One day as I was navigating a parking lot on the way to the doctor, I noticed an elderly couple carefully making their way along. The husband held his wife's arm as she walked cautiously with her cane in hand. His tender watchful care over her was evident.

He was there. He was right there when she needed him.

I went up to my doctor's office and sat quietly in the waiting room. I was having my check-up with my surgical oncologist who had operated on me several years prior for breast cancer. This waiting room was often a sad place. And there sat a middle-aged couple with worry etched on their faces. The woman looked stoically ahead. Her husband held her hand as they waited.

He was there. He was right there when she needed him.

I used to visit my friend who was in a nursing home. There was a man there in his 50's who had fallen and broken his back and was a quadriplegic. I sometimes saw his wife walk in, still dressed up from having worked all day. She came every single day to eat dinner with him and spend as much time with him as she could.

She was there. She was right there when he needed her.

A big part of marriage is just being there. It's always supporting your spouse in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. How can we do that?

1. Be a cheerleader!

Your spouse wants someone to cheer him along. You can be his biggest cheerleader! Be encouraging. Be positive. And let him know you are his biggest fan.

2. Show up when it's important

Sometimes we just go along out of habit and don't always think about being there for our spouse. If she's stressed or worried, go with her. If she's doing something important, BE there to root for her. Yes, it's just a dumb 5K race, but it's her 5K race!

3. Spend time with him or her

Being there for your spouse involves spending lots of time together. Quality time together is a function of quantity time together. You can sit and hold hands and watch Star Trek reruns. You can just be in the kitchen near her as she makes dinner. You can sit and read a book by him as he reads his book. Just be together.

4. Go anyway

Your spouse may not want to bother you. Go anyway. She may not want to ask you to help her on her project. Go anyway. If in doubt, choose to be there.

The importance of being there was taught to me by my parents. I shall never forget the day my father died. I was sitting in the room with him and my mother. He had been completely unconscious for three days and the time was drawing near. My parents had been married for over 60 years - decades of being there for one another. Mom stood over Daddy and said, "Honey, can you kiss me one last time?" A miracle happened. Daddy smiled and then puckered up his lips for one last kiss with his sweetheart.

They were there, together, in those last few moments of his life. I shall never forget those moments. That is the pure essence of what marriage is about. Being there together - forever.

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