Ahh, Valentine’s Day. The time we dedicate to romance, heart throbs, roses, and chocolates. Time to risk it all and declare your affection for that certain someone, that secret crush. Or, for those of us who made that declaration long ago, time to lay aside our petty and not-so-petty disagreements and focus on those scrumptious feelings that first brought us to this place.
You’d think after 33 years of marriage, Jon and I would have this stuff down pat. A third of a century of sharing the same space, raising the same kids, and navigating the same road should provide us with the ability to read the other’s mind, right? Alas, in many ways it seems the journey has only begun. This was revealed to us in a painful way eight years ago when, approaching our big silver anniversary, circumstances hollered the truth that we had decidedly different goals, desires, and dreams. That ugly word “compromise” seemed like an enemy. Spinning our wheels with little common ground, we made no progress forward and certainly none toward each other. I began to despair that reaching our silver milestone would be simply that--a cold, gray symbol to mark the passage of time rather than a victorious accomplishment to be celebrated.
Then something--I know now it was God--prompted me to go to work on a project. Although my heart was not in it, I pressed forward, sorting through photo albums that represented our history together. My intent was to put together a Powerpoint show as an anniversary gift. Little did I know what it would do in my own heart. As the pictures took me right back to high school graduation, followed shortly by our wedding, college graduation, the arrival of children, various moves, the hard times, and the happy times, I felt my heart softening. Somehow the issue at hand was no longer the insurmountable monster it had been. We had something here that was far too valuable to throw away, even if lost dreams were sometimes the required price. I continued to work on the slide show, and with a little help from Kenny Rogers (“Through the Years”), the collection made a powerful impact on my husband on our 25th. We both realized we did indeed have much to celebrate.
There’s a good reason God set up festivals of remembrance for His people, Israel. He knows how quickly we forget, how easily we get caught up in right now. The value of shared history in marriage is sadly underestimated. If you’ve been married any length of time and have reached that nasty swamp of disenchantment for the hundredth time; if you’re convinced you made a horrible mistake and escape is the only answer; if the thought of valentines and heart-shaped boxes leaves you cynical and sickened, can I encourage you to look back? Pull out the photo album and reminisce, even if you must force yourself at first. You may discover more reasons to hang in there than you thought. Take a walk through the good times you’ve shared and the hard times you’ve endured together. Put Kenny on the stereo. It will do your heart good.