Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The 100 percent solution

Several years ago I went to visit Mr. B, the father of my best friend in high school. I had spent a good deal of time at my friend's house during high school, and had become somewhat close to the rest of the family. I always admired Mr. and Mrs. B's relationship. No matter what obstacles they faced, they always maintained a quiet calm about them. Although I did not have what could be described as a "bad" childhood, our household was always much more raucous and rough and tumble than the B's. I think one of the reasons I preferred hanging out at my friend's house over mine is that it always seemed more peaceful.

Mr. and Mrs. B and the family had had their share of tragedy in their life. One of their son's had fallen into a river as a child and died while three sons were fishing with their dad. Despite this (or could it have been because of this) having happened, there was always a sense of the joy of life in their house.

Mr. B was dying, and I wanted to go and visit, as well as give some respite for the day to his wife, who was caring for him.

I spent a good deal of time talking to Mr. B that day, and one of the things that I asked him was what was the secret of having a good marriage. Mr. B replied in his quiet, yet strong and direct, manner. "Most people talk about marriage being a partnership, and how things need to be 50:50. Then when they don't get what they perceive is their 50% worth, they get upset. I've always approached marriage as a 100% thing. Sometimes you're giving 100%, and sometimes you're the one getting the 100% from your partner. And sometimes it's some other percentage. And you can't keep track of when you're giving it, and when you're getting it."

Many years have passed since that day. I'm not the best husband in the world. I get cranky, can be self centered at times, and am not the greatest at cleaning around the house. Yet whenever there are stresses in my marriage (financial, dealing with the school system, feeling sorry for myself when I turned down a promotion to be able to spend more time at home, etc.) I try to stop and remember my conversation with Mr. B from that day, and try to give my 100% to my wife. And perhaps in doing so, I can pass some of that same joy of living that existed in the B's home to mine.

So on this Valentine's Day, give your love 100%, and open yourself up to the fact that that 100% will come back to you at some point.

Joe is 208

1 comment:

Daisy said...

Well said. Happy Valentine's Day -- to you and yours, 100%.