My wife (Jenny) and I will be celebrating our Silver Anniversary (25 years) of marriage in November. Our marriage can be divided into what is called the Two-Factor Theory of Love; starting with passionate love then leading to compassionate love. Passionate love is defined as an intense longing for a beloved, which can be experienced in a joyous emotional union. I vividly remember the first time I saw my wife; it was a sunny, warm day on May 25, 1988. Jenny was wearing a sundress, sandals, and a multicolored scarf around her waist. I was working for Wells Fargo and into our branch office walked this beautiful human being. I turn to my boss to remark, “she is hot, do you know her?” To which my boss quickly shot back, “that is my sister. She is home for the summer for work.” Common sense should have taken over since dating your boss’s sister is in no way a good idea… but passion won out that day. Two nights later we had our first date, and after what seemed like a quick three, fun-filled summer months later, it was time for Jenny to head back to college. One could say that the so-called “fire of passion” was still burning strong between us. Jenny was entering her sophomore year at a college nine hours away, but would the distance fan out the the flame? Soon came several weekends that included me leaving work Friday at 5pm, driving nine hours straight, arriving early Saturday morning, enjoying thirty-six hours with Jenny, getting in the car at 3pm on Sunday to make the nine hour drive back home. We seemed to have passed the test of distance. We had so much passion towards each other, Jenny made the bold move to transfer to a school closer to home (or closer to me depending on who you ask). Her move took our relationship to the next level, serious dating, and ultimately to marriage.
Compassionate love can defined as a quieter form of love associated with affection, companionship, friendship, and long-term commitment to relationship. My wife and I have been together for a total of thirty-one years so we definitely have entered the compassion phase of our marriage. We have been through a lot of life together; death of parents, birth of children, job transfers, relationship up-and-downs, lots of money, and times with little money. One thing that I would say has blessed our relationship the most is our friends. For seventeen years we have been a part of a couples small group that meets regularly on Sunday nights; in this small group, we have been through many book studies together on the topic of love. One study that changed us both was the 5 Love Languages by Chapman. My wife's top love language is Acts of Service while my top love language is Words of Affirmation; in contrast, my wife's lowest love language is Words of Affirmation while my lowest is Acts of Services. We have extremely different strengths, opposite personalities, and different views on various topics--but at the end of the day we choose to love each other. We have a date every week (her choice of activity, mostly grocery shopping or honey-do projects, after all she likes Acts of Service), and vacation together in our favorite places. Although our relationship is nowhere near perfect, we do enjoy each other, can laugh at each other in our shortcomings, and seem to be getting to know each other better as the years progress. I truly believe that satisfaction in any intimate relationship is a dynamic process that changes over time in response to situations, stresses, and the personal growth of each partner. After all of this, all I can say is thank you Jenny for sticking with me for thirty-one lovely years!