Over the last 16 months I have written 57 posts, containing more than 50,000 words, and I have never once veered off the topic of extreme poverty…But today I am going to make a single exception. I have written many times on this blog about the importance of love, respect, dignity and compassion, so now I feel compelled to tell you about the person in my life who exhibits all of those qualities…and more.
I have been married for 38 years to the most amazing woman I have ever met. Why I should be so lucky remains a mystery. I try not to dwell too much on my good fortune for fear that I’ll see just how unworthy I am of her affection and devotion. I’m certain that I have not measured up as husband to the same level that she has as a wife. Although we are truly partners she carries far more than her share of the burden for making our lives run smoothly and happily. She does this without complaint and without worrying. I, on the other hand, am a world-class worrier. I worry about anything and everything, but she is always there offering calming, steady reassurance that everything will work out.
Her general sense of optimism is a source of inspiration. She always sees the glass as “half full” while I not only see the glass as “half empty“, I’m also sure it’s leaking. She constantly strives to see the best in people and that is certainly to my benefit because she could just as easily dwell on my flaws and short comings. My wife has a joy for life that is unbridled. If you are lucky enough to become her friend, you will remain her friend forever. She is more than willing to forgive and she does not hold grudges. She makes mistakes, like any other person, but she always seems to learn from them. When she struggles with a problem she does her best to work her way through it, and then she moves on.
My wife has more patience than anyone I have ever met. She is so considerate and thoughtful that she is willing to wait, for however long it takes, for me to realize that she is once again right and I am wrong. I mean that in the best possible way. Instead of nagging me about what is the right thing to do she is patient and has faith that I will eventually see the reasoning behind her position. In other words – in our family she has all of the common sense. Thank goodness someone does. I am often aware of her guiding influence in the background gently maneuvering me in the direction I need to go. We both realize this is happening, but she is kind enough to never mention it. Her sensitivity for the feelings of others is acute.
For the last 16 months, as I have been writing this blog, my wife has been supportive, enthusiastic and completely honest about my efforts. I value her opinion above all others because she has a way of seeing what is important and what is not. She is wise enough to offer her opinion when it is asked for, and she is willing to bite her lip when her counsel has not been requested. However, failing to seek her advice is always my loss. Because of the large amount of time I devote to this site she has once again taken on more than her share of responsibilities in order for me to work full-time and still have the opportunity to write. It is a sacrifice that I can’t even begin to properly thank her for. There is really no greater gift that a loved one can give than the gift of their time. Her thoughtfulness and willingness in arranging our lives so that I can continue this undertaking will be impossible to ever repay.
As I grow older, I am increasingly aware of how important it is to have someone who is always there for you. It is absolutely crucial to have someone who can share both the laughter and the tears that we all experience in life. To have something wonderful happen to you but not to have anyone to share it with diminishes the joy – and to be totally alone as you go through the trials that we must all endure only adds to the suffering. My partner has never let me down. She is the only person in the world with whom I can completely be myself. There is no need for pretense. There is no reason to try to be anything other than what I am, because she loves me with all my idiosyncrasies, annoying habits and compulsions. She is a saint.
I often stop and consider how lucky I am to be married to my best friend. No matter how much we disagree with each other, or become frustrated with each other, we know deep down that it doesn’t affect the core of our relationship. The sense of trust and commitment is never broken even when harsh words are exchanged. It gives each person the freedom to fully express themselves without the fear of rejection. After the conflict we both realize that what was said in the heat of the moment did not represent the true feelings of either of us. When the bond of love is deep and sincere you find a way to compromise and move forward. That is a lesson my wife has taught me. Her willingness to forgive has been an invaluable example in my life.
Anyone who is married knows that it takes real effort to make it work. When a marriage lasts as long as ours has, it’s not only because you found the right person it’s also because you practice being tolerant, you share a sense of humor that allows you to laugh at the things you can’t change, and you decide to let your partner be who they really are. These were not always easy lessons to learn, but I was able to follow my wife’s lead. She is generous, thoughtful and kind but on a much deeper level than most. She continually gives the very best of herself knowing I will fall short in return, and that is why she is the person I want to grow old with.
A short time ago we were at a restaurant and seated across the room behind my wife was an elderly couple. She never saw them, but I was able to watch them for quite some time. Physically their bodies had deteriorated but not their love for each other. They had to be helped to and from their table but during the meal they frequently held hands and shared food. They laughed quietly; they doted on each other and simply enjoyed being together. The respect and affection they naturally demonstrated was touching. I couldn’t help but wonder what their lives had been like down through the years. I’m sure they shared many joys and celebrations but I imagine there were also dark moments that tested the strength of their relationship, but through it all they had persevered. As I watched them I could only hope that my wife and I would be fortunate enough to be together at that age.
If you have someone to share your life with please let them know what they really mean to you. Stop and consider what your life would be like without them. Think about the void that would consume you if you could no longer be with the one you love. Try to imagine the emptiness of your life without that special person to share it with…the person who takes care of you when you are ill…the person who defends you when you‘ve been wronged…the person who makes personal sacrifices for your well being…the person who accepts you no matter how flawed a human being you may be…the person who loves you more than anyone else on earth.
Whether you realize it or not, your life is intertwined with all of humanity. None of us stands alone. But it is so important to have that one person with whom you can find comfort, joy and redemption. I hope that I can be that person for my wife. She deserves to be loved, cherished and admired. The respect I have for her is immense and it grows with each passing day. The life we share together is the most important thing in the world, and that is why I have chosen this platform to let her know just how much I value her trust, her strength, her dignity, her grace and most of all her love.
Next week I will be back on topic, but I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize the invaluable contribution my life partner makes in the ongoing effort to raise awareness about extreme poverty. Although my name is listed as the author it is important that everyone understands that it takes both of us to keep this website up and running. I certainly couldn’t do it without her and I wouldn’t want to. My absolute greatest fear in life is that my wife will die first, and I will have to try to live without her. I know it is an intensely selfish wish, but I hope that I’m allowed to leave this world first. She is far stronger and braver than I am, and the world deserves to enjoy her goodness and decency for as long as possible.