I don’t know about you, but when I see an old married couple out in public, I always find myself thinking really nice thoughts about them.
I’m talking here about a couple in their 70’s-80’s who just by the nature of their age and my assumptions, have been married 50 years or more.
I think about how they’ve weathered the good and the bad and they’ve somehow made it to “happily ever after”.
I assume their kids are long-ago grown and now there are probably grand kids that they enjoy together. They have accumulated a lifetime of special memories – and maybe a few difficult ones – but they made it through them together. I assume they’ve come to know each other very well and have grown to be extremely tolerant, perhaps even fond, of the things that long ago bothered them about each other. I assume that they have a comfort together that surpasses anything I can understand with only 16+ years under my belt.
And many times, the above is true. They have made it to a place we all long to go with our spouses.
But today, I saw an older couple that reminded me of what’s, sadly, more of the norm in marriages these days – even among those in their golden years.
I was in Ross Dress for Less picking up some pants for my son. I think this is the most successful Ross on the face of the planet because the check out line is usually about 25 people deep and often, on the weekends, the line goes all the way to the back of the store.
I was about 10th in line and there were about 15 people behind me at 2:00 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon (I have no idea when people in Fort Lauderdale work but it’s not at 2:00 on a Tuesday afternoon)!
About 5 people ahead of me there was a nicely dressed woman in her late 70’s. A couple minutes in to our wait, a nice-looking elderly man, clearly her husband, came up to the cart with a nice set of decorative wall hooks. I don’t have any idea what their home decor is, but these weren’t tacky in any way. They were muted gold, about 18″ long, with about 5 or 6 useful hooks and some decorative scrolling above the hooks.
The elderly woman/wife took one look at the hooks and LOUDLY said to him, “What’s THAT? What is that FOR?”, as if he had just walked up with a bag of chocolate covered dog poop. He very nicely said, “Hooks.” (because clearly she had never seen hooks before and he was trying to be helpful) “For my closet.” He almost said it kind of proudly – like maybe she was actually going to think it was a great idea! She, again VERY LOUDLY said, “You’ve got to be kidding me! NO! Put those back. What are you THINKING?? You are NOT getting those.”
You could almost hear the golden-years-dream-couple-bubble pop above my head.
Everyone around me was watching this as if watching a train wreck unfold. You wondered if the next move was going to be him telling her angrily that he most certainly was getting the hooks. That he hadn’t worked his butt off for 50 years to have her tell him what he can and can’t put in his closet. He was a statuesque man. Was he going to use his stature to intimidate her back? Or maybe she was going to calm down and apologize? Maybe she would tell him that getting the hooks for his closet was a good idea (which is a good starter response to anything your husband says) but maybe they could shop together for something closer to the decor of the house when they weren’t so rushed?
Keep in mind that decorative hooks at Ross Dress for Less are like $7.99. You can pretty much buy stuff there and throw it away if it doesn’t work out (if you’re wasteful and return-lazy like me). AND, he was buying the hooks for HIS CLOSET! Not for the entry way of The White House! Furthermore, the cart was filled with (another?) purse for the woman, (another?) pair of shoes for, I think, her and 4-5 women’s tops. All of this was for HER closet that can contain whatever she cares to buy! The cart didn’t have a single man-item.
Anyway, I bet if you have observed anything like this in the past or maybe even if you are her, you know exactly how this turned out.
The man, already trained how to respond (this is a BAD thing ladies), turned and quietly walked away with his hooks. He didn’t talk back (maybe he made that mistake in 1964), stomp away (1975) or show any other sign of having just been humiliated and treated like a bad child in front of 25 bystanders.
He calmly walked away and set his “dream hooks” down out of the way.
Then he quietly walked to the front of the store and took a seat on one of the chairs which, I guess, are conveniently placed there for scolded man-shoppers. And he patiently waited for his bride to check out.
I watched him walk to those chairs without so much as a sour look. It was almost robotic. Like he’d been in this situation many times before and he knew just what to do.
And my heart broke for him. And for every man like him. Including my own husband who had his share of humiliating experiences before I could see the above situation for exactly what it is. Horrifying. And wrong!
I was DYING to ask her, “But why can’t he have the hooks?” “Aren’t they just going in his closet?” “Could he pick out some different ones?” “Do you have any idea how much you have just humiliated him in front of this whole store?”
But I didn’t.
I don’t know their story and I don’t really care. I don’t know what horrible, unspeakable things he may have done to her as they made their way to “happily ever after” that causes her to feel justified to treat him like that.
But I know a few things the bible has to say about how we are to treat our husbands:
1 Thessalonians 5:7 says to encourage one another and build one another up
Ephesians 5:33 says that women are to respect their husbands (no if’s and’s or but’s)
Proverbs 14:1 says that the wise woman builds her home, but the foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands
Matthew 12:36 says that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for in the day of judgment
Believers or not, I assure you that a marriage with no encouragement or respect and lots of careless words is neither blessed nor fulfilling.
Ephesians 5:33 also says that men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church – even if she doesn’t deserve it.
I kept watching that couple. The husband watched as his wife checked out with the cashier. And when he could see that she was almost done, he got up out of his “time-out” chair and walked over to her. He took all of the bags from the cashier and quietly carried them out of the store for his wife.
Which spouse are you? If you’re like the lady I saw in Ross, would you want to be married to you?