Before You Drive Your Marriage Off a Cliff, Drive it Down Memory Lane

During my Senior year of High School, I began to talk to a  girl who really had no interest in me. (I mean really!) But the more I talked to her, the more interested I became. So the night of our high school graduation, I asked her to go out after the ceremony. Much to my dismay, she turned me down because her boyfriend was talking her out after the ceremony. (Yes, she already had a boyfriend!)

In a bold, and rather unethical move, I asked her what time her boyfriend was bringing her home. When she told me 11:00 pm, I told her I would pick her up at 11:02. The look she gave me told me she didn’t put much stock in what I was saying, but I assured her I would be there.

Now I’m not suggesting this was an honorable thing to do. It wasn’t. I would like to say I was being galant and romantic, but I was eighteen and thinking more about me than her boyfriend. For that…I’m sorry!

Anyway, back to the story. A little before 11 pm, I parked down the street from her house, turned off my car lights, and waited. At 11pm, they pulled up in front of her house. I watched him let her out and drive away. After he drove around the corner, I pulled up in front of her house. She came out, got in the car, and we drove off on our first (unofficial) date.

We’ve been married nearly forty years now, and every day has been just as story book as that memory. Ok, you know that’s a lie. Not everyday has been that galant and romantic. There probably have been just as many times when we’ve been frustrated and wanted a break from one another. But if, during those times, I go back and remember that story (and many others like it) it puts things back in perspective and makes the aggravation shrink in comparison.

Couples come into my counseling office angry and resentful with one another. They spend a lot of time rehearsing story after story of let-downs, hurts, and frustrations.  But, when I ask them to tell me about how they met, what attracted them to one another, their favorite dating memory, etc….their faces change. Their tone of voice changes. They soften. All because they’re remembering the real reason they came together.

You may not be as young as you once were. Maybe you have kids, and jobs, and responsibilities that side-track you from being as spontaneous, gracious, and flirtatious as you once were. You may even be at that stage of life and marriage where a good time together is sitting quietly in your respective easy chairs. But we all have these memories and stories to remind us of why we’re together.

Those memories alone may not be enough to make your marriage what it needs to be. You may need to add some hard work to those memories, but those memories are an untapped resource and a glue to help hold things together.

So, when you’re facing a time in marriage where you feel like driving the whole thing off a cliff, try driving down memory lane instead. Rehearse those stories, pull out photos, talk about favorite times together. You may find that driving down memory lane takes you to a better destination.