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The Wedding Gift
My single favorite wedding gift was not a card with a generous check or gift certificate. It was not a much needed kitchen appliance or household furnishing. It was not even a cherished heirloom now bequeathed to me for my new home. It was a simple 8”x10” wall hanging. It’s not that pretty, and I can’t even recall who gave it to us. Yet, the simple frame and matting surround a neat calligraphic presentation of the best marriage advice anyone ever gave me. Nearly 13 years later, it still occupies prime real estate on our bedroom wall.

I recently read an article on CNN.com entitled “Hunting for the Secret of a Happy Marriage.” It discussed the findings of some long-term studies that are attempting to discover what keeps love alive and couples together. Researchers learned that starting a family greatly stresses marriage partners, causing 90% of mothers and fathers to see at least some decrease in relationship satisfaction. They also observed that childless couples received no guarantee of smooth sailing either. Rather than busyness crowding out their happiness, boredom sets in. As expected, the psychologists cited in the article, suggested that couples prioritize time together and explore new hobbies and interests together to keep monotony out of monogamy.

That’s OK, but I’d like to suggest an even deeper, more fundamental secret to a happy marriage. Let me finish telling you about my favorite wedding gift. It reads:

Better Than Deserved

“A good marriage occurs when both people think they got better than they deserved.”

To me this simple saying speaks volumes about selflessness—practically a lost art in today’s “me first” culture. Armed with this attitude, couples can prevent almost any relationship problem before it is allowed to fester and grow. When I glance up at the framed words on my wall, I am reminded to value and appreciate my husband (even on the days he drives me crazy). It nudges me to at least consider how I may be behaving selfishly in a given situation and then, if need be, adjust my attitude to see the issue from his perspective.

My husband is a gift that I am blessed to have received. I did not simply deserve him, but I received him in spite of the many flaws that I also bring to the relationship table. As long as we mutually share that mindset of selfless appreciation, we will naturally treat each other with that perfect blend of love and respect that creates not only a good marriage but a great one.

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By Hannah Henry. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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