Valentine’s Day is when we think of love and cupids and red hearts – or at least some of us do. But if you’re a guy, you hope you remember to bring home some flowers. You also hope she doesn’t notice you didn’t bring home a card. Either way, you’re in the doghouse.
Marriage has a natural drift. It moves from intimacy to isolation. You can’t tell that to a couple who is engaged. After marriage, life, career and child-raising take over. You bring home this wonderful bundle of joy who two years later is saying “No” with both hands on their hips. You get a reprieve between ages 4 and 12 when they think you walk on water. After that, you sink.
I loved raising my kids. I had a blast. We had one television. We also had basic cable. My bill was under $10 per month. With limited channels, we learned to disagree (OK, fight) over what we were going to watch. Maria always got there first and we watched figure skating. I learned to like it or else.
As my daughter got older and learned to be a seamstress, she took more and more of my wife’s time. As Maria’s sewing skills improved, so did the time demand on my wife. They would often be found working at 4 a.m. on a sewing project that was due the next day. I learned to smile. We are family.
You remember the play, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum?” My story is different. “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Family Reunion the Day After the Wedding.”
My daughter was married near Greensboro on a Saturday. We decided (OK, I decided) to have a family reunion in my backyard the next day. There would not be time to cook, so we ordered barbecue for my New Jersey family. We had to be on the road from Greensboro by 9 a.m. to arrive home, get things set up, greet the caterer, set up the food and greet the guests who were scheduled to arrive at 12:30.
As we left the hotel, and my wife and I were driving south on I-85, a funny thing happened on the way to the family reunion. I was no longer in my late 50s. I was 24 years old. I wasn’t driving a Ford Escape. I was driving my college car. Suddenly, it hit me. It was just the two of us again, just like it was when we first started dating.
I never realized how much time the kids took of my wife. Since my love language is time, I want to spend it with my wife. The many sewing projects and preparation for the wedding took my wife away from me for quite a bit of time. While I “learned to smile,” I wasn’t happy about it.
It was driving down I-85 when I realized we were returning to the first chapter of our life. Some people panic over that. I will confess, we didn’t get away for long weekends just by ourselves. This moment was different. It was more than just the two of us alone. We weren’t listening to the Carpenters sing, “We’ve Only Just Begun.” Instead, we had 35 years of marriage and many life lessons behind us. Now, we could enjoy each other in ways that we didn’t understand when we were newly married.
No, we don’t have grandchildren, at least not yet. No rush. I am thoroughly enjoying this new season of my life.
I’ll be back in a few weeks. Until then, live well my friend.
Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. He is available to speak to your group. Find more information at www.charlotterescuemission.org.