My mother’s parents were married for sixty-five years.
They were Afrikaans so we addressed them as Oupa and Ouma. Up until the day my Oupa died they still held hands and had lively conversations with each other.
Before my Oupa retired, the first thing he would do when he got home from work was to go and find my Ouma. It didn’t matter if she was cooking in the kitchen or working in the garden—he wouldn’t just shout hello—he would find her, give her a kiss on her cheek and say “Ek is tuis” – I am home. Home to my Oupa was not his house, home was his wife. He was home, reunited with the woman he loved. He would then go and sit in his chair in the lounge.
It didn’t matter what my Ouma was doing. If she was cooking, she would remove the pot from the stove. If she was working in the garden, she would stop. As soon as he sat down she would go and fetch his slippers from the bedroom, kneel down before my Oupa, unlace his shoes, take them off his feet and slip his slippers on. My Oupa’s hand would rest gently on her head or her shoulder.
My Ouma was not a subservient woman. Far from it. She was a vocal member of the community, earned extra income by baking and selling her cakes, was a prominent member of her church and was very much her own woman.
And yet, it was an honor for her to kneel before him and take his shoes off because those shoes represented his love for her. From Monday through to Saturday he would put his shoes on and go to work to earn the money that enabled her and their children to live. As a motor mechanic he would spend all day on his feet so for her it was a privilege to be able to take his shoes off for him at the end of a long day at work.
I could have learnt a lot from her in the beginning of my marriage. My husband, Steve, would come home after a hard day’s work, sit on the couch and take his steel toe cap boots off. He would then just leave them there. At night when I was tidying up I would feel such resentment about his boots lying in the lounge and would pick them up and literally throw them into the bedroom wishing I could throw them at him. Who did he think I was? His maid?
Over the years, however, that resentment has vanished as his steel toe cap boots have come to represent his love for me and our girls. He wears those boots from Monday to Friday and often on a Saturday and Sunday when he is called out on a job. He wears them because he loves us, he wears them to earn money so that we can live. He wears them because he cares about us.
How I wish I hadn’t wasted so many years resenting those boots left lying in the lounge, making such a big deal about having to ‘tidy’ up after him. Instead I wish I had knelt down on my knees before him and taken those boots off his tired and aching feet and thanked him for wearing them.
My husband embodies Deuteronomy 15:10:
Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand too.
He has always given to us generously and without a grudging heart, despite my lousy attitude at times, and God has blessed the work of his hands.
I have also learnt through this, that often the things that irritate us the most about our spouses, are the things we should be the most grateful for if we would but only look at them from a different perspective.
Originally posted on http://www.startmarriageright.com/2015/11/love-wears-steel-toed-boots/