Talking . . . wives tend to want to talk out every problem, but men can just turn stuff off, and it drives me crazy— me and every other woman I know. Eddie is a lot more willing to talk now, but even that takes negotiation. I’m always ready to chat in the evening over dinner, after my day at the shop. Before, not so much. I’m just not a morning person. It’s my only opportunity to think, drink coffee, and drag myself to exercise, but Eddie’s an early bird. His favorite time for communicating is before breakfast, and sometimes when he wants to discuss a big idea, he hunts me down while I’m on the treadmill.
I really hate when he does that. He’s barging in on my personal time. If you’ve ever tried starting a conversation with your husband during the fourth quarter of a football game or, worse yet, in overtime, it’s like that in reverse. It can take a lot of willpower for me to get past being mad about the interruption, but I’ll often take off the headphones and cut my workout short, even if I’m thinking, Seriously, Eddie, you know I don’t like talking at 7:00 a.m.!
He almost always has something interesting to say, and that helps me remember why we got together so long ago. We’re different people now, but after all the rough patches we survived along the way, we’re closer than ever.
For us, the key was reconnecting with having fun in our marriage. I’m not talking about going out and riding Ferris wheels. I’m talking about the joy of everyday shared experiences, such as going to the beach or playing with our grandchildren.
In short, we rediscovered our laughter. You probably can tell that I love to laugh, and nobody can make me laugh like Eddie Allen. We laughed a lot before we got married, and then life intervened. There wasn’t much to laugh about as we struggled to parent our kids through their turbulent teenage years. And then 9/11 happened. For weeks and months thereafter, you could have rolled a bowling ball through every retail store in the country— not just mine, all of them— and not hit a soul. The timing couldn’t have been worse for us. We had just moved into our new building and had a child in college, and our finances were stretched to the breaking point. There wasn’t any laughing then— we were scared to death of losing it all. It took everything we had to get through the day, but we stuck it out, worked it out, and talked it out.
Did we fight? You bet. Everybody in this world argues. Anyone who says they never argue with their spouse is lying. Either that or they’ve stopped talking to each other, which is worse. There have been harsh words and the slamming of doors in every marriage. Eddie and I were no different. We’d really go at it because he’s as strong willed as I am, and that’s saying a lot. But whenever we fought, it was always within the context of our determination to stay married, that legacy of perseverance we inherited from our parents. As angry as I might have been in the moment, I always had the comfort of knowing that when the smoke cleared and the shouting stopped, Eddie would still be by my side.
Ruth Bell Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham, may have said it best. Taking the major role in raising five children while her husband tended to the spiritual needs of the country, she was once asked— as First Lady Barbara Bush explained— whether she’d ever entertained the possibility of divorce. “Divorce? No. Murder? Yes,” she replied.
It’s inevitable that, over the years, you’ve hurt each other. That kind of pain can be hard to shake, or as Dorothy Parker put it, “Women and elephants never forget.” But God asks us to do exactly that— to forgive and keep no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). That’s difficult, but it’s necessary in marriage. You have to make the purposeful decision to forgive and move on or seek counseling to reach common ground.
Make the effort to turn the page and go forward together. This next phase of life has to start not just with laughter but also with forgiveness. Because so many things have changed over the years, and because recommitting makes a marriage feel fresh again, many women in this phase of life choose to renew their vows. Women feel like they’ve learned from experience and are ready to rededicate themselves to their partner with a renewed focus and with the savvy to do things right this time. Plus, it means I sell another fabulous dress. That’s a win- win.
Faith can help a lot. Ecclesiastes 4:12 teaches us that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. This is a picture of united spouses with faith in God at the center of the marriage. Early on, Eddie and I were far from regular in our church attendance because by the time Sunday rolled around, both of us were often too weary to move. Moving into this phase of life, that’s no longer the case. We get up on Sunday mornings and go to church— together— and we have become more involved as volunteers in various church activities.
Faith has strengthened our commitment to each other, and it has offered us a supportive community of people who reinforce it. If you’re not currently involved in a faith community with your spouse, I recommend getting started. Surrounding yourself with a community and friendships that support your relationship is important, in both good times and bad.
Taken from “Say Yes to What’s Next” by Lori Allen. Copyright ©2020 by Lori
Allen. Used by permission of Nelson Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson.
Women today are facing so much uncertainty—about life and the future. The need to pivot is stronger than ever, but many of us feel powerless to change or simply don’t know how to take that essential first step. For Lori Allen, business owner, breast cancer survivor, and star of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, these vital life lessons are the inspiration for her new book. Say Yes to What’s Next is more than just a guide for our best tomorrows, it’s the beginning of a life-makeover movement for women of all ages.
Lori Allen’s advice stems from the ups and downs of her personal life: from building one of the biggest and busiest bridal megasalons in the country to navigating her position in the sandwich generation and caring for a husband battling cancer during her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Lori shares her life experiences with confidence, wisdom, and her signature humor to model how today’s women—especially those of us approaching age fifty and beyond—can live out the coming years as the best of our lives.