Sheri and Bob Stritof of About. comGuide wrote "If marriage is a journey, who has the map? There is not just one map. We all have maps. As we journey together as a couple in our marriage, many of us will make a wrong turn, or get lost, or find ourselves on an unplanned detour not on our map."
So what do you do?
Stop and ask for directions? Or keep going until you're back on the right road? And how do you do that?
Sheri and Bob says you need seven things to keep your marriage journey on the right track: Friendship; loving and feeling loved; sex; communicating; making plans together; laughing with each other; holding hands; memories; traveling together; sharing responsibilities.
I agree with that but I'd like to add focus to that list.
In December, Harry and I traveled to Florida. We had the pleasure to attend the wedding of my dear friend, Pattie Mihalik and her new husband, David.
When it was time for the bride to enter the church, we all turned to watch her come down the aisle. All of us were focused on Pattie.
She looked lovely, wearing a radiant smile and a gorgeous white gown with a dramatic red bodice-the color of love.
Her gaze never wavered. She didn't glance from side to side to see who was there. Instead, she was totally focused on the handsome man awaiting her at the altar and her new future.
There was no slow and graceful gliding down the aisle. No sir. Pattie's stride was almost hurried and full of purpose, as if to say, "I can't wait for my new journey with Dave to begin."
They had eyes only for each other.
Afterward at the reception, Pattie and Dave rarely left each other's side and danced the night away.
I was thrilled to see my friend find love and joy again. She so deserves it.
As Valentine's Day approaches, I delve back into my memory bank and try to recall my own wedding day 38 years ago when our journey through life as man and wife began. Harry and I were young and had idealized visions of what married life would be like. Needless to say, it didn't take long before the real world tested our love and we got a little lost.
I remember one night in our first year of marriage, I called my parents to come pick me up. I was done. Finished. I wanted no more of marriage.
By the time my parents arrived, I remembered how very much I loved my husband, why I wanted to be married to him and decided that I had made a commitment, a vow, to love and cherish, through good times and bad times. I told my parents to go home. I was staying.
I'm so glad I did.
Don't get me wrong. Over the years it would have been nice to have a road map. There have been moments where we both looked at each other like we came from other planets or wanted to beam each other over the head. But for the most part, we've managed to muddle through. I think having a healthy dose of humor helps, and all the other six things Sheri and Bob said was needed for a marriage to survive.
I'd also add, keeping the love light burning.
How do you do that?
I think it's the little things. Things that we do to show how important the other person is to us.
Like a couple of weeks ago when Harry did such a sweet unexpected act.
It was my birthday. My mom usually bakes me an apple pie instead of a cake. (My choice.) But this year, we spent the day together out and about and she didn't have time. No big deal. And I was okay with it.
But, apparently, Harry wasn't.
The next night when I came home from work, Harry presented me with a fresh-out-of-the-oven apple pie from the local bakery. It was still hot!
He gave it to me and said, "I felt bad that you didn't have a cake or anything to stick candles in it to sing "Happy Birthday" to you." And then he sang to me.
It was just a little thing to do. But it was a HUGE way of saying he loves me.
Opening doors for me, calling to see if I got to work okay in bad weather, covering me up with the blanket when he gets up early to go hunting- all little every day things he does that makes me feel appreciated and loved.
Valentine's Day is one day a year set aside to express our love for those who we cherish. But really, do we need a special day to do that? Shouldn't we be doing that every day? There's no reason why we can't express our love to those who mean the most to us, every day.
Watching Pattie walk toward Dave with such love and focus brought home the message that love is the obvious glue in making a marriage work.
But there's also that part about focus. I think we have to focus on each other and not let the outside world creep in and sabotage that focus. And boy, that can be hard to do with jobs, children, family and outside commitments. We all lead busy lives. We all get side-tracked, lost and find ourselves taking detours.
Maps are great for helping us on our journey but if we focus on each other and work on keeping love as our destination, hopefully we can handle any roadblocks that get in our way.
And a little chocolate and flowers on Valentine's Day doesn't hurt either.