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Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

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Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

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When Emma was a young girl, her family moved from California to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. It was around 1910, and she remembered their horse-drawn wagon getting stuck on the muddy road.

Around age 20 Emma met a man named Larry, and they dated for a year or two before getting married. But it wasn’t long before Larry began to mistreat and abuse Emma. Much of the abuse was verbal, and the marriage was miserable. Back then, divorce was uncommon, so Emma stuck it out as long as she could. But finally after 23 miserable, unhappy years, Emma could take the abuse no longer, and she got a divorce.    

A few years later, Emma, now in her mid-40’s, met a man named Charles. She and Charles dated for a little while, and they soon fell in love and got married. What a different marriage it was for Emma. Charles was tender and kind—a true gentleman—and for the first time in her married life Emma felt truly happy. What a difference from her marriage to Larry! By contrast, Charles really loved and appreciated Emma, and he expressed it daily in numerous ways. He gave Emma the tender love relationship of a happy marriage. But sadly, after 17 years of marriage, Charles died rather suddenly. How hard this was for Emma, leaving her a widow in her early 60’s.

Larry comes calling

But guess what! When Larry found out that Emma’s second husband had died, he asked her for a date. Emma was skeptical at first, but Larry finally persuaded her things would be very different. Sure enough, Larry had changed; he was a different man. And before long, Larry begged Emma to marry him again and give him a second chance. Emma accepted, and they were married—their second marriage to each other. And sure enough, it was different. Larry had grown—he was kind, loving and caring for Emma, and he verbally expressed his tender love and appreciation for her every day. This second marriage to Larry lasted until his death 13 years later.

My wife and I first met Emma in Salem, Oregon, in 1980, a few years after Larry died. Emma was now around age 80. We visited her numerous times, and she would always tell us “her story.” She took great pleasure in telling us about her three marriages to two different men—and especially the second one with Larry.

She always had a glint in her eye when she told us that every day in that second round Larry would turn to her and say, “Have I told you lately that I love you?”—words taken from the popular song written by Scotty Wiseman for the 1944 musical film, “Sing, Neighbor, Sing,” with the repeating line, “Well darling I’m telling you now.” (Over the years there have been many versions of this well-known song by various performers.) Emma was so delighted to hear these words from Larry every day. He indeed had changed, and he won back Emma’s heart; they had 13 very happy years together.

Expressing love and appreciation

How different it could have been the first time, if only Larry had realized that marriage is a lifetime date; an affectionate, loving relationship. God intended male and female to be attracted to each other, and for the tenderness of dating and courtship to carry over into the marriage and to last for a lifetime of love, commitment and fidelity to each other. When a husband and wife are in a tender and loving, lifelong relationship—often with children and grandchildren—marriage and family life is beautiful! That is the way God intended.

For this lifetime date to be truly happy, husbands and wives must express their love and appreciation every day—verbally and by actions. If their love and appreciation is not expressed, how is their mate to know? It is important to spend sufficient time together daily, talking, eating meals together, occasionally going out for something special. It’s a lifetime date, as they grow ever closer and closer, becoming one in purpose and mind.

Remember “Emma’s story”! Let’s be sure to express our love and appreciation to our mate every day—verbally and by actions. And like Larry, maybe we’d also like to add, “Have I told you lately that I love you?”