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Dr. Dobson's Married Couples Devotional - June 9

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Surprise Party
by Gary Smalley

It was the eve of his graduation from a long, grueling master’s degree program. After four years of intensive, full‐time study, he was finally about to receive his diploma.

His wife planned a special party so many of their friends could come and help him celebrate the long‐awaited “day of deliverance.” There would be cake, refreshments, banners, streamers, swimming, croquet, and other yard games. Many people had already accepted her invitation to attend, and it looked like it would be a full house. Her husband, though, had other ideas. He secretly contacted each person who had received an invitation and revealed his plan to make the party a surprise in honor of her. Yes, there would be banners, streamers, and all the rest, but they would bear her name, not his.

He wanted to do something special to let her know how much he appreciated the years of sacrifice she had devoted to his goal. Working full‐time to put him through school and delaying her dreams of a house and family had, in many ways, been harder on her than the long hours of study had been on him.

When the day arrived, she was busy with preparations and last‐minute details, still convinced that all was going according to plan. He arranged to get her away from the party site, and while she was gone, he put up a huge banner with her name on it. During that time, all the guests arrived as well.

She returned to be greeted with a loud “SURPRISE!” When she realized what was going on, she could barely fight back the tears. Her husband asked a few people to share what they most appreciated about her. Then he stood before them and, with tender words of love and admiration, expressed his gratitude for all she had done for him. When he was through, everyone saluted her with a toast of iced tea.

The rest of the evening was a fun‐filled fiesta of laughing, catching up with one another, water volleyball, yard games, and more food than anyone could eat. It was a celebration of an experience they had shared, and by commemorating it in a special way, this husband created a life‐long, romantic memorial to his wife’s love and dedication.


I love this example of a wise husband. He understood that he had reached his goal largely because of the sacrifice and cooperation of his wife. He also had the wisdom to seize a perfect opportunity to honor her publicly. Frankly, I did the same thing when I received my Ph.D. Shirley had sacrificed for seven long years to help me complete my training. She thought the party was for me, but forty guests helped me tell her that she was the one being honored. I presented her with a sterling silver coffee and tea service set, which she still displays in our living room. I knew a man who finished his doctorate just a few years later and said nothing about the support and assistance his wife had given him. She was very hurt.

To honor someone means to show respect—to give deserved recognition and appreciation to him or her. How thoughtful are you of your spouse? Do you actively seek ways to elevate your husband or wife before friends or family? Those are vitally important questions.

We’ll talk this week about the importance of honor in marriage. Tonight, why don’t you each express why you feel honored to be married to your mate?
- James C Dobson

• “Surprise Party” by Gary Smalley. Taken from Love Is a Decision by Gary Smalley. © 1992. Word Publishing, Nashville, Tenn. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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This devotional is taken from Night Light for Couples. Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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