas she tried a brand new recipe for crown roast of pork, which looked like it was fit to serve a king and tasted even better than it looked. The family raved about that meal for many days afterward.

Even now, when it is mainly just the two of us in the house, she continues to make healthy and tasty meals. I realize that she could easily take the attitude that she has cooked for all these years for our large family and now she is going to cut back on her meal preparation. Sometimes we do eat very simply or go out for a meal, but most of the time she continues to work in the kitchen to prepare nice meals for us. So when Mary Jo calls to me with those words “It’s time to eat,” I know that this is more than just a call to dinner. It is her way of expressing her love for me, or for the whole family whenever they are here visiting.

“Come to bed, dear”

Okay guys, so this is not exactly about what you might be thinking when you hear those words. What I realize now, and did not in our earlier married years, is that when Mary Jo says this to me, what she really means is that she does not like going to bed alone, but would much rather have me next to her, cold toes and all, to snuggle up to and hold each other at the end of the day.

However, sometimes we are simply on two very different schedules. Mary Jo is more of a morning person than me and likes to get up very early. But she also tends to fade out very quickly right after we watch the ten o’clock evening news. Sometimes however, when she is ready to turn in for the night I may not feel very tired. I would really rather stay up for a while to read or just unwind a bit longer. So I may have to put aside what I desire, recognize what she is really saying and realize her need to cozy up together, as we drift off to sleep, side by side.

“I am sorry”

Some final words of love are those that I have found myself having to say many times over the course of 35 years of married life: “I am sorry.”

I am sure many of us have heard that old expression, “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That has to be one of the most absurd sayings I have ever heard! While we certainly do not intentionally hurt someone we love, especially when that loved one is our spouse, we cannot live our marriage side by side without bumping into each other on occasion, with the result being hurt feelings and bruised emotions. It is just part of our human nature.

So I will readily admit that I have had to say those words to Mary Jo many times in the past when I have failed to love her as I am called to, and I am sure there will be future occasions for me to speak those same words to her.

Sometimes we show our love for each other by our actions, by those little things we do to let the other know we are thinking of them. At other times, words may be necessary to fully express that love.