Mary's Story...

My husband is a great husband. He loves me, cherishes me, respects me and daily
strives to be a better man. His love takes many humble forms, as is true love’s wont, such
as watching the kids so I can sleep in or doing the dishes. One form is so small that it
nearly goes unidentified; it is his refusal to build walls around his heart, and his refusal to
allow me to build my own. Why is this such a big deal? To build walls means to put up
barriers around one’s heart with the intention of forming protection against hurt. The
walls may buffer blows, but they also separate – a reality that is inimical to true love.

We all long for a “soul mate,” but everyone soon finds out that real life consists
of unintentional hurts, silly disagreements, and perceived attacks, not to mention grave
offenses. These things can send the best of us retreating from our beloved and our vow to
love unconditionally. This danger may be most real for those of us who take our marriage
seriously. Patting oneself on the back for staying put when the going gets tough may
blind us to the deeper reality that though we are physically present we have shut our heart
to our beloved.

So how does my husband ward off this hardening of hearts? He is very, very
quick to forgive. And I mean truly forgive, not put the incident in the archives to be
resurrected as ammunition in some future conflict. He does not let bitterness linger.
When a quarrel is over and resolved he ceases to think of it. He does not mull over every
word that was uttered in moments of exasperation or impatience. Nonetheless, he does
not hesitate to confront me if I am being ridiculously sensitive about some minor thing.

At times he pushes me to see and move beyond my own pettiness. He refuses to accept
my bothered silence or my inane “everything is fine.” He encourages me to
communicate when it is more comfortable to stay self indulgently silent. In short, he
keeps his heart open to receive me, and rouses me to do the same. Now that is an act of