Do You & Your Valentine Still Have “It”?
We had it.
And then we didn’t.
And now we do.
Or maybe our derelict haiku.
Today marks the twentieth year of our first date. I recall the duds for the occasion…don’t even worry about that black velvet collar on my washed denim vest. Stay focused, friend.
I, a first-year high school English teacher in Anderson, lived alone in an apartment complex for seniors. There was a premium on cheap and safe. To the tune of $375/month.
Pearl, one of my downstairs neighbors, lay in wait for stirrings. She’d station herself by the door and secure me in an endless web of chatter. She could masterfully string together seventy-five topics of conversation without permitting one exit opportunity. Flo, on the contrary, was not one for interaction but she loved the shows at a generous volume.
Now who’s distracted? Back to the date…
When he was just around the corner, Chris phoned to clarify directions. I readied for the imminent knock at the door.
An hour and a half later, he had yet to arrive.
Baffled when there was a rap, I answered with curiosity tinted by annoyance. Just after his call, he overlooked a stop sign, careening into a jalopy truck that disassembled upon impact, and totaled his own car. He ambled to my apartment once the fanfare was done.
The date still happened; it just included a stop at your local seedy tow shop.
A lot of life happens in twenty years. A hearty helping of belly laughter. A lot of adventure. A lot of sobbing. A lot of anger. A lot of change. Growth. Pain. Arguments. Triumphs. Blessings. Losses. Failures. Dreams. Travels.
That’s a lot of wear and tear on a duo.
Somewhere along the trip, life can get really serious and love can become a lot less fun. The whole lot of it can feel like a suffocating mass of obligation and duty. Like a wet blanket, the weight of responsibility can smother affection. Haven’t you ever noticed? Anything we feel we have to do, we no longer want to.
I hope that hasn’t been your experience, but it has been ours.
We achiever bees drove hard in our marriage to win, to climb, to have, to do and saddled ourselves with a current of competition and tension that decimated our relationship. We found ourselves relationally bankrupt and threadbare. We depleted “it.”
And, like many situations, a crisis demanded change – one way or the other. Sometimes you’ve got to take the cushions off the couch to find the missing socks and $6.43 in change, if you know what I mean.
And we found “it” again. Stella’s got her groove back, and we are grateful.
The Sure Sign You Still Have “It”
You could possibly find ninety-one different “sure signs” your relationship is healthy, but I have one as my yardstick. Having had it, lost it, and found it again, there is a common denominator that remains timeless, seasonless, ageless. And it’s laughter. Do you laugh together? Are you having fun together?
Fun is not optional.
Laughter is goofy and intimate and sexy all at once.
There is a life current to a relationship that’s either feeding power to the thing or not. It’s the whole light bulb/battery/circuit mechanism that most of us relied on our dude lab partners to wire correctly. When the circuit is complete, the bulb shines. To me, laughter is the light bulb illuminated. It’s the evidence that this thing is working like it should.
And we have to be watchful that duty doesn’t sit its overweight backside on our mirth and squash it to death. Embrace silly. Give way to an impromptu family dance party while preparing dinner. Do something together neither of you have ever done before. Go on a paintball date. Hang twinkly lights on your back porch. Cook dinner on the fire pit. Court the frivolous.
Life is serious and dark and hard and heavy enough on its own; rebel with a good pee-in-your-pants chortle every now and then. Do not go gentle into that good night…
No worries, the serious and dark and hard and heavy will still be there, but we have permission to stop waiting on it like a watched pot.
I hope you laugh. And keep laughing.
What If You’ve Lost “It”?
Now what? What do you do if, in the quiet place of your heart, you know “it” is gone? Let me tell you a story…
There was a popular and well-to-do young man, around thirty years-old, from a respected family. By all indications, the odds of life were in his favor and his future was quite promising. He was thick with friends and really wanted for little. Until he became sick. His condition continued to worsen quickly, and he succumbed to his illness, much to the horror and despair of all who knew him. The injustice of his untimely death wrought mourning throughout the whole community.
Four days later, having missed the funeral, a close friend arrived in town to be with the grieving family. He wept over the death of his friend.
And then He gave him back what he had lost.
His people called him Lazarus.
You don’t get more dead than four days dead. In the world’s eyes a situation doesn’t get more hopeless than death.
He said, before He went to Bethany to Lazarus, “This sickness will not end in death.” But Lazarus did die. Death did happen.
It just didn’t end there.
He’s got an impressive track record for bringing dead things back to life. No other relationship expert can offer that.
So, as Valentine’s Day approaches – perhaps with a measure of dread and ambivalence – hear me say…
My marriage was dead.
And it’s not too late. Your marriage may be four days dead.
“This sickness will not end in death.”
He can do it.
Later this week I’ll repost last year’s Valentine’s article – “7 Ways to Effectively Pursue Your Valentine,” and make sure you enter our Valentine’s Giveaway on the Tenacious Grace FB page. Happy Valentine’s Week, friends![Image: Jackie Nell, Daniel Condurachi, Seth Lemmons]