I have never been afraid of learning from someone else—especially a child.
Early in our marriage I was upset with Gwen one evening—I don’t even remember why. I can assure you it wasn’t important, and it wasn’t her fault. I was so upset that, like a spoiled child, I grabbed my pillow and slept on the sofa.
During the night as I was half asleep, I realized that someone was standing beside me. I slowly turned—it wasn’t Gwen, it was four-year-old Wendy. She stood staring at me, and after a moment, broke the awkward silence as she said, “Why are you on the sofa, daddy—are you sick?” We used to sleep on the sofa when we weren’t feeling well.
“No, sweetie—I’m not sick.” The silence again filled the air. “Are you mad at mom?” I couldn’t believe she was calling me out. “No, I’m not mad at mom. I mean, I guess I was, but I’m not any more.” She stood with her stuffed doggie against one cheek and her little blanket snuggled against her neck.
“Did Mom do something wrong?” I looked at her sweet face in the faint light of the room. “No, honey. She didn’t. I just … I don’t know why I’m on the sofa, Wendy.” She didn’t miss a beat. “Then you should go back to bed, Daddy. If Mom wakes up and you’re not there, she’s going to be scared.” I couldn’t help but smile at her—she was so concerned.
I sat up on the edge of the sofa and scooped her into my arms. We hugged for a moment, and then I carried her to bed and tucked her in. I watched her as she quickly fell asleep.
When I crawled back into bed, Gwen stirred a little. I leaned over and gave her a kiss on her cheek as she breathed a little “hmmm.” I snuggled in, realizing how blessed I was.
I would love for everyone to believe that I was always the perfect husband, and that Gwen and I never argued in our marriage. It’s true that our marriage was wonderful, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took work, and putting away the selfish mindset that can easily overpower a young couple, especially in a society where that self-centered attitude is encouraged.
I realized that my thinking that night was centered on me—and it was not okay. A sweet marriage filled with romance and excitement doesn’t just happen—it’s a choice we can and should make, and accept nothing less. It is worth all the effort—I can promise you that. Every day we grew closer to each other, until the very last moment.