© 2001 Corbis. All rights
Find the Love You Once Had!
by Archie Wortham
"You must get Jeremy to tell you the story of how his mom and dad met," Mrs. Walsh, Jeremy’s 4th grade teacher, told Mrs. Ott, his 5th grade teacher. "It was so romantic," Mrs. Walsh told her.
Well, it was romantic. Jeremy had heard how his dad had wined, dined, and literally serenaded his mom to be. But her version? It’s slightly different. It culminates with her confusion about how this guy she hardly knew could have had the nerve to tell people he’d met the girl he was going to marry before he’d even gone on a date with her.
It may have been the last time I was right about anything--know what I mean guys? But come June, God willing, his mom and I will be married 18 years. Actually, make that 36, if you count the fact I married her twice. Not like Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, there was no divorce. We married the first time in court; the second time was in a church. Besides being an incurable romantic, I am a traditionalist. Besides asking her dad for her hand in marriage, (in response to which he asked me "what about the rest of her?"), we had a church wedding too, making sure God blessed our union. Isn’t that what we all want? Our children’s union and our own marital union, to be blessed by God?
Nevertheless, the point here is, if you’ve never shared with your kids the story of how you met, plan to do it right now. If you have never shared the idea of how you knew he was the one, or she was the one, do it! As soon as they come home, plan a time you all can sit down and tell the story. Bring out the pictures, especially the wedding pictures. Our wedding was interesting.
We’d planned a "Midsummer’s Night’s Dream" that turned into "A Comedy of Errors." Besides splitting my pants, my best man played the wrong side of the tape, and we recessed out the church as Mr. & Mrs. to the ‘loon’ music of "Old Golden Pond," rather than VanGellis’ "Chariots of Fire." I’m not sure if that was portends of old age early, the fact I was and still am ‘crazy as a loon,’ or simply that the chariots of fire in our years BC (before children) would carry me to the golden years with the loon of my life. (You know loons mate forever!) Anyway, it’s interesting to tell the story, and see each other’s eyes light up again. It’s ‘prep reminder’ marriages miss ever so often, as we forget the reason we married each other, and why we’re still together. We took a vow. We made a covenant. For some, it was a commitment to love someone 100%, in sickness and in health, richer or poorer. Remember those vows?
Even more wonderful, as we sometimes reminisce, are the faces our kids make as they try to understand stuff beyond them. What an experience to hear Myles ask where he was, and hear Jeremy, the ‘know-it-all’ replica of his dad, tell Myles more than even I wanted him know. (Thank you Monica and Bill for filling in the blanks I’d hoped would be reserved for me)!
So why on Valentine’s? Why now? Good question. Why wait until Valentine’s to refresh and restore the memory of the ‘love of your life?’ Indeed, why wait? Yet, we men do that. We forget the things that made us stop in our tracks, and in the process, she forgets them too. What’s wrong with ‘counting the ways, you still love her?’ Or for that matter, the way you still love him, mom??! Granted, there are things that have happened that might change how you love her, but not why you first fell in love with her. I literally fell in love with my wife on the spot. I’m glad I listened to that angel, though sometime I have to find that angel to remind me, and not heed others that might want me to turn my back! Never. Not Bill or Jessie can make me do that, even though the world sees more and more men giving up. Dads have to change that!
Our kids need to hear that marriage is sacred. Marriage is a commitment. And as Dr. Rodriguez points out in his book Caring for Your Wife in Sickness and in Health, children learn about respect and responsibility for marriage based on what they see at home. Don’t give up! I know marriage can be hard, particularly in a society overwrought with cynicism, lack of optimism, and fewer and fewer knights chasing windmills. If you want happy endings, make them! Don’t give them up! It’s what makes life promising. Our kids need them too. They need to hear why they have the parents they have. It gives them hope. It reminds us that what we may have lost, we can still regain. And if the moment is right, the ‘chariots’ will rise. Mom will be happy, you will be happy, and America will be happier because as Dr. Wallerstein emphasizes in her book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, children want their parents to stay together, and most kids never recover from divorce. If loons can do it, so can you. Romance each other. Hug each other, and provide the image you want your grandchildren to see. What do you have to lose?
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The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce
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