No. I am not a serial-divorcer. I am not a serial-wife-killer. Nor am I a polygamist. I am, and always will be, married to one woman. She is alive and well, and I hope to remain married to her until death do us part. And for all of you “tweeters,” the “#31” in the title should be read “number 31” and not “hashtag 31.”
So then, what is the point of the title? Well, obviously the title has something to do with my wonderful wife. The reason that I’ve included 31 in the title is that this specific number is significant to me this year. It is significant for three distinct reasons.
31 Years of Marriage
The first reason that this number is significant is that this year (on January 22, 2014) my beautiful wife and I celebrate 31 years of marriage. That’s right. Thirty-one years ago Cinda Holloway became Cinda Amrozowicz. The pictures above and immediately below are of us – so young, so innocent, so overwhelmingly naïve.
To say that we’ve changed since that day in 1983 would be a huge understatement. Clearly, we’ve changed physically (though I much more than she). But we have also changed emotionally and spiritually. By this I mean that we have matured in these two areas. We’ve had to. That’s because a successful marriage requires effort; not just minimal effort, but immense effort. It’s only through the process of emotional and spiritual maturity that we remain happily married today.
One may evince emotional immaturity in many ways. In the context of marriage, it is usually evinced by unrealistic or unfair expectations of your spouse. I am sure my wife will readily attest to my emotional immaturity when we were newlyweds. For example, when we were newly married I expected her to be my Cinderella, while giving no effort at being her Prince Charming. I expected her to be wholly submissive, while not even considering laying down my life for her. I expected her to express respect for me, while giving no thought to expressing my love for her. Don’t get me wrong, I did not consciously have these expectations, nor did I consciously display my own shortcomings. It was only after our first few years of marriage that I developed enough self-awareness to understand that I was expecting more from my wife than I was from myself. Such self-awareness comes only through emotional maturity.
Cinda and I were both spiritually immature when we were newlyweds. Unfortunately, I remained so for at least the first 10 years of our marriage. I was what many people refer to as a “nominal Christian.” Yes, I had professed Jesus Christ as my savior and had asked Him to forgive me of my sins, but I had not made Him the lord of my life. Only after I willfully made Him lord and began the road to spiritual maturity was I able to understand the Biblical role and responsibility of a husband.
My emotional maturity and spiritual maturity are both continual works in progress. Thankfully, I have a wife who, for the past 31 years, has remained by my side and endured the growing pains associated with my seemingly continual maturation.
31 Times More Love
The second reason that the number 31 is significant to me is that I love my wife at least 31 times more today than I did on our wedding day. When I was single, and even as a newlywed, I would sarcastically roll my eyes whenever my parents (or some other married couple) would say that they loved each other more today than they did at some point in the past. I just could not grasp the concept of ever-increasing love. That, I believe, is because I did not understand the true concept of love.
As with many people, when I was younger I equated love with feelings. However, as I’ve gotten older, and hopefully at tad bit wiser, I’ve come to understand that love is a choice. Yes, love can evoke feelings; but not always. In the end, it’s up to me. I must wake up every day and make a decision. I can choose either to love my wife or to not love my wife. It’s that simple.
When I came to understand that love is a choice, and that I can (and indeed must) choose each day to love my wife, I was humbled. Why? Because it’s not just a choice that I have to make, it’s also a choice that she has to make. Awaking each day knowing that she must choose to love me or not love me places the onus on me to at least influence her choice.
Over the past 31 years I have not always been the best influencer. That is reason enough to love my wonderful wife not just 31 times more than the day we were married, but 31,000 times more.
This number is also significant because I am blessed to have a wife who exemplifies the characteristics delineated in chapter 31, verses 10-31, of the Book of Proverbs.
The writer of this portion of Proverbs 31 begins by positing the question: “A wife of noble character who can find?” For me, the answer is easy. I can, and indeed I did. My wife’s character is matchless. She is continually thinking of others, rarely of herself. She is continually concerned about others, rarely about herself. She is continually caring and providing for others, rarely for herself. She is noble character personified.
But there’s more! Because of her character, I am confident in her and lack nothing of value (v. 11). For as long as we have been (and will be) married, she has brought me only good, not bad (v. 12). She works diligently, never idly (vv. 17, 27). She is charitable to those in need (v. 20). She is strong and dignified, and has a great sense of humor (v. 25). She is wise and honors her word (v. 26). Most importantly, she loves the Lord (v. 30).
For all of these reasons, whenever I contemplate my wife, and consider the blessing she is, not just to me, but everyone who knows her, I can honestly state: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:29).
The greatest earthly influence in my life has been, and is, my wife. I am the man I am today because of her. Any success I have experienced or will experience in my adult life is because of her. Any legacy I may leave on this earth is because of her.
Thank you, Cinda, for the best 31 years I could have ever asked for or even imagined.
I love you more than mere words can express!