Hold Hands When You Pray

It’s the sure repetition of small, beneficial acts in a marriage that creates value for the relationship.

Significance is often discovered in the small things. Fortunately, because taking care of the small stuff in a marriage often requires the least effort while offering the greatest return, it makes sense to do the easy stuff.

Remember the part about “sure repetition”, though. To do a small thing once may be incredibly significant … especially if you’ve never done it before … but the true value accumulates through faithful repetition.

Here’s a simple example. My wife and I hold hands during prayers. Always. At weddings. During church services. Before meals. At building dedications. Before ballgames. At family gatherings. We started doing it before we were married and because it feels good, we’ve continued.

Some may say, “Well, Rick, I don’t want to hold my wife’s hand during prayers. That sounds like a gimmick.” If that’s the case, then maybe it would be for you. I’m merely sharing an example of how the repetition of a simple, beneficial act works for me and my wife.

What I do know is this: if we didn’t both perceive that holding hands during prayers was of great value, the practice would have ended at some time during the last twenty years. The sure repetition of this small, beneficial act has created value for both of us.

So what do I get from the simple act of holding hands during prayers?

It’s all personal. I love holding my wife’s hand because it makes me feel good. I love being connected to her. I love the reminder that we stand together before God as a couple, as parents, as friends. I love the sense of tradition and the notion that “this is our thing, we do this because we enjoy it.” I love being reminded at the beginning of each prayer that this is a way we give attention to each other. (Maybe God smiles.) And here’s an odd one: over the years I’ve enjoyed an occasional peek around a room (sorry God) during prayers and I’ve noticed how few couples hold hands anymore. I enjoy being reminded that she still loves to hold my hand. It makes what we do feel special.

If you’ve not done it in a while, you might surprise your partner by taking her hand during a prayer. To avoid a startle (if it’s been a while), maybe slip your pinky finger around hers. I can’t suggest you’ll immediately get as much from it as we do because we’ve done it for twenty years. It’s part of our marriage DNA. I merely offer it as an example.

Whether you hold hands during prayers or not, I do think every couple can find small, beneficial acts of attention that are easy to do. And I know from my own experience, these acts will accumulate value for for the couple as they do them consistently over the years. When repeated over time, it’s these small, beneficial acts in a marriage that have huge potential to add great value to a marriage.

Happily Married

September 5, 2009

I am a happily married man!

I enjoy my wife and our life together. Today I made reservations for us to return to our honeymoon cabin in Arkansas next March for our 20th anniversary. I’m filled with joy over it.

I have a photo which I took on our honeymoon. It sits on my desk. It’s a reminder of many things for me, but it serves primarily as a memorial to joy, overcoming fear, and commitment for the long haul.

Married just a few days and exploring Eureka Springs, Arkansas, we drove by an observation tower. My wife pointed and exclaimed, “let’s go look!”

I turned around and parked. Afraid of heights, I studied the tower and noticed the first platform about 15 feet above the ground. I could do that. I expected we would stop there, look, take a picture and return to earth.

Robbie hurried across the parking lot and started up first. I followed her carefully, walking slowly up to the first observation level.

She wasn’t there!

Instead I heard her running up the metal steps to the top. I faced a dilemma. I faced a critical decision: “Do I stand here and wait for her to come down (and look like a wimp) or do I venture after her to the top?”

I often consider how current events will impact my future. I knew, if proven a wimp on my honeymoon, I’d never feel good about it. I swallowed my fear and with both hands grasping the stair rails I slowly climbed to the top.

A few minutes later, with the tower swaying in the wind and my stomach knotted up, I stepped slowly and gently from the last step onto the platform at the top of the tower. Robbie was leaning out at the edge looking across the valley. We were alone at the top of the world.

“Come here,” I said, standing near the stairs trying to hide as much of my terror as I could, “and kiss me.”

We kissed. I held my old Pentax camera out at arms’ length, pointed the lens toward our kissing faces, and I tripped the shutter. “Gotta go,” I muttered in fear and started slowly and carefully back toward Earth. In my opinion, it’s the best photo I’ve ever shot.

The angle, the lighting, the wind … it’s an excellent photo. She’s taller than me in the photo because I was hunkered low near the stairs. The wind is blowing her hair in my face. We’re captured against a beautiful blue sky. The photo is in a gold frame in a red heart-shaped mat with two doves cut into the mat’s upper corners.

It’s a picture of swirling, giddy, joy. Just the two of us kissing, both high, on top of the world on a beautiful, breezy, blue-sky day. She, full of energy and possessed of all graces, overflowing with the excitement of a newlywed, and filled full of hope for a splendid life ahead. I, light-headed at the height of it all, dizzy, holding on to her, the only sure thing I find to hold at the top of the world, up near the clouds.

I love that photo because it’s a metaphor for all that marriage has been for me – the daily opportunity to climb happy towers with my wife – living high on love on the top of the world. You may think I gush, but I tell you, it’s true!

I am one happily married man!