One of the wonderful benefits of this approach, of always trying to learn from everyone, is that if you truly embrace it, in both formal and informal settings, you end up being inspired by and learning from your students more than you could ever have taught them. Indeed, as one of the rabbis observed about 2000 years ago, much have I learned from my teachers, more from my peers, but most of all from my students.
Now, beyond inspiring and teaching me, her former teacher, with her learning back then and growth since, Michelle writes the following about Jim, and evokes a marvelous lesson about what true love is really all about: "To me, true love is the ability to put another person's well being, happiness, and comfort before your own. Everyday that I spend with Jim, I'm witness to his selflessness and desire to put me and my well being before himself and his well being. What I find even more amazing is his ability to do so without any hesitation or second thoughts. Whether he's offering me the beanie (ski cap) off his head when we're out in the middle of winter and I've failed to dress warmly enough, or he's letting me have the last bite of his favorite snack that we've been sharing, or he's insisting that he can carry in a dozen grocery bags from the car as he hands me a single bag containing only the eggs- his selflessness is apparent everyday and it serves as a constant reminder of the love that he has for me. And everyday I feel like the luckiest girl in the world because I have found true love."
Jim writes about the mutual learning and inspiration they have shared, and how love itself can be a teacher: "We share all the same values... She keeps me honest and grounded in my daily life... She reminds me there is a balance between work and pleasure that too often was missing in my past. It has been great to watch Michelle as she becomes more confident and open. When we first met, she was relatively timid and reserved. (I have no idea what you mean, Jim...) It’s been a great feeling to watch her blossom. She seems more sure of herself and more willing to present her ideas and feelings than in the past and I like to think my love and support has played a role in that. "
So, beyond these specific lessons, Michelle and Jim teach us something vital. In order to make the spousal relationship work, we need to be open and able and willing to learn from each other. It is said that the two most important words in marriage are, "Yes, dear." Having been married myself for 21 years I know that to be true. However, what Michelle and Jim tell us is that it really only works, if we internalize that saying, try to see the other person's perspective, and learn from each other. Then it not only works, but does marvels for the life of a couple.
Michelle and Jim, thank you for this lesson. May you continue to learn from and be inspired by each other, as you continue to inspire us too.