The Way We Were

Just about every week someone will post on Facebook an announcement of their anniversary, complete with pictures of their wedding day last year or several years ago. And very often I am in one or more of those photographs as the officiant. I usually comment with this line: "Ah, yes...I remember it well.” Because I do. And there are my journals to help revive memories of all the details. Sometimes I will mention what the weather was that Saturday--or how their first kiss went on, and on, and on. They likely think I have a great memory, but it's really my copious notes.

I always think that the bride standing in front of me is the most beautiful one I have ever seen. And I mean it when I tell her so. But then I remember Daniela, my son's wife-- truly the most lovely. And then--I remember Audrey, who takes the prize for sure.

I got a little emotional a few weeks ago at the wedding of my nephew, Nick, and his bride, Madison. Not sure why, after doing so many weddings across the years. You would think that I could retain my composure in repeating those ancient words. But, more and more I find myself wondering at moments like these:

"Will they live happily ever after, or will they never be so happy again?"

Keeping marriage strong is a long-time challenge for any couple. And we all need lots of prayers, worthy mentors, and words of encouragement and counsel to pull it off.

An article in this past Sunday's New York Times caught my eye. It said that one way to re-ignite marital passion is to reminisce about your first date with your spouse. Sit down together and talk of how it came about, where you went, what movie you saw—every detail you can remember. What was it that kept your interest? What qualities in the other did you see that night that let you know that you wanted a second date, or could even imagine a lifetime together?

The article says that this is a fun way to pass the time during the Covid quarantine.

I surprised Audrey on Valentine's Day with a reenactment of our first date. There were hand-written menus from the restaurant in Farmville, and I prepared the steak dinner that I recall we had that night. I also re-produced tickets from the theatre where we saw a revival of Gone with the Wind. Friends who we ran into that night and who saw their pastor on a date (!) were enlisted to call us and chat for a while. It was great fun all the way around.

It may be John Gottman who says that you can tell when a marriage is a good and lasting one, by listening to them tell the story of how they met and when their love first blossomed. If they can tell the story with laughter and a twinkle in their eyes, he says--that's a good sign.

Even now I will sometimes ask Audrey to tell ours to guests who have come over for dinner. I watch and listen, just to see if the flame is still there. So far, so good.

Performing weddings is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone is so happy, and hopeful. Everybody is beautiful and handsome. It is a thrill to have a ringside seat at the creation of a new home. And watching an eager couple nervously repeat those same vows, spoken by millions of people before them, gives me a chance to renew my own yet one more time.

And every anniversary posting on Instagram or Facebook, with pictures--brings it all back.

Thanks for the memories!

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