I remember it like it was yesterday. We were a group of moms—some younger and some older, learning about each other, our husbands, our kids, and beginning to serve together at church. As conversations go, the laughter and sharing deepened and we began to talk about our frustrations at home, which led me to starting in on my husband’s faults. Before I could get too far, one of the older ladies, Donna, looked at me with love in her eyes and correction in her voice saying, “Cheryl.” She didn’t need to say any more than that one word because I knew she was stopping me from crossing a line. I felt a bit embarrassed, not because of her, but because of my own actions.

Over the years I have often thought of that day and the learning opportunities that came out of it. I began to watch Donna and her husband, Jerry, who now have celebrated 50 years of marriage. Watching, I saw great love and respect from both of them toward each other and those around them. They are gentle and kind with their words, genuinely interested in what others are saying and doing, and very willing to jump in and serve as they can. Not only have I seen Donna and Jerry model great love and respect for each other, I have been able to see how their children model that behavior in their lives and marriages as well.

I also realized the damage I could have done to my relationship with my husband from the derogatory remarks I was about to make in front of a group of women. Being caught up in a moment is a poor excuse, and I am forever thankful for a woman who was willing to speak to me with correction and kindness. I would be devastated if my husband would have done that to me within a group of men— why would I do this to him? From that moment on, I knew that I could no longer air my petty issues with my husband in front of others.

Marriage is hard work, but without love and respect it is even more difficult. As with most things, the work is worth it. Neither one of us are perfect in our relationship, but we both desire to have an atmosphere in our home where God’s love fills us up so we can give it away to others, and that means to each other not just the people we are “ministering to.” Through mutual love and respect in our marriage, my husband and I have grown in ways that glorify our relationship with God, both individually and as a couple.

As we look at our own journey and how far we have come, we are praying for our daughters and their future marriages. We pray that they will know what it means to treat their spouses the way they want to be treated and, through that, they will choose wisely. We desire that the grace God has lavished on us will be felt and shown through the generations to come.

I also pray that there will always be women like Donna who speak in grace and truth to those who need reminders to honor the ones we are sharing life with. And may I be one of those women.

By the way, Donna doesn’t even remember that day and the conversation she so gently guided.

That’s okay, I remember.