Christmas Future

It’s been said, Don’t marry the person you think you can live with.  Marry the one you can’t live without.”

I wrote that quote down when I heard it in church a few years ago and have never forgotten it.

The truth is, if you are married, the single most important relationship you have is with your spouse.  You can’t divorce children, you’re pretty much stuck with them and they you.  But a spouse is a person you volunteer to journey through life with.  They see you at your absolute worst, and most vulnerable times.  People make jokes about being in awful marriages where the wife takes her husband for granted and pushes, pokes, and guilts her husband into doing her honey-do list.  Or husbands who declare their wives as balls and chains keeping them from the joys of life.  It’s how the world copes with bad marriages.

A person close to me is having some very serious problems in his marriage. Last week he said that if his wife died, his life would be so much easier.  He said this in anguish with tears in his eyes and I sat there stunned.  I knew he meant it.  I know marriage can be difficult, but death?

What is Christmas Future for married people? Imagine if you died today…what would the reaction of your spouse be?

Would it be relief?  Would it be an opportunity to finally do the things you REALLY wanted to do in life?  Would it be scary because the other one “took care” of everything and now you are lost and have to figure out how to be a responsible adult finally?

If you removed your husband or wife from the equation of your life…WHO WOULD YOU BE?  Would you be the same person?

Harry has changed a great deal from when we first met.    This change has not come without some pain for both of us.  I never sought out to “fix him” but have enjoyed most of the changes he’s made because they have been very positive.

I asked my husband this question a couple of days ago.  I was trying to get him to think about if his choices since we were married were his own or if I had too much influence on them. I hated the thought that he was making these changes because of me.

But maybe that question should be asked both ways.  Not only who would you be if your spouse was removed from your life…but also who are you because they are in it?  Maybe it’s ok that Harry has undergone a lot of positive change and it hasn’t been because I put the screws to him, but because of my inspiration?

Maybe those are the two most important questions to keep asking yourself every day of marriage.  It’s important to be authentic with your spouse.  To be honest about your needs.  To stay an individual.  But if you are a better person because they ARE a part of your life…isn’t that the goal?  Weren’t the lessons Scrooge learned from Christmas Future his motivation to affect people’s lives for the BETTER?  Wasn’t George Bailey’s lesson from Clarence that because he cared more about loving other people he made their world a better place?

Shouldn’t our goal in life, if we are married, be to inspire our spouses and help make them and the world they live in better?

If I died today, most of the world wouldn’t miss a beat.  I don’t even think my extended family would feel much of a void with my absence.  If I died the people at work would hire someone for the same amount of money, who was more qualified than me.  My children would miss me, but have sweet memories to carry them though.  But my husband…who would be be without me?  And how have I made his life and world a better place?

My hope and prayer is that he would choose to be exactly the same person who he is with me everyday and hopefully that he would say something like this about me when I’m gone:

Livvy was a person I avoided because I knew if I got to know her I would fall in love and I would have to change every aspect of my life.  From that first four-hour lunch we had, I knew I was right.

Livvy showed me what true love feels like, what it looks like, and how to keep it strong.  She taught me that true love makes mistakes and forgives.  That it is stronger than our flaws,  stronger than our doubts, and stronger than the lies we believe about ourselves.  Livvy was my best friend, my confidant, my counselor, my teacher, my lover, my jester, and my muse.  She changed the way I viewed what is possible in life on earth and after death.  She broke my rules.  Her smile could make me forget a bad day and her encouragement helped me to live through them when they came.  I am not the man I was because of her.

If I died tomorrow.  I hope that Harry would say that elusive miracle people hope for of experiencing true love was deeper, richer, more difficult, and messier but much more rewarding than anything he could have ever imagined and he has me to thank for it.

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