Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary, sharing special memories and expressing our appreciation for one another in many ways. The song “My Tribute”—sung by a soloist friend at our wedding and again by Daughter #2 at our 25th—was repeated again last evening. Today I’d like to offer a tribute to my hero—my husband, a writer’s spouse of 40 years—from another perspective.
How can I say thanks?
With beautiful words, as a writer should, no? ? Because I suspect that marriage to a wordsmith and storyteller who lives at least part-time in the pages of a manuscript means something of a challenge. Especially with the sensible mind and hands-on skills my man has.
What’s it like to be married to a writer? He’ll proudly inform you that he’s learned the difference between an adjective and an adverb by now, but please don’t mention periods and commas. Probably I drive him crazy with talk about dialogue and plot points, but our debates on themes is a highlight for us both.
All those years ago, when I first started writing on a regular basis, he didn’t quite get me, though. We resembled the couple in the chick flick Letters to Juliet a little, where the individual interests of Juliet and her chef fiancé blinded them to the significance of the other’s dreams.
But over the long run, I’m thankful that he’s oh-so-different from me. The diversity of gifts and talents helps our team function. The varied notes compose the harmony. We’ve learned to work together—each utilizing our strengths—toward a mutual passion for Jesus and a mutual purpose in living for His kingdom.
“So let the road wind Up the hill or down,
O’er rough or smooth, The journey will be joy.
Still seeking what (we) sought When (girl and) boy—
New friendship, high adventure, and a crown—
(Our) hearts will keep The courage of the quest
And hope the road’s last turn Will be the best.”
–Henry Van Dyke (paraphrased)
What does a writer need in a spouse?
Over 40 years, my hubby’s supported me in four dimensions…
- Practical relief — He’s the smartest person I know in terms of manual craftsmanship. He cooks, he does laundry, he’s the best of dads. He invests in books, courses, and conferences, making sure my laptop works even better than his. And he fixes everything from computer crashes to plumbing!
- Intellectual stimulation – You might say he’s my go-to consultant on motors, mechanics, guns, and guys. He may not be a writer, but he’s a willing discussion partner who knows my characters almost as well as our kids. He’s always game to pick apart a movie plot with me or vacation in another story research setting. We love to travel together and learn something new every day.
- Emotional encouragement – He’s given me increased understanding over the years, both in terms of time to work on a book and time to get away from it when necessary. He stays up much later every night than he’d naturally prefer (“Just let me finish one more paragraph, honey.”) My world has been filled with the romance and joy that relaxes and renews my heart, because he gifts me the space to dream and top up my creative well.
- Spiritual grounding – My husband is the most faith-filled and faithful person I know. From him, I’ve learned the power of tenacious devotion in inconvenient moments, of fulfilling promises and staying the course. He keeps us focused on our priorities in life and ministry. When everything goes wrong (as it frequently does!), he will never give up, even when I’m tempted.
Standing at this 40-year milestone—not yet at the end of the quest, but close enough to glimpse the castle gates in the distance—I pause to offer a tribute of praise to…
The Hero of My Story
Though he wears so many hats and plays so many roles, he’s my hero in each one. “True heroism,” said tennis champion Arthur Ashe, “is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others…but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
That’s my hero. Through the years, for better or for worse, his place in my story is irreplaceable, his input priceless. Of course he’s not perfect, but he exemplifies the scriptural mission: “Serve one another in love” (Gal. 5:13).
In these days of cynical anti-heroes, I prefer the genuine hero who, though he struggles with flaws and vulnerabilities, fights on with kindness and courage. The character with character. The upright man in a world often gone wrong. The good knight, in shining armor, valiant for the truth.
How can I say thanks for my husband’s ministry and companionship in the adventure story of our lives? No matter how eloquent, words fail. Compared to all he has done to show his love for me over four decades, these few lines in a post seem but feeble homage.
Though he may never write a book, he is still the romantic hero of every story for me. While we’ve worked more than played and dreamed more than done, the truth is we’ve been useful and happy.
And my prayer is that our final chapter—the road’s last turn—will be the best. Hand my hero the crown, not me.