As a teenager, I witnessed the destruction of my parents 20-year marriage. Feeling alone and scared I moved in with my grandparents who are currently about to celebrate their 59th anniversary. I can honestly say that I have seen both ends of the spectrum as far as what you can do to strengthen or ruin a marriage.

I learned at an early age that it's much easier to destroy the love within the bonds of matrimony than it is to work towards building a relationship that will weather even the strongest of storms. Selfishness, in any relationship, is like a contagious disease that can quickly spread unless the proper medication is administered. In this case, that "medication" is appreciation. While it's important that both husbands and wives show appreciation for each other, it's the women in our lives that are most deserving and I can think of no better example than the way my grandfather treats my grandmother.

Sometimes, I think my grandparents have been married for such a long time because my grandma's hearing aids have an on/off switch, but deep down I know better. They both have their quirks and flaws yet, over the years, they have come to accept and even love the others fallacies. While time can give us wisdom and allow us to increase our love, it can also take its toll on our health. My grandma is 77 years old. She has crippling arthritis, two knee replacements, a metal rod in her lower spine, and is currently going blind. My grandpa is 79 years old and isn't much better. He has arthritis in his hands and hips and, as a result of two heart attacks, only 35 percent of his heart fully functions. His pace maker is the only thing keeping him alive. Day after day I've watched my grandpa put my grandma first in everything he does with only two exceptions, the hour The Price is Right is on and the hour Wheel of Fortune is on. Those two hours belong to him but the rest of the day it's all about grandma.

I've watched his arthritic fingers painfully prepare her food three times a day. He makes sure that she's eaten before he prepares his own meals and he serves her food in their bedroom because the simple task of getting out of a chair is too difficult for her. He counts her medications daily to make sure everything is being taken at the proper time and when he noticed his hearing was going bad he bought her a referee's whistle so he can hear her in the other room. When squeezing toothpaste onto her toothbrush became too difficult, grandpa started squeezing everything to the top of the tube to make it easier for her. No matter how tired he is or how much pain he's in, grandma's needs always comes first in every way.

My grandpa hasn't shown appreciation for my grandma with extravagant gifts or exotic vacations. His selfless acts of love and service have proved to be more valuable and by him showing appreciation for her, she appreciates him more. It's the perfect cure for selfishness.

My wife was a medical school student when we first met but she wasn't attending medical school nearby. No, she was attending the medical school that was the closest to her house - in Ecuador. She eventually gave in to this crazy gringo's charm and not only put her career as a Doctor on hold but she also left behind her country, culture, family, friends and everything she has ever known to be with me. Two years later she did the most amazing thing and sacrificed her comfort, sleep, health and body in order to give birth to our son. I honestly don't think I deserve someone as amazing as her but as I'm writing these words I find myself wondering when was the last time I told her that? Am I following the example given to me by my grandfather? Even if I don't serve her dinner or squeeze the tube of toothpaste for her, does she know I love her enough that I would if we were in that situation? Life gets busy but I've found that if I do at least the following four things every day, my wife will feel the appreciation and love I have for her.

1. Kiss her before and after work

2. Ask her how her day was and listen to her answer

3. Give her time to herself

4. Teach our son to respect mommy

I'm not perfect and she knows that more than anyone but the beautiful thing is that I don't have to be. As long as I try and do the little things every day, that's enough for her. Maybe one day I'll know the joys of counting medications and rubbing arthritic ointment on her wrinkled skin but until then I know that it's the little things that will get us to that point.

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