When I was a child, a common summer event was a trip to my mother’s parents’ farm. Preparing her four children – three boys and a girl – all under the age of 10 – for the 90-minute ride was a daunting feat. How did she do it? It was her authoritative voice that froze our little hearts with a healthy fear: âDon’t mess with mom. “
We took the plane leaving Danville. Heading south on Route 1, past Westville, Paris and Marshall, where she turned east towards the Wabash River, through the small town of Palestine, which led to the farm.
As both parents would live to be 99 years old, the farm has become a deep root in our lives. Childhood memories return: icy well water with its iron aftertaste, the healthy smell of freshly cut hay, the chorus of coyotes that begins at nightfall.
But there’s another keepsake that serves as an introduction to today’s article on Building a Happy Marriage (or Relationship). When my grandfather asked me to go to Palestine to buy food for his pigs, I was startled, âof course! Along the way, I saw an old dilapidated wooden building by the river.
“What is that?” I asked.
“It’s the old flour mill,” he replied.
âTwo huge circular stones – one turning clockwise, the other counterclockwise – were dying corn or wheat into flour or cornmeal. The mill was fed by the currents of the river, which pushed a paddle wheel which made the stones turn.
He laughed to himself. It should be mentioned that my grandfather had a reputation for joking.
I asked, âWhat’s funny, Grandpa?
âWell, Dick, every time I see this mill it reminds me of marriage. You see, when you’re young and newly married, every man or woman has their own advantages – but after a few decades guess what? Much like the two stones that grind each other, marriage partners grind all rough edges until a smooth surface appears.
“What closed the mill?” I asked.
He replied, “The fault of the electricity.”
After setting the scene, here is today’s story. The research results have identified one of the reasons why marriages fail. What’s her name? Cancelation. Invalidation is a destructive style of communication, where one person devalues ââthe other. Here is an example :
Dr John Brown, professor of history at Notre Dame, is moving into a new office. After taking piles of papers out of his closet, he saw a penny lodged in a crack in the floor. He picked up the Lincoln penny and his eyes popped – it was dated 1909. Being a numismatist – a coin collector – his heart was racing when he saw the inscription VDB, S. He had found a very rare coin.
Like a puppy with a new chew toy, he rushed to tell his wife, Mary, who is a lawyer. Mary, reading a complex legal brief, heard her husband enter the office.
âMary, I found a 1909 VDB, S Lincoln penny! “
As Mary inspected the room, she said sarcastically, “It’s so worn out I can’t see the date.” Is it VD or STD? Deeply hurt, John made this silent promise: Never talk to Mary about anything I appreciate.
Now let’s correct Mary’s statements. Mary stood up, gave her husband a hug and asked, “What does VDB, S mean?” “
He smiled: âVDB are the initials of the creator of the coin, the S is the currency – San Francisco, where it was made. “
Mary exclaimed, “let’s celebrate over lunch.”
At lunch, John told Mary something he had never said before.
âMy dad would take me to the bank every Friday afternoon and pick up rolls of coins. We were looking for parts that we needed to fill our parts books. The only unfilled slot in my father’s penny book was a 1909 VDB, S.
Jean continued. When he died, I was 10 years old. After his death, I couldn’t bear to touch his coins, so I collected on my own, using my own books.
Mary asked: “Are you going to put this penny in your father’s book?”
âYes,â he replied.
That evening he showed Mary her father’s completed coin book and read the words her father had written in the book.
“Dear John: This album of parts will be yours someday – I hope it helps you remember how much I love you. Father.”
Conclusion: A penny, an old flour mill and a grandfather who made you laugh. What is it about? These are three key points:
1. The day after my grandfather died, a stack of joke books was found in his dresser. The message – making people laugh or building a good marriage takes work.
2. The flour mill wedding model is OK, but, when combined with communication skills, things improve faster.
3. Who can you blame? You come home from work exhausted. You open the door and no one greets you. You turn on the light and the bulb blows. Your children are upstairs in their bedrooms, playing video games. Your partner left this note – “Fridge broken, food spoiled – here’s a box of cornflakes.” “
Blame your spouse, yourself, your children? Never! Blame it on electricity! (The content in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional treatment.)