Harry, keeper of the Loudon gym, claimed he was "too old to change" this fine December morning. "Well, Harry, seems to me you have changed quite a bit over this year? Haven't you lost tons of weight?"
"Yes, I'm proud to say I lost an entire foot in my waist line. I found out last week being measured for the tux for my daughter's upcoming wedding. Four more inches and I'm back to where I was at 18 years old."
I argued, "If you can change your body that much, you can surely change other things about your life."
The conversation started when I pulled my ipod earphones off while doing my keep-the-tummy-jelly-roll-to-a-minimum ab crunches and asked Harry if he was ready for Christmas. He leaned back in his chair, leisurely put his arms up behind his head and eventually replied, "Oh, I guess."
From his lazy response and generally laid back personality I clued in. "Oh, Harry, you're not one of those husbands who just show up at Christmas after your wife has done all the work are you?"
He got a little animated in his reply, "Well, I can't change now after all these years. It's not easy like losing weight. I'm too old to change who I am. I can't change my behavior."
"Oh, yes, you can. Losing weight is an incredible behavior change. If you can change your exercise and eating habits, you can change your marriage for the better. Don't tell me you don't even buy your wife a present?"
"Truevyne, don't get on me. If I go to all that trouble, she won't like whatever I buy her. But I did I tell Jason (excellent owner of the gym) I was going to spend $20 on a present for her this year."
I held back my guffaws out of respect and spoke, "Knock her socks off and give her a diamond solitaire or one pearl pendant."
Harry becomes clearly irritated at this conversation. "I already give my wife my whole paycheck and she has everything there is to own."
"You are a good man, Harry. Good marriages, like everything else worth having, take work. If you need advice on great presents, my husband is the best. He gives me the most wonderful of gifts for every occasion. He never misses."
At this point, three other men heading past us on their way out the door jumped in. "Keep your husband quiet, truevyne. My wife doesn't know any better, and he'll make us all look bad."
I never want the kind of marriage where we share the same house, meals, and bed but not much else. I want the happily ever after, but seventeen years after "I do", I know it takes intentionality. My goal is to keep my husband as my very best friend. If I take him for granted or guess he won't like anything I do for him anyway, then trouble is afoot. If we feel distant from one another, it's time to roll up our sleeves and struggle for as long as it takes to put things right again. As a wise man once said, it's hard to stay "tight as the bark on a tree".
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