by Jan J. Smith
Richard and I met at John Marshall when I was 15 and Richard was 16. We were pretty much oppo-sites. Richard wore a black leather jacket and blue suede shoes, rode a motor scooter, was a SCUBA diver, loved classical music & jazz, won a city-wide science fair competition, and had a pilot’s license. Despite being focused on having a good time, Richard knew he was going to be a doctor. I was a class leader, yearbook queen, cheerleader, in honor society, liked rock-n-roll music, didn’t like beer and cigarettes, and was planning to become a teacher. I usually dated the athletes, so by contrast, Richard was the most interesting and exciting man I had ever dated! Our dates included water skiing, fishing, flying, attending the symphony, and going to the movies. We continued dating through college and married after I graduated from OSU with a teaching degree and Richard completed his first year of medical school. I taught school putting Richard through medical school.
Richard became a workaholic, obsessed with his work as a neurosurgeon. I was very busy raising 3 active boys, in Bible studies, women’s groups, taught tole painting and developed a successful ladies’ belts business. These activities gave me a sense of importance that wasn’t being supplied by my “too busy with his practice” husband. But we were growing apart, living parallel lives, and were also spiritually separated. Richard had only a vague belief in God and thought if he could learn just enough, he would find the meaning of life and happiness. I discovered I had made Jesus the savior of my life, but not the Lord of my life. Now I trusted God and gave the Holy Spirit full control.
I learned I was not on Richard’s team. In fact, being a first-born, I had my own team, and I wanted to win. So, I quit trying to change Richard and accepted him the way he was. I claimed I Peter 3:1 (TPT), “Be devoted to your own husbands, so that even if some of them do not obey the Word of God, your kind conduct may win them over without your saying a thing.” Richard noticed my attitude toward him had changed. I made sure he was the family leader. When disagreements came, I strongly expressed my thoughts but surrendered the final say to Richard. He began to understand the responsibility of his final decision. I stopped “nagging” Richard, made sure our home was a safe, happy place to be, and gave him the respect that all men desire. Richard started noticing acceptance, admiration, and appreciation from me. I began telling him all the nice things I thought about him and looked for ways to please him. I was treating Richard like a king, and he began to want to treat me like a queen.
I began to share with other women and wrote and taught “Marriage Enrichment” courses. God changed me into the woman He wanted me to be so I could love Richard into the man God wanted him to be. Richard wanted the joy he saw in my life and finally, after praying 14 years for Richard, he gave his life to Christ. Women relate by talking, so Richard learned to concentrate on eye-to-eye contact as we openly communicated. He learned to express sympathy
and understanding rather than a solution to the problem unless asked. He changed from saying, “Aren’t you ready yet?” to “I’m ready when you’re ready.” Everyone needs physical touch, so we started holding hands a lot, even in church. Richard began verbalizing his love with lots of “I love you” along with lots of affection, romance, compliments,
helping with the dishes, bringing me flowers, and stopping at antique stores with me. I attentively listen to the frustrations of Richard’s day, believe in him, give him encouragement, and put love notes in his luggage when he goes out of town. I realized men relate by doing things together, so I joined Richard in activities of motorcycle riding, Stearman biplane flying, and motor coaching. We carve out fun, relational things to do together as a couple.
Another vital thing we learned to do is to pray together, out loud. At first, verbal prayer felt too personal and uncomfortable; but now with verbal prayer, we experience the joy of amazing closeness between ourselves and God. Praying together is a powerful experience and is the “cord of three strands” keeping us tightly bonded. Never underestimate the power of God in your life or your marriage!