By Alicia Bruxvoort
“Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.)” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (VOICE)
The best marriage advice I ever received was to stand on a chair and clap.
I was 20 years old with a sparkling ring on my finger and shimmering dreams in my heart. And I was certain my upcoming wedding marked the beginning of my own happily ever after.
I’d made it a habit during my engagement to meet frequently with my mentor about love and life and marriage. We’d huddle together in the back corner of the Student Union, chatting about the challenges of two selfish people becoming one. We’d discussed intimacy and affinity, fighting fairly and forgiving.
And we prayed. Oh, how we prayed over the marriage that would soon change my name and my life.
Then, one afternoon, I asked, “What’s your best advice for a happy marriage?” My mentor cupped her coffee mug and paused. Suddenly, she smiled and looked me straight in the eye.
“Be your husband’s greatest fan,” she said. “Find something to celebrate every day, then stand on a chair and cheer out loud for your man.”
She swallowed a giggle and glanced at her own wedding ring. “It may sound silly,” she conceded, “but it’s worked for us.”
I laughed and promised to refine my cheerleading skills. And, for a while, I kept my word.
As a newlywed, I stood on a battered old kitchen chair in our tiny white-walled apartment and applauded my man with gusto. I cheered when he landed a job delivering pizzas, when he made omelets for breakfast and when he hauled home baskets of clean clothes from the laundromat. I cheered when he passed his school exams and when he fixed our leaky faucet.
But I wasn’t the only cheerleader in our little family.
My husband climbed on chairs, too. He applauded when I made a batch of un-burnt brownies. He cheered when I survived my first day of student teaching. And he whooped and hollered when I got my first article published in the local newspaper. My man rooted for me when the rest of the world seemed silent, and his cheers drowned out my own internal critic’s noisy clanging.
Time passed, seasons changed and eventually those hands that had clapped with unabashed abandon became filled with babies, bills, diapers and the daily grind. And one morning, five kids and 10 years after I’d promised to be my husband’s greatest fan, I awoke to the hopeless hush of a weary heart.