Tag Archives: Relationships

Lovebirds

Yesterday I was walking my three dogs in the wee hours of the morning. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a blurred greyish fluttering, and turned to see what had caught my attention. I watched in amazement as I saw for the first time ever the mating ritual of the common red robin. I watched in rapt fascination as the two joined beaks, touched their wings together, flew a couple of feet straight into the air, spiraled downwards, and repeated the whole sequence several times before the female lay on her back and was mounted by the male for a brief second, beaks still joined. According to Birdhouses101.com, “it is said to be a simple and short ritual that a person would be very lucky to observe it.”

Robins are not the only species of bird to have beautiful or complex mating rituals. Many bird species engage in elaborate visual and auditory displays – intricate dances, elaborate songs, spectacular flights – to woo prospective mates. (If you would like to see some examples, you may find this site and this site interesting.) While a few species, such as the hummingbird, tend to “love ’em and leave ’em”, it has been suggested that 90% of paired birds are monogamous, and that many species – including Canada Geese, Mute Swans, Pileated Woodpeckers, Barn Owls, Blue Jays, and yes, the lowly robin – form pair bonds that last for several seasons or until one dies.

Perhaps the most well known of these pair-bonding birds is the lovebird, a small African parrot that is social, affectionate and monogamous. Pairs spend long periods of time just sitting together, and develop long-term relationships with each other and their owners, enjoying a good snuggle and gentle handling. In return, they participate in preening rituals with their owners.

In some ways, people are like birds. We engage in these elaborate dating rituals designed to attract and impress. It was not so long ago that humans meant for these rituals to become a life-bond – ” ’til death do us part”. But now? 41% of first marriages end in divorce…as well as 60% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages. Instead of becoming a permanent bond between two people that unites two extended families into one, marriage has become just another disposable part of our instant-gratification world. With the average wedding now costing $30 000, one cannot help but wonder if the trend towards showier nuptials is a misguided attempt to openly declare that *this* marriage will be different, this marriage will last.

My parents will be celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary this year. My mother’s parents were married for more than 50 years before my grandfather died. And elderly friends of mine were married for 63 years before they died within nine months of each other. None of those marriages were marked by extravagant shows of wealth. But they *were* marked by a constant nourishment, a frequent sitting together and snuggling, and a commitment to each other. My father met my mother on the night that his father was buried. My grandparents grew up as friends. And my elderly friends? Well, their story deserves a little more room….

I hope I remember all the details. It’s been a few years since she told me this story as I stayed with her while her husband was having surgery. It seems that one day he awoke and decided it was time for him to get married. So he went to his town square, where he sat all day and watched as everyone walked by. At the end of the day he decided that he did not want to marry anyone from his town, and the next morning rode his bike to another town nearby, where he again sat in the town square. As he watched the people go by, one girl caught his eye. He approached her, introduced himself, and said, “I am going to marry you.” She said, “Oh, you think so? Well, we’ll see about that!” And a couple of weeks later they were married.

This was not unusual. The current leader of my church first saw his wife while he was attending a dance with another girl, commented to her that *there* was the girl he was going to marry, and he did.

Each of these couples were/are committed to each other. The scriptures say, “Thou shalt love thy [spouse] with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto [him or] her and none else” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:22). They do not say, “Thou shalt love thy spouse 50% and s/he will love you 50% and that makes 100%.” Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition – it’s 100/100.

A lasting marriage takes being 100% committed to each other. It doesn’t take being the most beautiful or the most showy. It takes gentleness, companionship, affection.

Don’t be a hummingbird. Be a robin. Be a lovebird.

 

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The Kind of Guy My Husband Is

Shortly before I left Pennsylvania my husband and I were working on a project late one evening. We had come to a part that I could do on my own, and he declared that he thought he should lie down for awhile, not to go to bed but just to rest. An hour or so later, I woke him so that he could complete his portion of the project.

By the time he had finished, he was exhausted. I commented that he looked very tired and that he should go to bed. He was reluctant to do so – there were so many things he could be doing. I replied that he was obviously tired and needed to rest. He began to state that he didn’t know why he was so tired when a light of sudden realization came to him – he had given a blessing that day. “Actually, two blessings,” I smiled. He pondered that for a moment, having forgotten momentarily about the blessing he had given me that morning before my last medical procedure, before commenting that he always felt drained after giving a blessing, so two blessings had literally wiped him out.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy that shows up at work to find a member of his previous ward waiting patiently outside his office, hoping that my husband would consent to give him a blessing. There are dozens of other men this brother could have called upon for a blessing, several of whom who would have gone to his house if given a phone call, causing little disruption to his day. Instead, he chose to sit outside my husband’s office and wait just in case he showed up. Why? Because he knew from personal experience that my husband takes his priesthood responsibilities seriously.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who for seventeen years stayed in a marriage where his wife told him outright that she did not love him and under no circumstances wanted any more children. He stayed in that marriage until counselled by those in authority that this was an untenable situation. Even then, he left that ultimate decision up to her. Then, in an effort to ensure that his ex-wife had every opportunity to get her life together and be able to provide for her and their daughter, not only paid off her credit card balance of thousands of dollars but paid 111% more child support than he should have over a two year period. That’s right – 111% more than he should have. In other words, more than double. He even paid a little extra every month because the leaders of our church have encouraged fathers to be generous with child support payments. It was only when he became responsible for a new family that he sought to change these obligations. Why? Because it was in his daughter’s best interest that her mother be afforded every opportunity to find work, get her life together and learn to be a good mother to their daughter, and because he took very seriously the sacred covenants he had made with her and with Heavenly Father when they knelt across the altar in the holy temple.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who worries that he will not be able to be much of a father figure for his new eighteen year old step-daughter. He knows that her experiences of fatherhood both in and out of the church have been less than ideal. He knows that he cannot undo years of hurt and disappointment by others. He knows that now that she is an adult there will be few opportunities for her to experience a loving Latter-day Saint home with parents who work together to support each other and raise their children in righteousness. But he does what he can, inviting her for family prayer and family scripture study, calling her just to chat about things the two of them have in common, sending her interesting news tidbits via email. Why? Because he doesn’t want that branch of our family line to dwindle in unbelief, and he knows how much it means to me that he does these things.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who even before our marriage started showing how much he cares for me by staying with me in the hospital most of the day before our wedding, who immediately added me to his health care benefits as soon as we were married, who made arrangements for me to see doctors this summer and have treatments that would have taken months and months to have performed at home. Even when medication and pain turned me into an ogre he was right there next to me, tending to my every need, and doing little things to cheer me up. Were there rough patches in those first two months? Of course. But he stood by me and stuck with me. Why? Because husbands take care of their wives no matter what.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who takes his spirituality very seriously. So, having decided at age sixteen that he wanted to join our church he respected his parents’ wishes that he wait a little while before doing so, but continued to attend and learn and study. Once baptized, he served a mission where he was made a zone leader because of his abilities. And then, about ten years ago, was appointed president of a small branch overseas where his leadership resulted in a six hundred and fifty percent increase in members. Why? Because once he takes responsibility for something, he sticks with it until he has done the very best he can to fulfil his responsibilities pleasingly and faithfully.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who goes all out in everything he does. It wasn’t enough to write a normal term paper like everyone else in university – he had to write a one hundred fifty page paper on an undeciphered script, which eventually became a major thesis paper that, over the past twenty years or so, has led to major developments in discovering the secrets of this forgotten language. It wasn’t enough to have an intense interest in economics and politics and history – he had to become a writer for a magazine that has published over one hundred eighty of his articles. It wasn’t enough to have a passing interest in beetles – he and his best friend decided to pool their respective collections to form a lending library of the over thirty thousand specimens that the two of them have collected over the years from around the world. Why? Because he knows that the glory of God is intelligence, and the best way to improve one’s intellectual ability is to share it with others.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who seeks not after recognition, preferring instead to be a slightly eccentric nobody. You won’t find his name on many of the articles he has written. You won’t find his name on a fantasy trilogy that he worked on for five years. You won’t find him doing book signings for the non-fiction books he has written. Why? Because he doesn’t want any of the immoral trappings that often come with fame and fortune.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who, having learned just how dysfunctional my previous relationships have been, told me that he thought I had never truly been honoured as a daughter of God, and wanted to be different from every other guy. Hence, while we did hold hands and give quick hugs before we were married, our first kiss was during out wedding ceremony in my parents’ backyard, with our children and parents and other loved ones watching. What a wonderful gift we were able to give our children in a world that worships immorality –the knowledge that our love was pure and chaste until we were husband and wife. Why? Because he knew that no one else in my life has treated me with such respect.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who in his wedding vows promised to uphold his sacred duties as the priesthood holder in our home by presiding over our family in love and righteousness, providing the necessities of life, and protecting our family. He takes these responsibilities very seriously, always trying to better himself, giving me his encouragement in everything I do, working hard to provide for his daughter and for our future, going without so that his loved ones lack for nothing, and taking martial arts. Why? Because for him there is nothing more important than ensuring his family is well-cared for and safe.

Because of the kind of guy my husband is, I had no qualms whatsoever taking him as my lawful wedded husband after a brief courtship, to have and to hold from that day forward as one who honours his priesthood and carries out his responsibilities pleasingly and faithfully. Because of the kind of guy my husband is, I trust him with all my heart and with all my mind. I look forward to the day when we can be sealed together for time and for all eternity in the holy temple. I know he longs for that day to come, too.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is. And I love him for it.