Never Give Up

This is a guest submission by Amber Williams

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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.

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

This is a guest submission by Karen Bork

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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!”

The Gift of Apology

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.

Enter the Anniversary Inn essay contest and win big prizes

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

Love is a verb, not a noun

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.

Romance requires some planning

Alright, so let’s get right to it.

Husbands, this one is for you. If you’re like me you’re thinking something like this: “Valentines Day is next month. This time I’m going to plan ahead. Good thing for me, there’s plenty of time to get something nice for my wife….”

Then we continue on with our daily routines and next thing we know it’s February 12th and it’s too late to get tickets, or plan an overnight getaway.

One thing to be aware of this year, guys…. February 14th falls on a Saturday. That means lots of people will be out and about. If you are planning on doing something that requires reservations you’d better start thinking about it now.

Although this site is obviously going to give shameless plugs for the Anniversary Inn on a regular basis, the reality is that February is one of our busiest months, so seriously…… plan ahead!

But even if you don’t stay with us, with Valentine’s Day falling on a Saturday, this year is going to be crowded. My sense is that even though our economy is struggling right now, folks are still going to want to do something nice for their loved ones.

Husbands, my suggestion to you (and to me, because I’ve seriously got to atone for last year’s “blender” fiasco) is to start floating a few “test balloons” past your wife to see what things she might be hoping for.

From my vast wealth of experience a hastily purchased present doesn’t go as far as a poem that took you some time to put together. I think we too often forget that buying stuff isn’t the same as giving a gift.

“Presents” are stuff you buy, “gifts” are things that you give with some level of meaning attached. A gift may be something that you purchased, but there is significance behind its purchase. A ring is a lovely present, but a Mother’s ring with a stone representing each of your children is a gift.

All I’m saying, husbands, is take a little time to think about this upcoming holiday. Valentine’s Day is the one time a year you really get to tell your wife that you do still care. And to represent that caring you’ve purchased, or written, or put together, or planned, this Gift.

Good luck men, I’ll see you on the other side!