I promise to love you and honor you all the days of my life…

An acquaintance of mine once shared with me his conversion story to Christianity (he’s now a devout Catholic), and, though the whole story was fascinating, he had a particularly compelling story buried in the middle of his longer tale of encountering Christ. As he has given permission for me to tell the story, I will share it.

Only weeks after his faith-awakening, he was at work at break-time with his male co-workers. “That day had come,” he said, “when, even though I was changed inside, I had to find the courage to ‘go public’ and face the discomfort of being a changed man.” His co-workers were engaging in what had become a weekly Monday morning “guy” tradition, a tradition of which he was always very much willingly a part: the graphic sharing of their weekend “sexcapades and score stories” — sexual conquests with hook-ups, girlfriends or even wives. It was a combo of “whoa!” and “haha!” stories.

When it was his time to tell-all in the circle, he panicked, but then said a simple prayer: “Help.” He decided in that moment, instead of condemning their present behavior (and his past) outright, he would tell a weekend story about his wife to honor her, something complimentary about her that had nothing to do with sex. After he finished, they all laughed awkwardly and one guy said, “Damn, man, that’s a downer. What’s that all about?”

He went on to share in a simple way his recent change of heart and immediately faced some mild ridicule sprinkled with “Jesus-freak” comments. But one man, he said, came up afterward and asked him more in private. “What’s up, man? What’s your new deal?”

That “one man” eventually became Catholic and as a result joined his co-worker in choosing to honor his wife among his co-workers. They both helped bring about a long-term change in their business’ micro-culture. Its effects still endure to this day.

It’s how all genuine revolutions begin: one courageous heart at a time.

Another Tale of Honor

Here’s another awesome like-story that I happened last year. It’s worth the read.

“My wife is just such a pain in the ass!” he said, as we were changing in the gym locker room.

“You know how it is…” he finished.

Blankly, I stared at him, cocking my head sideways like a befuddled mastiff.

“No. I really don’t,” I replied. Read  more…

9 comments on “I promise to love you and honor you all the days of my life…

  1. Dismas Dancing says:

    My good doctor, I was that guy standing around the water fountain with salty tales to tell, but under slightly different circumstances. As a fighter pilot early in my military career, fanging, dissing, telling horror stories about one’s home front and its caretaker was not only the thing to do, the #1 rule of engagement was, “The first liar doesn’t stand a chance!” I never saw the movie, but its title, “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”, intrigued me since, in our squadron gatherings at Happy Hour every Friday at the “O” Club, the more beer consumed, the more terrible our wives became, the more they became victims of lewd, mostly untrue, stories about our lives with them. The only thing better than the stories might actually have been real video capturing what we “heroes” (at least in our own minds) said and did to wives and family outside the confines of “the Club”. We, and our wives, were fortunate, I suppose, in that video-camera cell phones had not yet been invented. Thank God!

    After one particular Friday night of drunkenness and debauchery, my regular back seat guy and I headed to my house to drink some more. I opened our front door shouting, “Who’s ready for a party?” thinking, “Wow, man, this will be great!” It was then that I looked into my bride’s face. Her eyes were red. A few tears remained from an obviously lengthy bout with anger, frustration, and absolute hurt. Though drunk, my own heart sank as she spoke words that still haunt after forty years, “Happy Anniversary!” For me it was an “Et tu, Brute?” moment that served as a dagger to the heart of the person whom I had become, a person I no longer recognized, a person in no way resembling him who stood at the altar of God pledging perpetual faithfulness to the beautiful woman who had so captured his heart. Though transformation would take years, this agonizing moment marked the beginning of my return to “real” manhood. Not the secular world’s definition, but God’s.

    We didn’t have a lot of money, so we had planned and saved for months for a “special” trip to Savannah: nice restaurant, meal, good bottle of wine, an overnight stay, flowers–all in honor of our fourth anniversary. Oh, there were hundreds of reasons, mostly excuses, explaining why I had forgotten. None would heal. Only time would do that. Would eternity be enough? She thrust out her hand and demanded the keys to the car. It was then I saw the suitcases. She retrieved our two young daughters from their rooms. It was clear that they, too, had been crying, no doubt in support of their grieving Mom. Another demand for the keys, more tears, and through horrible pain, “I’ve had enough!” I stepped outside and hurled the keys into the dark.

    In the morning, the booze hangover could have killed the body. But it was the hangover of the spirit born in my utter betrayal of the one human I had pledged to love the most that cast me into a pit of despair I have not felt since. It took over an hour before I found them. With the car keys in hand, I quietly walked to the bedroom and her side of the bed. Handing her the keys, in a voice barely above a whisper I said, “I am truly sorry. You don’t deserve what I have put you through. I hope you don’t, but you’re free to go.” It came from deep within a heart that had been broken from within, a heart that had just been taught the brutal truth of, “Actions have consequences!” But I meant every word; and that heart vowed to change. Like Peter, I wept bitterly over the betrayal of one whom I loved.

    Why? Thousands of them, but few answers—except for the love of God’s Divine Providence. “What ifs” are merely dreams; but the reality is that my wife forgave, and I did change. By her forgiveness and allowing me to forgive myself, she earned the right to similar forgiveness from me when life took her to places she would rather not have gone. Years earlier, when I needed her compassion and love, it was there. When she needed mine later, it was there. We remain together and much deeper in love after 46 years.

    Two of our children celebrate their 20th anniversaries this year. One, their 19th. The youngest, their 11th. They call often, asking “How?” “History”, my bride answers. “History founded in love. It’s easy to walk away; it’s very hard to stay sometimes. But, you must remember ‘why’ you are together. Trust in that. Build on that. We did.” I couldn’t agree more. What a wonderful treasure God has given me! The Pearl of Great Price! Since that terrible anniversary night long ago, I know that “Solomon, in all of his glory, is not arrayed such as these.”

    Thanks for your inspiration, Dr. Tom, in reminding me of just how special a person my bride is that God allowed into my every-day life. I apologize for the length.

  2. Sherri Paris says:

    What a great article! I never have felt like God would honor, bless any marriage when this kind of attitude prevails. Marriage has it’s ups and downs because two imperfect people are in that union. But, criticism that has and edge to it and/or puts down the other especially in front of others is just plain ugly! There certainly is a way to communicate issues without stripping the other person or dressing him/her down in front of others. Truly the Holy Spirit will most assuredly respond to our inner being if that happens and, of course, if we have ears that listen, eh?! May the Lord give us all the grace we need to love well!

  3. Ona says:

    Thank you for that. Women often do the same over after-work drinks or in the office lunch room or at the family reunion, griping about or making fun of their spouses. What a lovely thing to recognize at some point (better late than never!) that we two are on the same team! Dismas Dancing – your story is very touching. Thanks for sharing it.

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