My dad and I were the only two people in the living room that night. It was about 9:30 p.m., and my mom was putting my two little kids to bed in her guest room. As I sat there with my dad, I couldn't help but reflect on everything that had led to that moment.
It had been an exhausting eight months of pregnancy. I had not only been growing a baby and taking care of my family. I had been growing an online women's ministry, through all forms of social media, with a million monthly readers and 40,000 followers across the globe. I had been keeping up with thousands of e-mails and messages while also trying to keep up with two busy preschoolers. Every area of my life had felt overwhelming some days.
I hadn't planned to take on the enormous responsibility of caring for the hearts of so many women online, but God wasn't surprised. He knew exactly what would happen when I sat down at my computer eight months earlier.
I thought I was writing a simple letter on my blog to other overwhelmed women struggling to balance the responsibilities of being a wife and a mom. But God knew I would wake up the next morning to find that my post had been shared around the world, forever changing lives (my own included). He knew my online readership would go from a thousand followers to 40,000 in just a few months. He knew that nearly 10 million people would read those words and say, "I feel the same way."
And God knew what they would need next. He knew they would need to know my dad's secret.
I had received countless messages from women saying, "Yes, I struggle to be both wife and mom. But what do I do about it? How do I balance both? How do I remember to be a wife when it takes all I've got to be a momma?" I wanted to give them a simple answer. I wanted to provide a solution that would change their marriages and restore their hope. But I didn't have it. I didn't know what to tell them, because I was struggling myself to figure out how to keep the love in my marriage fresh.
But as I looked over at my dad that night, I thought maybe, just maybe, he could tell me what to do next.
My dad is the most patient man I know. I have never heard him raise his voice to anyone, including my mom and my sister and me. He forgives quickly. He loves deeply. And he is always rational and purposeful with his words. Most of what I know about God and His love for me, I learned from and experienced through my relationship with my dad.
This is why I knew I could trust my dad's advice about marriage. It is because of the way he has treated my mom for nearly 40 years. He has always been a wonderful example of a godly husband and father, and I have always been able to go to him for advice about anything.
I remember sitting in the living room looking at him that night and saying, "Dad, what do I tell them? How do I help these women rediscover their marriages in the middle of everything else? How do I help them fall back in love? What do I say to the women who feel as if too much time has passed, who fear it is too late?"
‘Just tell them to do what I do'
What my dad said next changed my life. Sitting across from me in his wingback chair with a late-night cup of coffee in his hands and with the only light coming from the lamp over his shoulder, he leaned in as if to tell me a secret.
"Becky, just tell them to do what I do," he whispered.
I was curious. What secret had my dad been keeping for the last 37 years? What was his trick to keeping love and joy and peace in his heart all the days of his married life?
He looked over his shoulder to make sure my momma wasn't coming, and with a twinkle in his eye and a sly little smile, he whispered, "Every day when I wake up, I tell myself it is the first day I am married to your mom."
He waited for me to catch the truth behind his words, and he flashed a grin when he saw the light bulb come on for me. He nodded. It was as if he knew I was beginning to understand how powerful it would be to live that way. How transformative. How revolutionary.
"Becky, if every day I wake up and tell myself that it is the day I married your mom, then it changes everything. She is just my bride. She is the woman I fell for, and she doesn't have to prove a thing to earn my love. It's a new start every day. There isn't a yesterday full of hurt or offense. There isn't a need for forgiveness. There isn't anything I need to overlook. There isn't a chance for space to separate us or for us to feel as if we are an old married couple. It's just new love every day."
And there it was. My dad's secret.
The love that my dad shows my momma is an endless sort of love. A love that doesn't seem manufactured. It is limitless, but I had never understood it. I had never understood how he could love so effortlessly, forgive so easily, and live so joyfully.
But the reason was right there in front of me—spoken out loud for the very first time. For the last 37 years, my dad has daily made the decision to live as if he were a newlywed—and that attitude has made all the difference.
On FamilyLife Today®, author and blogger Becky Thompson encourages moms to move their marriages off the back burner through a 21-day challenge of rediscovery. Listen to the broadcast here. Becky’s book, Love Unending, will help you rediscover your marriage in the midst of motherhood. Formatted as a 21-day devotional, each daily challenge, reflection, and prayer will refocus your attention, recenter your heart, and reignite the romance. Order Love Unending and join the 21-day challenge!
Adapted from Love Unending by Becky Thompson. Copyright © 2017 by Becky Thompson. Adapted by permission of WaterBrook, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.