In my office, next to my desk, is a set of banker bookshelves. My wife, Janice, encouraged me to get them since they went with my desk. I really like them but my idea of what to put in them is somewhat limited. I always figured bookshelves were to have books in them. Janice, in her wonderfully creative way, began to interplay the books with pictures, glassware, and other items to “dress up” the shelves.
This beautifully decorated bookshelf has been in my office for 18 months now and I just noticed something. Today, for the very first time, I noticed two objects that I am totally convinced were strategically placed together. One is a Mayan figurine that depicts a man and a woman, facing out, holding each other. This was an object Janice and I bought on our honeymoon in Mexico City. It was a wonderful time for us to explore something together that Janice had once experienced with her parents when she was younger. Except for me getting very sick on our trip back, it was a great and memorable adventure.
Right next to that figurine is an 8 ½”x11″ picture of Janice and me in rain slickers. We are sitting side by side, our heads and backpacks covered to protect it from the cool, rainy morning in Colorado. In the background is the foliage that surrounded our tent which had been home for three days prior. Just moments after the picture was taken, we embarked up one of the Buffalo Peaks close to Buena Vista wearing the packs but shedding the slickers. The rain had subsided and the sun was bright. We reached the top of the mountain and were greeted by a Bighorn Sheep who quickly scampered away. Except for the accident Janice had coming off the mountain as she lost her balance with the heavy pack on the rocking boulders which resulted in a badly sprained ankle, it was a great and memorable adventure.
These items intentionally sit side by side in my bookcase. A reminder of just some of the great times we have had enjoying life together as a couple. As a part of determining how much work will be needed in helping couples that come to me, I often will ask them to share stories of their early years in marriage. The couples who share happy moments, great adventures, and even romanticize the difficult times, I feel confident that the couple have many of the ingredients necessary to make it through another tough time. One of saddest things I have to deal with is the couple that cannot remember anything good; there are no times they enjoyed; there were no victories shared. “Well, how did or do you have fun together,” I’ll ask (crickets chirping). When this happens, I know the chances for success are small though I plod on courageously and hopeful that they will allow God to show up.
If you haven’t sat down with your spouse and reviewed some old pictures in a while, let me encourage you to do so. Tell the stories and remember together. Share them with your kids to show them that parents can and must have fun without them always present. This helps them develop a model for marriage that is very important. Also, don’t always share the good times. Share the hard times as well. The stories of getting through with little money, little time and sometimes with little ones helps the children realize that marriage is for better and for worse. Two people committed to working together and determined to get along can accomplish anything.
My younger son is now married. He is facing a decision that might pull him away from this area in order to make a living for his new family. He looked at his mother and me and asked very seriously if we were going to be okay with him not there. Janice and I looked at each other and smiled. We secretly were thinking of all the times that are reflected on the bookcase and the pile of pictures in the shoebox in our closet. We even imagined the new pictures that might be taken and figurines bought. We assured our concerned and loving son we would be okay. We are not through making memories together.