Our first February as a married couple, Randy had one rose a day delivered to my desk in the newsroom during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.
More than two decades and a whole lot of life later, he accidentally did something decidedly less romantic the week before Feb. 14.
“Put lotion on and forgot to put my ring back on!” he texted me one morning. “Feels naked.”
Dry hands, bouts of forgetfulness and the feeling that something is missing when your wedding ring isn’t on. That’s what love looks like after almost 23 years of marriage.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Twenty-three years doesn’t sound like much when you consider there are people in this world who have been married for 75 or 80 years. But it seems like a long time when you realize you’ve almost reached the point where you’ve been married longer than you were single.
There are a lot of happy memories wrapped up in those years, along with some seasons you’d probably rather forget. Every bit of it has made you what you are, though, so if you had to eliminate any of it, how would you even know which piece to pick?
It’s not just that you’ve weathered the storms together, you’ve weathered the rest of the weather together too. Hot and dry. Cold and rainy. Foggy and dreary. Muggy and oppressive. Snowy and blustery.
In retrospect, you’ve lived a forecast that you never could have predicted—and possibly never would have chosen, if it had been up to you.
But it wasn’t.
As “in love” as you thought you were, you didn’t really know what you were saying when you took those vows all those years ago. For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. Who can envision what all that will include, and how it will change you?
But there was one vow you understood—the “as long as we both shall live” part. The part that means no matter what, no matter how you happen to feel on any given day or any particular hour of that day, you’re stuck with each other.
Fused at the molecular level, if you will.
Yes, that bond could be broken, but not without devastating consequences. So, come rain or shine, you keep moving forward, hand tucked securely in hand.
At the moment, you’re smack-dab in the middle of the sandwich-generation years. Being on call for your elderly parents while helping your children navigate the ups and downs of adolescence can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. It doesn’t leave a lot of energy for love poems and hot dates, Valentine’s Day or not.
What it does leave room for is inside jokes and 20-second hugs. For reading side by side on the living-room loveseat. For eating supper in the cozy dining room instead of the cluttered kitchen. For HGTV or Velocity on Friday nights. For Saturday afternoon naps and Sunday afternoon “coffee drives.”
These activities may not rank high on the Richter scale of marital excitement, but they’re keeping the bonds strong and flexible until it’s just the two of you again. Which it will be, before you know it.
Here’s the thing. It’s easy to look at couples who are much further down the road and say things like, “When we’re that age, I hope you don’t …” or “When we get to that stage of life, I hope you take care of me just like …”
You can learn from what you observe, but the truth is, you just never know what’s going to happen. You don’t go around planning for the things that sometimes slam you against the wall or sneak up on you when you’re focused on what’s right in front of you.
But when they happen (as they inevitably will), you know what you have to do. You lean toward each other, not away, because that is what you promised to do so long ago, back when you had no idea what you were promising.
You didn’t know, but the God who brought you together all those years ago? He knew.
And He’ll be the One holding you together in the future. Even when you forget to wear your wedding ring.