Spring Semester of my sophomore year also marked the beginning of a very significant friendship for me. I woke up late one Sunday morning and in an effort to expedite getting ready, I skipped doing my hair. I put on a straw sunhat and a sundress. During the greeting time at church an older couple in their seventies came over and introduced themselves. They loved my outfit with the hat. They said women traditionally wore hats with their dresses to church when they were younger and they loved seeing me in that combination. I thanked them for their complement and they invited me to join them for lunch.
They offered to drive to lunch so I walked to their car with them. They had a huge white Lincoln with a bench-seat in front. They told me to climb on in up front with them. He drove, while his wife sat in the middle to be next to him, and I sat on the passenger side of the bench-seat. They told me they have always bought cars with a bench-seats so they could sit right next to each other. I had to admit it was adorable.
The town we lived in was a vacation destination and had many upscale resorts. They took me to one of these resorts for one of the fanciest meals I had had up to that point in my life. It was a brunch buffet with omelets, typical breakfast food, crab legs, caviar, fruits, etc. It was quite the spread. At lunch, I learned that he was an architect and I shared I was an architecture student. We were both pleased at that commonality between us. They shared they had met in college and married after graduation some fifty years earlier.
For a couple who had been married for fifty years, they acted like newlyweds. They couldn’t get enough of each other. You could immediately tell they were deeply in love. I had never witnessed a connection like theirs. The more I got to know them the more I fell in love with them. They sought me out at church to sit with me. They took me out to lunch on a regular basis. We went to every fancy resort brunch. While the fancy brunches were nice, the other place they took me was Baskin Robbins for milkshakes. I must admit having an ice cream milkshake for lunch was not something I had ever done and I was thoroughly delighted at the idea.
As our friendship continued they dubbed themselves my “University Parents.” They invited me over to their home. They welcomed me into their lives. They gave me a much-needed vision for what marriage could be. I saw a man who was gentle and kind, who placed the needs of his wife over his own and loved her deeply. They gave me hope and restored a healthy vision of what a relationship could be. I needed that more than ever. I needed to know that could be real and not just in fairy tales. I needed to see a woman who felt loved, treasured and safe with her husband. Even now as I reflect on the hope their friendship brought me, I am moved to tears. I needed them in my life.
When I met my now husband, we started going out on double-dates. After we got engaged, they did our pre-marital counseling and we were so blessed by their wisdom and insight. They gave us the best marriage advise we have ever heard and we follow it to this day: “Your spouse needs to trust you implicitly. Therefore, you should never say anything negative about them to other people.” It made sense and it has brought so much freedom and peace knowing that my husband has never said anything negative about me behind my back. He doesn’t complain about me. I don’t complain about him. It’s not that either of us is perfect; it’s that we want that freedom and trust. We are in this to encourage and support one another, not to tear each other down.