Guideposts Contributing Editor Marion Bond West and her husband, Gene, share how compiling of a pair of lists, each detailing what the other partner did to make the list-maker feel loved, helped to strengthen their marriage.
Marion: Hey, y'all—I'm Marion Bond West.
Gene: I'm Gene Acuff, her husband.
Marion: I have written a story for Guideposts, and it's called The List. When I saw my rheumatologist one day, he gave me a form to fill out and it said, "Are you happy, generally?," and it had never said that before.
That day, I was not happy—I had not been happy for a while—and I said, "No, I've lost my joy." So my rheumatologist said, "Tell me about losing your joy," and I said, "My marriage, something's wrong with my marriage."
He said, "It's just broken, but it can be fixed. You need to go to counseling."
The first thing the counselor had us do was to make a list of things...my list would be things that Gene does that let me know he loves, because I really needed to know that. Ten things.
And then Gene had to make a list of things that I do that he realizes that I love him. And these are small things. These are not like going on a trip or a big gift. Small things that we do around the house and we realize that each other loves us.
There is another list involved in this story: When I was a widow—I'd been a widow for four years—I made a list and I told God, "I really want to be a wife again if you'll bring me someone."
This list that I made of what I wanted in a husband was turned into an article that went into Guideposts, and I got some calls from some fellows who wanted to be married. But I got a call from a fellow in Oklahoma who was a professor and a small-time farmer and a minister. And I kind of wanted to marry a minister, not knowing what it would be like to be a minister's wife.
I'm going to share with you a list. I came straight home from counseling, sat down at my typewriter, and immediately made my list. So here are my things that let me know that he does love me:
Eye contact around the house.
A wink around the house.
Holding my foot when walking by the bed—and there's a story that goes with this: One night he just walked by and grabbed my toe, and I was so excited! I thought, "He really, really does still love me; he grabbed my toe!"
Going to sleep holding my hand.
Letting my cats sleep with us and loving my cats.
And praying with me.
Gene: First thing on my list was when we first go to bed and we hold each other.
Second thing on my list was when you get your hair done and you come home and I get to see all your curly hair.
When you cook me a roast.
Gene: And when you make me soup after we've had the roast.
Gene: When you go with me to Social Circle.
Marion: To Blue Willow.
Gene: To Blue Willow. That's my list of what makes me happy about her.
[cut to interior of car]
Gene: Let's sing it together, honey.
Marion: It's been a long time.
Both (singing): Have I told you lately that I love you? Can I tell you once again somehow?
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