The Gift of Appreciation

By Tori Benham

I had a conversation with my mom on the phone a while back that really struck me. Dad was out on their back deck and I was sitting on our front porch, a distance of less than 50 yards between the two (yes, we’re neighbors and Jason is cool with it!). I could hear dad laughing through both mom’s phone and the air between us, so I asked mom who he was talking to. Her answer shed so much light on why they’ve been happily married for 37 years.

“Oh that’s Dave from Massachusetts, remember him?” she began. “It amazes me that he can keep up with all these people in his life and just drop what he is doing for them. I am always blown away at how patient he is to listen and how generous he is with his time. He is an incredibly loyal person. Have you ever noticed that about him?”

“It is so true,” I agreed. But my dad’s loyal personality wasn’t the only thing I noticed. What struck me was that Mom had grown to appreciate the very thing that used to frustrate her in dad. See, Mom is a get-‘er-done kinda woman. Most days she has a plan from the time her eyes open until they close that night. A true servant to all, we call her iron woman because we can’t quite figure out how she does it all. Needless to say, because they are opposites they’ve had their fair share of disputes we kids had the privilege to witness (I’ll have to write about that later!).

Well, this particular late afternoon, iron woman just couldn’t shut up about the man she’ll be celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary with this week. The planner in her appreciated the flexibility in him. And it hit me, while opposites often attract at the beginning they detract after we get married UNLESS we learn to continue to appreciate those things in our spouse. I was watching my mom come full circle back to where she was when they were dating – admiring dad for who he was. The best of him.

Turns out that these opposites balance each other out quite nicely. Mom doesn’t try to make dad more like her but rather appreciates and admires the strengths in his personality that bring balance to her own. And dad does the same with her. In doing so, they really have become the dream team.

Appreciation in marriage is a mindset. One that must be chosen. Our thoughts of appreciation for our spouse fuels us to fight the battles of life alongside each other focused on each others strengths instead of against one another focused on each others weaknesses.

What a beautiful picture mom and dad painted for me that afternoon. A picture that took years of commitment to mark those beautiful details. A picture I’d like to replicate for my own kids to enjoy.

Tori Benham

My goal is to help you in your battle—for your marriage and your kids. I’ve discovered that my best battle buddy is my husband, Jason, when we choose to fight alongside one another and not against each other. Fighting together draws us together. This is exactly why Satan wants to divide us. But we cannot let that happen, and neither can you. I promise I will write from my heart whatever God gives me, and hopefully this sharing will help both of us. The Lord knows I need it as much as anyone!

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