“Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.”
--- Khalil Gibran
February is one of my favorite months of the year. January is always the time for planning, focusing on goal setting and initiating effective positive changes in our life. Now we are immersed in the energy of love, romance and reflection on great memories of the past.
In this posting I will share my reflection on some of the lessons we learned in the early years of our marriage. It is quite a challenge to keep romance alive as the years slip by and we are faced with the many challenges of children, careers, money, and extended families.
We made a Marriage Encounter weekend a few months after our 5th Wedding Anniversary. That weekend is designed to make good marriages better. At that point we had not experienced disillusionment with one another. I have previously discussed the three stages in relationships: Romance, Disillusionment, and True Joy. The weekend taught us a basic means of communication to keep our relationship strong as we go through these three stages of love again and again in our commitment to one another. We were also shown that our marriage is truly a vocation and very important to our community. At the conclusion of the weekend the presenting teams asked us and two other couples to consider becoming a presenting team couple to spread what we experienced to other couples.
For five years we were one of multiple teams giving this weekend experience locally and around the country. There is a saying “You teach what you need to learn.” Over the years we have found that to be so true. We are grateful to have experienced that weekend so young in our marriage. We learned that setting aside the time each day for in depth communication is a key element to growth and closeness in our relationship.
It is so easy to take your partner for granted. It takes effort and commitment to keep communication open and honest, to share feelings, to take time for each other. We were also reminded how important the critical role romance plays in our relationship. We learned it takes prioritizing time together to make a good marriage better. Another statement given to us that weekend that changed our perception of relationships is that “Love is a decision, not a feeling.” We have a choice to act in a loving way regardless of our differences at times.
It is very important to set time aside for one another, work on romance and recall the spark that connected us in the first days of dating. If this practice isn’t ongoing then when the challenges of life like illness, financial stresses, job loss, etc., disillusionment become so powerful that it is very difficult to remember the romance of the past.
Valentine’s Day is Friday! You may find the card that says exactly how you feel. And of course it is also touching to write a few of your own heartfelt words to the person with whom you have chosen to spend your life. You may also want to consider writing a personal love letter expressing what first attracted you to your spouse and what set off that first spark of romance.
You may want to spend some time this week focusing on ideas to experience more romance in your relationship. When we were first married, we could not afford extended vacations. New Orleans is a great city to arrange a staycation. I would make reservations at a hotel for a weekend, arrange a babysitter and surprise my wife.
You may want to pull out some pictures of your first dates or you wedding day. Set up a date night where you can share the memories of that special time.
The time you spend working on your personal romance is a gift to others. We are living in a time when the reflection of that love you have for one another can offer hope when most of what we read, and view stirs up disillusionment. One of the best compliments we have ever received was from one of our granddaughters. She told us when she got married she wanted to grow old in a marriage like ours. She commented about the many things we do together and how we enjoy one another’s company.
We were blessed as a young couple by spending five years with Father Gallagher, founder of Worldwide Marriage Encounter. His passion for the enrichment of the Sacrament of Matrimony always helped us to stay focused in that direction. He wrote many books on marriage and co-wrote a powerful book entitled Embodied in Love. The following is a quote from that book, “God created us for love, for he knows that love alone brings us purpose and identity.”
You can help spread the message of the power of romance to a larger audience by sharing this post with family and friends.