A “Crippling” experience

November 4th, 2009

(This entry is a finalist in our Good, Bad, and Funny honeymoon story contest.  There are 16 stories, please vote for our winner by adding a comment to your favorite.)

Our adventures all started out about two months before we got married while we were engaged.  My husband worked at a ski resort and was an avid snowboarder.  He called me late one night from work and told me to meet him at the hospital because he thought he broke or hurt his leg really bad.

My heart sunk and I thought this can not be happening I have a wedding coming up.  I met him at the hospital and the doctor told him that he would need knee surgery in the morning and he thought that they could just go in with a scope and clean off some bone chips that had broken off and fix a little torn tendon.

The next morning he went into surgery and half way into the surgery the doctor came out to his mother and I and told us that he had bad news.  When they went in to clean out his knee that found out that he had broken off the whole bottom part of his femur and he would either need a knee replacement or there was a new procedure that they could do a cartilage and bone transplant using his own cartilage and bone, but it would require another surgery in 2-3 weeks.

I was dying because I was doing the math in my head and thought I am going to have to cancel my wedding because that means he will have the 2nd surgery 3 weeks before our wedding.  We decided on the new procedure and they took a cartilage sample from him at that point and then they sent the cartilage to Boston to a lab that regenerated more cartilage for his transplant scheduled in one week.  When my husband woke up I was dreading telling him that in a week he would have to have major knee surgery and wouldn’t be able to walk for 8 weeks.  The news did not go over well as you can imagine.

Then that next week they called us and told us that his defect was so severe that they would need an extra week to regenerate more cartilage.  I felt like I had a stopwatch on my neck and I was just watching time click away and get closer to our wedding day.

We had LONG talks about postponing the wedding, but after long debates and some things that would not be able to reschedule we decided that the SHOW MUST GO ON!  I told him that I only had one rule and that was he better not have to take pain pills on our wedding day because I wanted to make sure he was really in the moment and knew what he was agreeing to! :)

Well he had the major knee surgery and all went well, the recovery was very hard on him for the first few days but he was a trooper.  The nurses and doctors at the hospital were laughing that we were still getting married in 3 weeks and that he would be in a wheelchair.  I never left his side while he was in the hospital and I was still so excited to marry this man.

We got married in the winter and we did have a week long honeymoon scheduled in Jackson Hole to go snowboarding, but that soon changed.  After the surgery my husband could not put ANY weight on his leg for 8 weeks in order to let the transplant heal, and then he was on crutches and in re-hab for the next 6 weeks.  So the first 4 months of our marriage he was either in a wheelchair or on crutches.

By the time our wedding day rolled around he was feeling really good and NO he didn’t even need pain relievers anymore.  Our wedding day was PERFECT with just some minor adjustments for the groom.  He was in a wheelchair during the whole ceremony and we have some really fun pictures of me pushing him around and of him holding me on his lap in the wheelchair.  We did get a few pictures of him standing on one leg with his crutch propped up behind me.

Then during the reception he was able to sit on a big plush chair (no this is not a reason to break your leg) the whole time.  His leg and surgery was the topic of conversation all night.  Everyone thought they were pretty funny cracking the honeymoon jokes all night about him not being able to perform to 100% capacity.

The wedding day went great and then came the honeymoon, not in Jackson Hole.  We changed our plans to stay at Anniversary Inn for 2 nights and just relax.  We stayed at the Mansion location in Salt Lake City and we had two rooms booked for our stay that happened to be on the very top floor, and this place does not have an elevator (I do not know what we were thinking).

We arrived at Anniversary Inn in our Limo and the driver helped us unload our things (bags, WHEELCHAIR, crutches, and a knee rehab machine that was HUGE that he had to use 3 time a day).  It was 11:00pm by this time and the driver made a pile of our things on the sidewalk and then just left.

So here we are standing on this sidewalk late at night with only one of us that can carry anything and a room that is up like 5 flights of stairs.  So I walk into the front lobby to check in and they see me with a husband on crutches and a wheelchair in my hands and the look on the girls face was classic, she was probably thinking, “Yeah I bet you guys will be having a good ol’ crazy time.”

After we checked in it took me 5 trips up and down those stairs to get everything up into our room and by this time it’s almost midnight and I am all tired and sweaty and did not feel sexy at ALL.  My husband felt so bad that he couldn’t help me at all, but I still loved him.  Our situation made for a very different and crazy honeymoon but we survived and had a great time just being together and relaxing.  We got jokes about the nurse taking care of her patient and how I was the one in charge because my husband could barely even move, but we just laughed along with everyone and knew that it would get better in the future, which it has of course!

People still can’t believe it when I tell them that when we got married my husband was in a wheelchair.  We are coming up on our 9th wedding anniversary and in the last 9 years I have taken care of my husband with 6 more surgeries, so I think the first one was just preparing me for the many more to come.  But we are doing good now and I would love to win this weekend getaway to celebrate a weekend at Anniversary Inn WITHOUT the wheelchair!  I am in charge of planning our honeymoon this year and it would be a perfect gift to the man I love so much and who is my very best friend.

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Newlywed Pain

November 4th, 2009

(This entry is a finalist in our Good, Bad, and Funny honeymoon story contest.  There are 16 stories, please vote for our winner by adding a comment to your favorite.)

Dear Anniversary Inn,  I just learned of your contest and I have a story that I must share with you! 

My wonderful husband and I were married four years ago.  As we left the church to go get our pictures taken we were sprayed with rice, some rice bags that remained unopened (thanks guys), kisses, hugs and wonderful wishes for a happy marriage.  My husband thought it would be funny to take me in the car offered by one of his five grooms men, a large white four-door Hummer, with all five of his grooms men stuffed inside with me. 

In the confusion of trying to get everyone into the vehicle,  I ended up in the back seat with my huge dress still hanging out a barely opened door.  My husband was trying to stuff the last bite of fabric into the car and once he thought he finally had all of the layers tucked into the car he slammed the door to make it stay there.  Pain ran through my foot and up my leg.  His reaction to the doors opening was to slam it shut again.  Pain cursed at me this time. My newly pedicured big toe was slammed and shut in the HUMMER door twice.  The second time he slammed the door, on instinct, I actually pulled my toe out of the closed door possibly causing more damage.

On the way to get our pictures done I was very aware of the shooting, stabbing, horrible cursing pain and the continuing swelling that was hop-scotching from  my toe to my foot and ankle.  I tried to keep it cool because I didn’t want to hurt my husbands feelings, the poor guy had actually broken the opposite foot the very first time we danced together in college ( I will not say he was completely at fault in that instance…who asks to be flipped when they have no idea how to land?).  The irony of the coincidence was actually easing the pain a little for me, I was having myself a wee-little flood of emotions that was allowing the pain to seem somewhat comical. 

While we took pictures I left my wedding shoes on, during the reception I had to switch to flip flops and eventually to no shoes at all.  My husband  kindly aided me in making all of the right poses for pictures.  He felt so, so bad. He even held me tightly while we danced so there wouldn’t be a  way for me to injure myself further.

Our honeymoon was tricky getting started.  We stayed overnight in Wyoming in order to have breakfast and open presents with family.  We were supposed to leave after presents to go to Wendover where we had reservations for one of their suites with hot tub (later made into an Epsom Salt bath), a couples massages waiting. 

Unfortunately I could barely walk.  My toe was crusty and the nail was dark black and raised through my acrylic pedicure.  It was stuffed-sausage-like and the swelling continued through the ball and top of my foot.  We headed out for the day late with ice packs in tow.  After dropping off a friend at the airport we headed to the hospital emergency room. Clearly I was not a top priority in terms of emergencies.  We waited several hours later to get into a room.  We were exhausted and ended up falling asleep on the ER bed together, not impressing the staff at all.  After X-rays the doctor came in and poked a needle through the top of my toenail, releasing the pressure and spraying the room with goo.  It was 3:30am when we were finished at the ER.  My husband and I were exhausted and decided to go to our apartment to sleep until morning when we could travel safer.

We got to our wonderful suite late the next day.  We had to spend most of our time in the room. I am allergic to all pain medications and so on top of it all, I needed to keep my foot elevated and iced as often as I could to keep on top of the pain.  Another funny addition is that we had just graduated college and really couldn’t afford much so we had made plans to spend the second part of our honeymoon camping with my husbands family where I still couldn’t participate in the activities. 

All in all, the wedding was wonderful, the pictures were beautiful, the reception rocked, our honey moon was cut short by a day and a half, and my toe nail fell completely off the third day after it happened. This whole situation makes for one of the best stories I have had the privilege of telling (repeatedly of course).  I’m actually not sure that I would have changed any of it, though my toe nail has never been the same.

I have attached a family picture taken this year at Christmas time with our little boy.  As you can see, my husband is not a small man, there was a lot of force behind the shutting of the door each time he “slammed” it on my toe.  Seriously funny stuff.

I hope you enjoy our story, have a wonderful day!

Family Photo1

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Swimming with the Dolphins

November 4th, 2009

(This entry is a finalist in our Good, Bad, and Funny honeymoon story contest.  There are 16 stories, please vote for our winner by adding a comment to your favorite.)

This entry was submitted as a video:

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Remember that our children are watching

October 20th, 2009

The saying goes…”The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” (Theodore Hesburgh). I wonder how many times we as parents forget that part of our responsibility of keeping our marriage healthy and vibrant is not only for our own joy and happiness, but also for the benefit of our children who are watching us.

Another thought comes to mind… “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” Robert Fulghum

I found this video on YouTube by Erika Chambers called “All is right” and thought it was a very moving reminder of the importance of letting our children see us showing love and affection towards our husband or wife:

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Utah supports strong and healthy marriages as a priority

August 15th, 2009

In a previous post, The successful marriage – Can it be learned, the discussion revolved simply around whether one could learn how to have a happy marriage. With national statistics showing that 50% of first marriages will end in divorce, it begs the question whether couples can learn to strengthen their marriage, or if they must simply rely on luck and hope that they and their spouse can learn to get along on their own. The conclusion was that clearly happy marriages don’t just happen, couples can learn how to be more fulfilled and at peace in their marriages. They just sometimes need some guidance. The real trick over time is to change the culture within our society from one of discarding marriages simply because couples have “fallen out of love” to one of committing to marriage and learning how to make each one stronger even through difficult periods.

Many communities around the country are creating public initiatives as well as working with private businesses and local churches to try and provide education services. Here in Salt Lake City, the Utah Marriage Initiative has been launched specifically to help make marriages stronger.

The Utah Commission on Marriage was formed in 1998 by former Governor and First Lady, Mike and Jackie Leavitt,” explains Melanie Reese, Coordinator of the Utah Healthy Marriage Initiative. “The Commission is an advisory board to the Utah Healthy Marriage Initiative, now housed within the Department of Workforce Services’ Office of Work & Family Life. Its mission is to help people form and sustain a healthy and enduring marriage.”

According to Reese, the state of Utah spends upwards of $276 million per year on unwed childbirth and family fragmentation. As part of the effort to combat this problem, the Healthy Marriage Initiative strives to help couples better prepare themselves for marriage, or to strengthen their existing marriage.

One trend among national professional Marriage and Family Therapist organizations, like the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education (CMFCE), is an emphasis in the belief that people who better prepare themselves for marriage relationships through education programs are more likely to have successful, happy marriages. Utah’s Healthy Marriage Initiative is part of this national trend. Some of the key goals of the initiative include “maintaining two-parent families… (and) preventing family breakdown…” explains Reese.

Another significant new trend coming from the CMFCE, and something the Utah Marriage Initiative tries to emphasize on its website (http://www.strongermarriage.org/) and in its promotional materials, is the use of researched information to backup and support its claims and educational programs. By providing clear substantiated data to support the idea that healthy marriages improve society, and that all couples can learn to have more satisfying and healthier marriages, the CMFCE, the State of Utah, and many other groups across the country are beginning to make a difference in our society by providing resources and information to help strengthen our world one couple at a time.

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The successful marriage: Can it be learned?

August 7th, 2009

According to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, “…50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.” This means that half of our extended family, friends and neighbors are going to go through the turmoil of breaking apart a family unit. This is a sobering reality in our society that many are trying to remedy.

Diane Sollee, founder and Director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education (CMFCE), believes that part of the problem is a fundamental misunderstanding within our society of the importance of a complete, biological, intact family. “For too many years, the well-meaning experts, including myself, were saying all family forms are equal. We operated on the mentor model that if the child has at least one adult in his life with a strong connection, that is all he needs. Then a compelling body of research started coming that there is nothing you can measure for men, women and children where they do not do better in an intact biological family. That is a hard thing to say because that means they do not do as well in stepfamilies or any other family form. Just getting that information to couples is very valuable instead of saying, ‘The kids will be fine. All family forms are equal. We will send you to divorce adjustment therapy and then everything will be okay.’ It turns out that is not what the research is showing, and we have to correct that message,” Sollee said.

In her work with the CMFCE, Sollee has helped promote grass roots initiatives to create educational tools and programs that will help couples better understand what to expect going into a marriage.

The problem is one of education, says Sollee, “…We give people very good instructions about how to court, how to get engaged, how to do weddings, how to do a honeymoon, and what to expect when you are expecting a child. But then there is a black screen on how to be married. We need to educate the public about what to expect in a normal, good marriage. If you ask an educated couple about what event in marriage precipitates more separation and divorce, they answer infidelity, job loss, illness, or the death of a child. No one gets it right that it is the birth of a first baby and the three months before and three months after. If you ask, ‘When do marriages have the highest divorce rate?’ everyone says seven years. In reality, it is the first two years and in years 14 to 16. The average length of marriage is seven years,” explains Sollee.

Another key obstacle to educating our society has been a lack of understanding as to what makes a successful marriage work. Too often, it’s simply a matter of two people having unrealistic expectations. They think that because they are disagreeing, the marriage must be failing. According to Sollee, prior to the 1980’s most marriage relationship data that therapists and family counselors were using had been gathered by using couples that were already in failing marriages. Finally, the industry modified their data gathering approach and began watching “in love” couples and following them forward for ten years.

Sollee explains, “They found out there is no compatible couple. All couples disagree the same amount. And the difference was not what they disagree about or their ethnicity or age. Couples have to manage money, children, sex, others and time, and they will disagree about those. Those who divorced are the ones who do not understand that this is what marriage is…The experts also learned there are much better ways to manage – (we never use the word resolve) – conflict or disagreement in marriage. Even the happily married couples have irreconcilable differences; they just know how to manage them.”

Because of this new trend in family therapy, there has been a groundswell of support and interest in developing and providing new ways to educate and prepare people for long, happy, and successful marriage relationships.

Diane Sollee, and the CMFCE, has played a key part in organizing and encouraging a change in our culture to better prepare for long-term marriage relationships. As explained on the CMFCE website, “…The good news is that anyone can learn to do it better and smarter. Couples can unlearn the behaviors that destroy love and replace them with the behaviors that keep love alive.”

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A cheap date is better than no date at all!

July 29th, 2009

When was the last time you and your spouse had a night out just the two of you? There are tons of things to do that don’t cost lots of money. Even dinner for two at Wendy’s is better than no date at all. Make the committment to take your spouse out within the next couple of weeks. Go see a movie, drive up the canyons, watch the sunset, just go out for an ice cream cone. It doesn’t have to cost lots of money, it just needs to happen.

We attended the Smart Marriages Conference in Orlando a couple of weeks ago and learned some very sobering facts about marriage in the United States. Over 50% of marriages will end in divorce if the current trends continue.

Statistics also show that financial stress is one of the key factors in divorce. With the current economy, it may seem like you can’t afford to spend time going out on dates with your husband or wife, but these are the times when that is most important.

Go to your city’s official visitor website, if it’s got one, and see what events are coming up. Many of them are free!

Here are a few places to look:

Salt Lake City Visitor’s Bureau: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/events/
Boise Visitor’s Bureau: http://www.boise.org/Calendar/
Logan Visitor’s Bureau: http://www.tourcachevalley.com/index.php?id=16

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The Anniversary Inn at the annual Smart Marriages Conference

July 3rd, 2009

The Anniversary Inn is excited to be a part of the annual Smart Marriages conference being held in Orlando this next week. As part of the conference, we will be meeting with Dr. John Covey who has designed a special seminar series called The 8 Habits of a Successful Marriage. We will also have a chance to mingle with dozens of marriage and couples communications experts to compare notes and learn about the latest ideas and programs to help couples strengthen and nurture their marriage relationships.

As I’ve posted in an earlier blog, the mission of the Anniversary Inn is:

“…to provide a place where couples can escape from the pressures of everyday life and share a time of peace and relaxation together, thereby creating positive memories which will strengthen their relationship.”

As part of this mission statement, the Anniversary Inn Reminder can become a resource to provide information, inspirational stories, and programs that will help strengthen our communities and neighborhoods by strengthening our marriage relationships. Please help us to promote strong marriages and relationships by submitting any ideas, programs, or events in your communities that we can share with the rest of the Anniversary Inn community. Send all feedback to blog@anniversaryinn.com.

I will report back on our experiences at the conference in later posts. In the meantime, you can see what the conference provides by going to their website at: www.smartmarriages.com

Have a great 4th of July!!

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Communication: Sometimes it’s about what we don’t say

June 7th, 2009

We always hear about how important communication is in our marriages. I do agree that the way we communicate with each other is of utmost importance. However, what does it mean to communicate?

I think that sometimes we confuse communicating with talking. I don’t think to communicate always means to talk. I think that sometimes the best communication might be what we choose not to say.

When my wife and I first got married, someone gave us a quote that we thought was pretty funny at the time… “Go into marriage with both eyes wide open, and once your married keep at least one eye shut.”

We have come to more deeply understand and appreciate this concept the longer we are married. I believe that most of us understand intellectually the idea that we go into marriage blinded by love and that we can’t expect perfection in each other. But, knowing that and actually living that is not always the same thing.

Our emotions and feelings often overpower our logic and reason and with time we may find ourselves feeling resentment towards our spouse because of some of their habits or personal traits. This can cause a rift to develop with your spouse that you need to address.

As is most often the case, the way we communicate with each other has a huge impact on how we deal with these unmet expectations, or disappointments. While I am definitely a firm believer that you need to be able to communicate clearly and openly with your spouse about what is happening within your marriage, I don’t believe that everything you think or feel actually needs to be said.

For example, if I attempt to leave the house with socks that don’t match, I would hope that my wife would point that out to me, but I’m pretty sure that if she continually told me that she wished I’d consider a toupee, or hair plugs, to help “cure” my baldness, eventually it would start bothering me and I would begin to wonder if my lack of hair was really a problem. She’s not wrong; I am losing my hair, but will continually pointing that out to me help me somehow? What if I don’t mind being bald?

The same would go for a husband who continually “reminds” his wife that she’s put on a few pounds since the baby. He may technically be right, since most women do put on a few pounds when they have a baby, but is it actually helpful to her, or to the marriage relationship to keep pointing that out to her?

Sometimes I hear people actually justifying these type of comments as being “constructive criticism” or trying to be helpful and loving. But if the only result to this type of statement is that someone’s feelings are hurt, I don’t believe it has anything to do with being helpful, or loving, as much as it has to do with being selfish and having unrealistic expectations.

I believe that communication is critical in strengthening any marriage relationship, however communication does not always mean speaking what is on our mind. Sometimes communication is not saying things that would only make someone feel bad, and would not actually provide any positive value. It’s sometimes about what we don’t say.

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Brief History of the current Anniversary Inn owners

April 13th, 2009

In 2005, when Rich and Joan Bennion purchased the Anniversary Inn brand, the four different properties were not all owned by the same investment group. Logan and Boise were owned and operated by one group, and an entirely different group owned the Salt Lake locations. They shared the same brand name, but they were operated completely different.

The initial challenge was to get all four locations running more efficiently and uniformly. This included small things like requiring our staff to wear standardized uniforms, to more complex processes like modifying how we cleaned the rooms each day. Our housekeeping staff went through some rigorous training to get everybody on the same page to ensure our rooms are kept clean and inviting.

We also took a look at some of the themes and determined that we needed to “update” some of them or at least give some of them a facelift. As we looked at some of the rooms that we wanted to update, we also set as a goal to “raise the bar” each time we added a new room so that we could make an even bigger impression for our guests when they check into one of our Suites. Our theory is: “If the customer doesn’t say “Wow” as they walk into one of our suites, we didn’t do it right.” Joan took the lead on designing the rooms and ensuring that the tiniest details were addressed.

For those who have been following our progress, you will remember that our first major overhaul was to totally redo the lobby and common-area carpeting in both our Salt Lake locations. We then went to work on some of the suites. Little by little we have been updating and enhancing many of the different suites across all four locations.

The first major addition to our family of themed suites was in Logan. We took an old office and converted it into the Arabian Nights suite. From day one this has been a very popular room.

We then determined that Logan needed more rooms and so we purchased two adjoining buildings and began planning how we were going to introduce 12 new suites to our Anniversary Inn family.

This past fall we finally completed the project and, for those of you who have been following, I think it’s safe to say that we have really “raised the bar” with the level of detail and extravagance that we put into these new rooms.

If you’ve not checked them out, go to: http://www.anniversaryinn.com/logan.php

If you can get to Logan, it is definitely worth the trip!

The new themes are:

Juliet’s Balcony
Joanie’s Diner
Hawaiian Paradise
African Safari
Rich’s Drive-in
Biker Roadhouse
Taj Mahal
Vegas Nights
Blue Bayou
La Hacienda
Nefertiti’s Court
The Tipi

I’d be curious to hear some of your comments on how we did with the Logan expansion.

Does anybody have any feedback on which rooms are your favorite and why?

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Essay Contest Winner is announced

April 2nd, 2009

The votes are in and the counting is complete. We have a winner in our first ever essay contest!

Before I announce the winner, I want to personally thank everybody that submitted a story for our contest. I hope everyone enjoyed reading these stories as much as I did. I was inspired and touched by them all.

It was also fun to see just how many people are learning about the Anniversary Inn Reminder. We had email votes coming in from all over the world; some as far away as Ireland, South Africa, and New Zealand.

Not bad for a little hometown blog.

The winner of last months essay contest is: Michael Smith – Band of Love.

Thank you again to all who participated in our little contest. We would love to do more of these.

While we’re on the topic, what other type of things would you like to see here in the Anniversary Inn Reminder?

We are always looking for great ways to encourage and inspire people to work on their personal relationships. There is nothing more important than keeping our marriages and families strong and healthy.

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Essay Contest Finalists – Vote for your favorite!

March 15th, 2009

The five finalists have been chosen, please read the entries below and vote for your favorite by March 31, 2009!

We wanted to thank everyone who submitted entries to our First Annual (or semi-annual, or however often we decide to do this…) Essay Contest. What a fun opportunity to read the many different stories and submissions.

We hope this will become a fun forum for many of you to share your own stories of inspiration and committment to marriage and close family relationships. For those of you who would still like to submit entries, please do so as we would love to post your stories as “Guest” contributors to The Anniversary Inn Reminder.

Here are the five finalists for this latest contest:

Karen Bork
Amber Williams
Stuart McGraw
Lanette Nelson
Michael Smith

Each of these individuals will be receiving a cash-value Gift Certificate worth $100.00 at any Anniversary Inn location and they have now been entered into the Grand Prize round. For this Grand Prize finale we need everyone’s help to vote for their favorite submission.

Please take a moment to read the following submissions and then vote for your favorite by sending an email to blog@anniversaryinn.com listing the title of your favorite story. Voting will end March 31, 2009!

The submission who receives the highest number of votes via email will receive a free night stay good at ANY of our locations for ANY night of the week. Plus, they will win a dinner for two at one of our Select Partner locations.

Please help us select the winner by voting for your favorite!

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Band Of Love

March 15th, 2009

This is a guest submission by Michael Smith.

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Georgia slipped the band of gold around my finger, looked into my eyes and completed her vows. We were husband and wife.

A week later, I sat in my chair, mindlessly watching television. I twirled the unfamiliar band of gold circling my ring finger. It was the first piece of jewelry I’d ever worn. It made me feel different.

My life changed. I no longer thought of “me”. I thought of “us”. I had a wife. The band of gold proved it. From that day forward, people saw it and knew I was committed to another. It became a part of me. Whenever I sat idle, my right handwould reach to play with it. Other times, my left thumb would polish it – savoring the symbol of love.

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“Michael?” Georgia asked?

I looked across our dining room table at her. Her brown eyes sparkled.”What, Hun?”

“I’m pregnant.” She smiled.

“You are? Are you sure?” I rose from my chair.

“Do you feel OK? Do you need anything?”

I had an expectant mother to take care of.

“The doctor confirmed it today. And yes, I am OK. Now sit and finish your dinner.”

“But?” I stammered. “This calls for a toast. I’ll get that bottle of champagne.”

I rushed from the table.

“Michael!” she reached for my hand. She rested her other hand on her stomach.

“I can’t. The baby! Remember?”

I stared at her and frowned. “Why.”

I paused. “Oh right! The baby! I forgot – no drinking.”

“Relax. I’m OK. Sit and finish your dinner.”

We sat and ate. Afterward, I reached across the table and held her left hand in mine. I looked into those sparkling brown eyes.

“Thank you, Hun. Thank you for wanting to be the mother of our children.”

I looked down at the table where I still held her hand. The flickering candle reflected off our bands of gold.

“I love you, future Mama.”

I lifted her hand and kissed her ring.

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“It hurts so bad!” Georgia screamed.

“Pant!” I screamed back. “Pant! Puff, puff, puff, pufffff!”

“Stop blowing in my face!” She yelled at me.

Another contraction ripped through her body.

“Mrs. Smith!” the doctor said. “I need one more big push.”

“You can do it, Hun!”

I held her hand, or rather; she gripped mine in a vice. I saw our hands. My fingers were white from the lack of circulation.

The lights above the table reflected off our rings.

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“Look at her eyes, Michael! She’s so alert.” Georgia was in the recovery room. She cradled our little Vanessa in her left arm. I stroked Georgia’s hair.

My ring twinkled as her hair polished it.

“She’s beautiful, Hun. Thank you.”

She looked up at me. “That wasn’t so bad. I could do it again?”

Tears streamed down my cheeks. “Honey, you mean you would go through this again? You had so much pain!”

“I want our dream of a girl and a boy.”

Her hand rested on the blankets warming our new daughter – the gold of her band accented by the white cloth.

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“Mr. Smith, meet your new son.”

The nurse smiled and placed him in my arms.

“Hi, Justin!” He cried and waved his tiny arms in response. I placed our new son in Georgia’s arms.

“Thank you! Thank you so much!” I bent and kissed her.

My left hand stroked her cheek. The gold band sparkled with her perspiration.

“I love you.”

******************

We sat across the table from each other. A candle burned between us. Hushed voices from other tables filtered through my thoughts. I looked into those brown eyes, as I so often did.

“Happy anniversary, Georgia.”

“Happy anniversary, Michael.”

“Ten years! Can you believe it?”

“I hope the kids are OK.”

“Hun, they’re fine. This is our night.”

I reached for her hand and held it in mine. Like the bands in a tree trunk, our skin had begun to show the wrinkles of life. The fire of the candle reflected off our rings, reminding me of a night long ago, when she smiled and said, “I’m pregnant.”

******************

I sat on our sofa playing with my ring. I remembered forgetting to put it on after Georgia cleaned it one day. At work, I kept reaching for it with my thumb. I felt empty without it. I looked at Georgia’s picture on the TV stand. I was alone. Our children were in their rooms, grieving in their own way. Georgia’s urn rested on the credenza in the dining room. We’d brought her home from the service that afternoon. Her ring rested in my left palm. I had a decision to make.

“When do I take mine off?” I asked no one.

I was afraid. If I took it off, would it mean the love we shared was gone? The band of gold stayed on my finger. When my thumb touched it, my thoughts drifted to past times and not to the future and the life we planned.

“When do I take it off?” I asked myself again.

It was with me from the day we’d married more than nineteen years earlier. It’d been on my finger when I changed my children’s diapers. When we took drives, my hand held the steering wheel. The ring reflected the sunshine. The day she took her last breath, I held her hand and the ring reflected the machines that had kept her alive. I reached behind my neck and undid the clasp of the gold chain.

She’d given it to me on our first Christmas together.

I threaded her ring onto it and started to put it back around my neck. I paused and put it down. The fingers of my right hand reached for my ring a final time. I twirled it around like old times and then slipped it off. I held it to the light. It was scratched and dented from the rigors of living. It joined Georgia’s ring on the chain. My hand felt empty without its comforting weight, but the combined rings hanging around my neck soothed me – a reminder of our years together.

******************

Almost a year later, I stood with Ginny in a New York City court house. She took my hand and placed a new band of gold around my finger.

The Justice of the Peace smiled.

“I pronounce you man and wife. Michael, you may now kiss the bride.

“Ginny slipped into my arms. Our lips met. I hugged her to me. On her shoulder, I saw my hand and the ring on my finger – a band of love.

******************

Ginny and I sat on our deck reading. I held my book in my righthand. My left hand rested on my lap. A sparkle caused me to blink. I looked down. The new band reflected the sun. Ginny looked up at me, “I love you.”

“Love you more.”

“Love you too.”

We played our game. She turned back to her book. I stared at my ring again. It meant more than marriage. Like life, it had a beginning and an end. I started one journey with Georgia.

“Until death do we part.” we repeated – a beginning and an end.

We followed the band of gold to her end.

“Gin?” She looked up from her book. “Yes?”

“I need to do something.” She looked puzzled.

“What?” I reached up, unclipped my chain, and removed the two rings.

“Michael, what are you doing?”

“It’s time to let go, Gin.”

“But they mean so much to you.”

“Yes they do, but it is time to move forward. It’s like starting a new year. I need to let go of the old and enjoy the new. “

She stood, walked over and sat in my lap. She wrapped her arms around me.

“I understand.”

I held up my left hand. “Look!”

She stared at my hand. “What?”

“See how the sun reflects off it? I’ve been blessed to have you in my life. I have a new band of love, a new life, a new beginning, a new year and you. It’s time to move forward with you.”

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Soul Mates

March 15th, 2009

This is a guest submission by Lanette Nelson

*******************

He walked into the house rather sheepishly, hoping she wouldn’t fuss over the fiery tiger lilies too much but also hoping she’d like them. She loved them, and the two shared a swift kiss. To an outsider it may look like an ordinary peck. But to the wide brown eyes of the on-looking little girl, it was the essence of true love, and she hoped someday she would find someone as great as her daddy to bring her flowers and make her a queen.

******************

When I was nineteen I believed in soul mates—like when two people are made for each other and are destined to be happy forever because they are so meant to be. After my first year of college I came home and helped my grandma watch my siblings while my parents went to Wales. One day while talking to Grandma about wanting to find my own soul mate, I was horrified to learn that she didn’t believe in such nonsense. She said you can marry anyone and choose your happiness. The logic of this certainly overshadowed my own Hollywood-based ideals, and I was devastated to think that the stars did not have a predetermined course for me.

After a few weeks my parents came home, and for the first time I wondered if they were really “soul mates” as I always assumed they were. I never thought of them as wildly romantic and yet I never doubted, even for a nanosecond, that my parents were perfect for each other. It was an undeniable truth. I watched them closely at this time, and noticed a tender, loyal and gentle love that truly seemed to be the stuff of soul mates. But I also knew that my grandma was right—the stars aren’t going to make us marry someone—it’s up to us to choose. We can choose who we marry. Maybe we can choose our soul mates, I decided.

******************

She was angry with her mother. Deep down the little girl knew her reasoning was silly, but she could not suppress her bitter retort and the mean words that spewed from her lips. But her mother didn’t fight back. She just sat, all composure and poise. It was her daddy who appeared from the shadows and scolded her. Her eyes shamefully met his, and she realized that she’d hurt him as well when she hurt her mother. It was like they were connected—like they were one. As she apologized it seemed only right that she say sorry not only to her mother, but also her father.

******************

Neither of my parents are what Hollywood defines as “romantics,” and yet their marital happiness touches others. I’ve felt it touch my own marriage when times are tough—my parents are less showy about their love for each other—at least when it comes to things like jewelry and making-out during movies. But in other ways their love is very distinct and obvious. They are best friends, and think very much alike. They defend each other mightily and are the most loyal pair you will ever meet.

******************

The wide brown eyes were older now, and rather than watching her parents she was watching a tall boy fumble awkwardly with his keys at her door. The two stepped into the warm summer night toward his truck. She reached the passenger side and realized he was already sitting in the driver’s side. She struggled with her door and he chuckled. She remembered her dad, so tender and sweet with her mother, and knew that nothing would come of this date. This boy did not seem the tiger lily giving, unconditional love and loyalty radiating type.
She kept looking for someone who would bring her tiger lilies, and one snowy night years later she found him. He would fight off anything threatening her and she felt the same way about him. It was now that the wide-eyed girl realized that soul mates are real after all.

******************

I still believe in soul mates, just like my nineteen year-old self, but I suppose my definition of the term is different now. Soul mates are potentially everywhere. You need to work to become soul mates with the one you love most, and you need to work to stay soul mates forever. But the work is worth all of the stress and the sweat, and the result is amazingly sweet. I’m still learning from my parents in my young marriage—they teach me so much. The most important lesson they taught me was how to love—the real kind of love—and how to find my real-life soul mate (rather than the Hollywood type) because the real stuff is what wide-eyed little girls really dream of.

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The Day My Life Changed

March 15th, 2009

This is a guest submission by Stuart McGraw

*******************

I was one of those driven boys who was determined to be the next Donald Trump. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a bazillionaire and I even had a pretty good idea as to how I was going to get there. College was critical, so was living in New York City and landing a job with a big Wall Street financial firm. Dating was fun, but I had determined early on that I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of a serious relationship until I was settled in New York working towards my second Million.

After three years of college, I was working on my next milestone… New York City. My degree was in Business, and I wanted to supplement that with an internship on Wall Street. My plan was to get a paid summer internship with a Wall Street firm and then while working in the Big Apple during that summer I would focus on networking and meeting as many people as I could to understand each of the different companies, what job functions were available at each, and which ones I would then follow up with once I actually finished my degree.

I was able to find the perfect summer job working with one of the top-three brokerage firms in the country. I couldn’t afford to actually live in the city, so I found a roommate to split rent with and we found a small apartment over somebody’s garage up in Westchester County. This was going to be the best summer ever, I would get the full New York City experience of riding the train in every morning to Grand Central Station, then I would either take a quick subway ride, or take a brisk walk, if the weather was good, to my office up on Madison Avenue.

This was going to be great! Plans were all set and ready to go by Thanksgiving and now it was just a matter of finishing winter term and then I’d be flying to New York by the end of April.

Then one day in January, my whole life changed. What was so important before suddenly wasn’t. There is absolutely no way of even anticipating something so traumatic and life-altering as what happened to me that day.

I had driven home for the weekend to visit my parents and as I pulled into the driveway another car pulled in behind mine. I didn’t recognize the girl who stepped out of the car, I’d never met her before, but I couldn’t stop staring. She cheerfully introduced herself and asked if my parents were home because she had been asked to pick something up from them.

As we walked into the house together we chatted briefly, I found it difficult to concentrate and I was stuttering and sputtering the entire time and I was getting angry with myself because of my reaction. I was not one to get tongue-tied around women and this was very frustrating for me, but I could not stop staring at this girl. Her voice was hypnotic, her smile was magnetic and I could not concentrate. It was obvious I had contracted something, and it was fatal.

Then, just as quickly as she had arrived, she retrieved the item and she was gone. I must have stared out the front window a bit too long as my mother noticed that I wasn’t quite myself.

(The only thing worse than totally reacting like a schoolboy with a silly crush in front of a woman is having your parents witness as you react like a schoolboy with a silly crush in front of a woman.)

With a smile on her face she asked me if I would like her to track down the girl’s phone number since she knew her parents. After a failed effort at trying to shrug it off as no big deal, I got her number and I spent the next couple of days working up the courage to ask her out. (Plus, I didn’t want to call too soon and act desperate, did I?)

To make a very long story a bit shorter, we went on our first date that next weekend. By Valentine’s Day I knew I was in serious trouble and I was starting to think crazy thoughts about not going to New York. By March, I was thinking more crazy thoughts and trying to figure out how to tell this girl how I was really feeling about her and by April I was entertaining the idea of actually marrying her. I was a mess!

One day in April, I drummed up the courage to let this girl know how I felt about her. We talked for several hours and she shared with me that she was feeling the same way, but she made it very clear that she did not want me to change my mind about New York because she did not want me to someday regret having missed that opportunity. It was only for a few months and it would not hurt either of us to slow things down a little bit.

Well, I did go to New York and it was a good experience, but not for any of the reasons that I had originally intended. My ambition and my goals of living in New York and making all that money suddenly just didn’t seem that important any longer. What I learned in New York was that I was miserable without her. I could not stop thinking about her. I had never considered that I could be so hopelessly and helplessly in love with someone else that it would make me physically ill not to be around her. After a few months of trying to stay focused on my dream, I finally accepted the reality that my dream and my goals had changed. Now, what I wanted more than anything else in the world was to be married to this woman and share the rest of my life with her.

I didn’t care about the money anymore, I didn’t care about the fame or notoriety, I only cared that I wanted to make her happy. I wanted to tell her I loved her every single morning as I left to work and I wanted to kiss her goodnight every night of my life.

What I learned by going away to New York is that without someone to love, any other success has no real value.

I recently celebrated 20 years of marriage with this wonderful woman. I think I love her more today than ever before, and she is certainly more beautiful now to me than that first day in my parents’ driveway. We have four children and I cannot imagine living one day without her. I don’t live in New York, and I don’t have a lot of money, but I am wealthier than any banker on Wall Street.

I love you sweetheart.

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Never Give Up

March 15th, 2009

This is a guest submission by Amber Williams

*******************

They were married May 6, 2004. It was an unseasonably cold day. All of the guests were forced to stand outside in the wind and cold to take pictures with this young couple about to start their journey into what would hopefully be wedded bliss. Little did this couple know what they would have to face together as they started their journey.

About a week into their new lives together Dan started to feel weak and sick. He noticed that he was bleeding every time he went to the bathroom. His brand new wife Danika (they both believe it wasn’t a coincidence their names were similiar) unsure and worried about what was going on took Dan to the doctor. After many tests it was decided that Dan had ulcerative colitis which is severe inflammation in the colon. The doctor warned that if they weren’t careful ulcerative colitis could turn into colon cancer within 10 years. This news broke Danika’s heart because she had lost her father to colon cancer when she was 15 years old.

The next couple of weeks were spent trying to find a way to get Dan feeling better. Medication the doctors prescribed seemed to be doing more harm then good so they went searching for alternatives. They tried water treatment, colon massages, herbal medications, and many many different diets. Nothing seemed to be working and Dan seemed to be getting weaker. He would wake in the night with severe headaches and he would get out of bed and there would be a pool of blood underneath him. Danika was scared and unsure of what to do. They were both attending a wonderful university and were looking forward to graduation. Dan had to miss many days of school and Danika had to work to support them and finish up her schooling. As soon as she was finished for the day she would race home to their small apartment to make sure Dan was okay. There were many days she was unsure of what she would come home to.

One day after a brief period of Dan feeling well enough to get out of bed they decided to hang out with friends. They were having a great time until Dan looked at Danika and he couldn’t speak. His words were slurring and he looked as if he were having a stroke. Danika rushed him to the emergency room with tears in her eyes, praying that everything would be alright. In the ER they learned that Dan wasn’t absorbing any of the nutrients he was eating and toxins had built up so much in his body that it had caused stroke like symptoms.

Later that night Danika brought Dan home from the hospital thankful he was alright. Her husband had lost so much weight and he could hardly keep anything down. Danika’s schooling was suffering and her meager $5.15 an hour she was making at her job on the college campus was hardly enough to pay for rent let alone all of their medical bills and medications. Here she was 20 years old with a very sick husband, mountains of homework and bills that needed to be paid. She had no idea what she would do and she got discouraged and wondered if she had married to quickly and if she had made the wrong decision. Her life seemed to be falling apart.

That night she tiptoed into her room where her husband was sleeping. She looked at her home that was in complete disarray, her homework and the bills. She was thinking to herself this is crazy when a picture on the wall caught her eye.

It was a picture of their wedding. She looked at the picture long and hard and then looked at her sleeping husband and she realized she had made covenants with this wonderful man and he loved her. Despite everything she had gone through she knew she loved him and that together they could face this challenge. Life has not always been easy in the few short years since Dan and Danika have been married but they have faced their challenges together and held on to one another. When times get tough for Danika she remembers that dark night when she vowed to herself she would never give up on her husband or their marriage.

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Two Shall Be One ~A true story about young love~

March 15th, 2009

This is a guest submission by Karen Bork

*******************

I was just 15 years old when I attended a summer church camp in a neighboring state and met a new friend. While flipping through some of her photos, I saw a certain one that really leaped out to me. I had no idea who this ‘boy’ was, but there was just something about him that drew me. When I inquired about him, I learned that his name was Rick, he had never had a girlfriend, that he was very particular and that he would not be interested in ‘just anyone.’

Meanwhile, nearly 3,000 miles away, and unbeknownst to me, another friend of mine accidently dropped my senior portrait at this boy’s home. He returned home from work that evening and found (in his words) the most beautiful girl he had ever seen on the family coffee table. He quickly pocketed the picture and carried it with him for several weeks before shyly inquiring of my identity.

That year, within just a few days of Christmas, the postman delivered a letter which changed my life and sealed my destiny. Back in that day, there was no Facebook or Myspace. We didn’t even have free long distance, email or cell phones. We got to know each other through snail-mail and with only the aid of pen and paper.

Finally, the day arrived when he picked up the phone and made the first costly long distance call. We heard each other’s voice for the first time 4 months after beginning our correspondence. For the next 4 months, we averaged a telephone bill well over $200 each month but we were having fun and becoming better acquainted in a very special way.

Gradually, the desire to meet grew, and though I was a country girl of only 16, my parents allowed me to use the plane ticket which he purchased for me. Imagine if you can, meeting for the first time, your 19 year old ‘boyfriend’ of 8 months! To make a long story short, we were not disappointed and continued our courtship right through his 1st year of college. Ours was a mostly long-distance relationship with him in college and me finishing my last year of high school. In fact, the 3rd time we were together, he asked me to marry him. By this time, I had just turned 18. I realize that most people do not think it is safe to trust ‘young love’; after all, young people now days just aren’t mature enough to know their own heart are they?

Well, once in a while, there are just 2 people who are created to be together. We have 3 (soon to be 4) beautiful little girls and after 12 years of marriage, we are more in love today than we ever dreamed possible! Like every couple, we have had out ‘bumps in the road’ but have found a secret in the phrase, ‘Two shall be one.’ You can’t truly become one until you share everything and when you do, it is simply impossible to be separate again. We celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary on the 21st of this month with….You guessed it! “Another awesome experience at The Anniversary Inn!”

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The Gift of Apology

February 22nd, 2009

In an earlier post, I wrote about the difference between a present and a gift. I submit that a present is something that is purchased or given simply because it is expected that you will give something. We send our kids to birthday parties with presents and sometimes our own children don’t even know what’s inside the wrapping paper. No real thought given to the present, we just have to give something.

A gift can be purchased, but it also comes with some level of meaning attached to it. Some time has been spent thinking about what would be the perfect gift for a particular individual. A ring is a lovely present for a wife on Valentine’s Day, but a Mother’s ring with a stone representing each of your children is a well-thought-out gift.

Could we apply that same concept to an apology? Should an apology be a present, or a gift? Do you sometimes say, “I’m sorry” even though you don’t really believe you were at fault? Or do you say you are sorry, but then spend several moments explaining why you were justified in your behavior. Why would you even bother apologizing in that case, you obviously don’t really mean it?

The power of an apology is profound, if given as a gift. Think about the last time you and your spouse had a disagreement. Voices may have been raised, hurtful things may have been spoken, and at the end of the incident both of you are feeling angry and misunderstood. Both of you have hastily built up a defensive barrier that neither of you is eager to cross.

Now you have an important decision to make. How do you knock down that barrier? How do you open up the lines of communication again? It doesn’t really even matter if you were at fault; you still have a stake in trying to fix things.

This is the power of a sincere apology. Once it is offered, those barriers seem to come down quickly. It may not be instantly, and your spouse may still need some additional time to process his/her feelings, but you have provided the opening that they can take hold of when they are ready.

However, if an apology is given simply as another way to re-introduce your points of the argument (“I’m sorry that we argued, but if you would only…”) then the apology is negated and the opportunity to diffuse the situation is wasted.

We need to stop trying to justify ourselves through our apologies. If you’re going to say it, mean it. And then stop talking.

Let’s treat the apology as a real gift that we put some time and thought into and give it sincerely. Don’t treat it as a present that we just picked up on our way through the checkout stand because it was within reach and didn’t cost much.

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Enter the Anniversary Inn essay contest and win big prizes

February 10th, 2009

I love the month of February here at the Anniversary Inn. It is always fun to see how many couples take the time out of their busy lives and make the effort to do something special for their loved one on Valentine’s Day by spending a night or two with us.

This is what our business is all about. We want to encourage everyone to remember what is really important in life. If you can find that special someone that makes you want to be a better person, or that makes you want to think outside of yourself, you are truly in love.

In keeping with this idea, we at the Anniversary Inn thought it might be fun to get some of your stories about love and commitment to marriage. I recently posted a short story taken from my personal life about my grandfather and the example he was to me in showing devotion and commitment to the woman he loved. In that same vein, we’ve decided to sponsor an essay contest where each of you can submit a short story about an individual, or couple, who showed their devotion to one another in a special or inspirational way.

All submissions will be reviewed and scored by the Anniversary Inn and the top five winners will win a cash-value Gift Certificate worth $100.00 at any Anniversary Inn location, plus they will be entered to win the Grand Prize.

The readers of the Anniversary Inn Reminder will select the Grand Prize winner. Each of the top five stories will be posted here on the Anniversary Inn Reminder and we will let you, our readers, vote for your favorite. The person whose story receives the most votes will receive a free night stay good at ANY of our locations for ANY night of the week. Plus, they will win a dinner for two at one of our Select Partner locations.

The following guidelines will apply:

1. Each story must be an original work created by the individual who submits it.

2. The story should be between 500 and 1000 words in length.

3. The story should be focused on how an individual or couple has shown a commitment to their marriage.

4. The story should be inspirational and positive with no sexual innuendo or vulgarity.

5. The Anniversary Inn will own the copyright to any story that is submitted and will have the right to reprint, or publish the story.

6. Each entry should include a contact name and mailing address, or preferred email address, so we can contact you in the event you win one of the awards.

7. The Anniversary Inn assumes the right to make any grammatical, spelling or context changes as deemed necessary before re-publication.

8. First names only should be used in any story.

9. All submissions are due by February 28, 2009.

10. Only one vote per email address will be accepted for the Grand Prize drawing.

11. Judging for the top five finalists will be based on writing style, substance of the story, inspirational aspect of the story, and the relevance to promoting marriage and strong family relationships.

12. Submit all stories to the following email address: blog@anniversaryinn.com

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Love is a verb, not a noun

February 1st, 2009

I’ve always looked at love as a verb, an action word, something that is shown or demonstrated. I think sometimes we tend to minimize the concept of true love by treating it simply as a noun, something that you might possess or hold.

My grandfather taught me about what it really means to love someone. His generation had a different perspective on marriage. When people got married back then, it was a covenant before God and each other that “For better or for worse…” they were committed to one another. No matter how difficult things got, they stayed together and determined to make things work.

Today people get divorced for no other reason than they’ve “fallen out of love.” No-fault divorce has become so rampant in our society that the institution of marriage sometimes takes on the appearance of a social networking program rather than a true commitment between two people to support and take care of each other through the good times as well as the bad.

My grandmother suffered from depression for many years and was not always the easiest person to live with. But my grandfather loved her. He was a humble, gentle man who worked by the sweat of his brow his entire life. He was a farmer, he was a storeowner, he was a steelworker, and he was a volunteer fireman. He was never wealthy, but he was wise and kind and he took his responsibility as a husband very seriously.

As my grandparents got older, grandma became very ill. She was bed-ridden and spent every day lying on her back in their tiny little bedroom. If she needed to use the bathroom, he would carry her from her bed to the bathroom and then back again. He would cook every meal for her and bring it to her. Eventually she began to lose her eyesight. She became more dependent on him even for discussion and entertainment. She could no longer watch television, or read. She would listen to the radio for hours and my grandfather would sit in his chair and talk with her or read her the newspaper, or other stories.

One day when I was visiting, he was so excited to show me this “new” invention that he’d discovered. It was a cordless telephone that he had just purchased. (The rest of us had been using them for years, but he hadn’t been paying attention.) He showed me how he could now go outside and spend more time in the garden without worrying that he wouldn’t hear grandma call from the bedroom. If she needed him, she could page him by pushing the little button on the base unit and his phone would beep. He had devised a cool little phone-holster that he could strap on his belt to carry the phone.

He cared for my elderly grandmother day and night. Keeping her company, ignoring her complaints, loving her regardless of her negativity and promising her that he would always take care of her.

Eventually it became difficult for him to walk, his hips were giving out and the doctors told him that he needed to have both hips replaced. He told me later that the hardest thing he’d ever done was tell my grandmother that he had to temporarily place her in an Elder-Care facility while he had his hip operations. He felt so much guilt over leaving her alone in an unfamiliar place that he rushed through his physical therapy in order to get her back home with him. He later told me that the day he brought her home was the happiest he’d seen her in years. “She was very kissy,” he said, and they spent the next week together, with him sitting next to the bed keeping her company. She died a week later.

Marriage isn’t only about the romance; it’s also about the commitment. We are going to learn a lot about our spouse over the years we are married. We are going to know what makes them happy, we are going to know what causes them pain, and we are going to be able to choose daily which of those results we want to produce.

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