As is the case with many a new bride, the first year of my marriage was probably the most difficult. Within weeks of saying “I do”, I was dealt a nasty shock. It was suddenly quite apparent that it was no longer all about ME. Having been the Prima Donna of my life’s stage up until then, it was a rude awakening to realize that I was no longer the star of the show. I’d been waltzing along to my own internal music, oblivious to the differing beats of others. Now, I was going to have to learn to keep time with someone else.
In the physical realm I have the proverbial two left feet. This held true in the abstract as well. I entertained girlish fantasies of gracefully skimming my way through the rose-petaled waters of marital ecstasy, my Prince at the ready to lift and spin me at my whim. Reality was, I trod upon my partner’s toes on more than one occasion and those spectacular lifts I’d imagined sometimes ended very very badly. I felt wronged somehow. This was not how I had envisioned it. We were supposed to be magically attuned to each other’s needs and live happily ever after, right?
I became depressed. I’m embarrassed to admit that I chose to dwell on what little negative there was. My new husband was bewildered. Unsure of what he had done so terribly wrong, he sat me down one day, looked intently into my eyes, and said something I’ll never forget. Holding my limp hand in his warm ones, he said:
“We’re only going to be as happy as we want to be. And I, for one, want to be blissfully happy. I want to be that old couple someday that others look at and say, “Wow, I want a marriage like that!” I think we can have that if we want it.”
I took his lesson to heart that day. However, I would be a big fat liar if I tried to say all was rainbows and lollipops from there. There were a lot of missteps, mostly on my part, I’m afraid. Selfishness dies a slow and ugly death in some of us. In spite of this, there is one thing that we did regularly early on that was, and continues to be, instrumental in seeing us through the less than blissful days.
A couple of times a year we would relive our story. It wasn’t intentional at first. It would usually just start with a small reminder of something about our ‘falling in love’ days. Before long we’d be reliving the details of that magical time. As we recalled the wonder, the intensity, the sheer intoxication of falling in love an amazing thing happened. The emotions would return, and once again I would experience so many things that can so easily be forgotten in the day to day:
That peculiar feeling of not quite touching the ground when I walked.
How the corners of my mouth would pull up of their own volition into a wide silly grin as I thought of him.
The all-consuming joy of simply being together.
How the sound of his voice made my stomach feel all fluttery.
The incomparable feeling of finally being understood and accepted.
Like a couple of junkies, we became addicted to the memories. The strains of old songs, pulled off of the dusty CD rack, bring back dreamy smiles. The scent of my ‘for special’ perfume, purchased on our honeymoon becomes a subtle invitation. Reminiscing became a deliberate exercise. I have written our story down for our children, and they have heard it from our lips time and again. Each time in the retelling we can’t help but get all googly-eyed and the kids hide small smiles as they roll their eyes in ‘disgust’.
Our story has become our legacy. A legacy of wonder and an example of what love really is. And that being, quite simply put, a choice.
Every day I have a choice. I can dance on this stage of life insisting on my own music, or I can blend with my partner’s and we can create a beautiful pas de deux. Or perhaps a tango if the mood strikes. Either way, it takes two.
I can choose to dwell in negativity and build walls around my heart. Or I can focus on the beauty in my world and build standing stones for my marriage. Standing stones that commemorate the magic of falling in love. Over and over and over again.
“Above all, maintain an intense love for each other since love covers a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 (HCSB)
Today marks 19 years since I pledged my heart to this amazingly wise man. So many years, yet not nearly enough time. So my question to you, my married friends, is this: When did you last take a moment to remember? To recall the music, the scents, the words, the joy, the humor of your love story?
*To read about the First Lesson My Amazingly Wise Husband Ever Taught Me, click here.