Memories of the Way We Were

  • What are some of your favorite memories with your spouse?
    • Do you often revisit them together?
      • Do you savor them fondly?
        • Do you ever say, “I remember when…?”

Photo by Gabriel Craciun

Good memories can be the glue to hold us together.  During a struggle or impasse in our relationship, cherished memories can provide a cooling place of respite, an oasis of sorts.  As we remember the happy times of closeness and connection, we also remember how we felt loved and appreciated and how we in turn loved.

Good memories give hope and provide a safe harbor in a troublesome storm.

Some of you may remember the 1973 movie “The Way We Were” with Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand.  It was a sad chronicle of a troubled young couple, from infatuation, courtship, marriage and unfortunately, final separation.  The theme song, sung by Barbra Streisand, is very poignant:

In the song, she remembers

“the smiles we left behind, smiles we gave one another.”

She is reflecting on the happy times in their relationship, when they laughed and smiled together.  The times were easy and life wasn’t complicated.  They had few troubles and worries and their relationship wasn’t torn by changing desires and directions.  And she asks,

“Can it be that it was so simple then?”

Most of our relationships do start out simple.  We are in love.  You love me and I love you. Simple.  No children, no big financial issues, no career crisis.  Just simple.

And then life happens.

We get married, have a few kids, get into debt.  We find that we don’t have enough time to talk.  No date nights.  No weekends away.  No time for each other.  And we drift.  Then we look back to those happy memories.  Happy times.  The laughter.  And so the song ends with,

“So it’s the laughter, We will remember,

The way we were, The way we were.”

Here are my thoughts on memories.  Not only should you cherish them and hold them dear, but you should revisit them often.  Turn off the TV, laptop, and  phones and set aside a snuggle time together.  Put on a few candles and some soft background music.  Cuddle up and one of you can begin to share some of your favorite memories together.  The special weekend away a few years ago when Grandma had the kids.  Your first date.  Your first kiss.  Each of you share and take time to savor the memories.  Tell your spouse why each memory was so special for you.

And then make it a point to make new memories you can add to your library of memories.

They are like deposits to a bank account that you can withdraw anytime you need some hope in the midst of a struggle, or just a smile and a laugh together.

Memories of “The Way We Were!”

Weekend Away

How important is it to have a scheduled weekend getaway with your spouse? Should you try to sneak a time in once a year? Would that be enough? After all, we are so busy and it’s really hard to get a full three days away. Who will take care of the kids? And what about all the projects that we need to get done? Who has the time?

Do the excuses sound familiar? Why is it that we schedule other things but time away together gets pushed into the “maybe someday” category? Let me ask you this, in the past three or four years has “someday” ever come? Or are you like so many couples who never take time away. Life and circumstances determine your schedule.

Here’s an analogy: your laptop. How long can you use it on battery alone? A full day, or maybe several hours? Before long, you need to plug it in and get recharged. It has used all of its reserve power. It is running on empty. And what if it just kept running, but very slowly. It would take forever to process. (I know; it sounds like your laptop even when fully charged!) But think about it. How long would you tolerate it running so slow? And after running slow for so long, you would begin thinking that’s normal.

Photo by franckreporter

Photo by franckreporter

I think our relationship with our spouse is like the laptop. It needs to be recharged because after a while, it starts running on empty. For many of us, we are so used to running on empty, it seems normal. It would be great if we had an ap with a meter that would pop up and say, “Danger. Danger. Relationship running on empty. Need time away. Would you like me to schedule that for you?”

I believe most importantly, you need to predetermine that time away together is a priority. And you should try to work it in every three months.

Here are some important reasons for time away together:

  • Relax – No phones, noise, laptops, emails – Take a deep breath and relax.
  • Reconnect – You’ll have time to talk. Take a long walk on the beach and talk.
  • Remember – You can share favorite memories together over dinner.
  • Rejuvenate – Focus on making your relationship fresh again.
  • Recharge – Get your energy level back up and feel renewed, ready for life.
  • Reignite – Take time to stoke the flames of passion and let things heat up.

Well, now it’s time to do something. Resolve to make it happen. Tell your wife you want to go out for dinner and get out your calendars and schedule a weekend away. Sure, there’ll be details to work out, but it will be worth it.

So How Did You Meet Your Spouse?

One of my favorite questions when I meet a new couple is to ask how they met.  I am always fascinated with the unusual and funny stories of how couples began their lives together.  We all have a unique story.

I thought we could join in a kind of cyber space living room and share our stories.  So for this week, instead of just reading our blog, we want each of you to hit the Reply button and send us “your story!”  It doesn’t need to take a lot of time – about ten or fifteen minutes or so.  It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a few paragraphs on how the two of you began and became “Us”.

  • How and where did you meet?
  • Where was your first date?
  • Anything really special about your dating days?
  • What do you remember most about your spouse during that time?
  • What attracted you most to him?
  • How long after you first met did you decide to get married?
  • How did you, or she, pop the question?

When we’ve collected some stories, we’d like to take a few and share them anonymously with our readers.

Here’s a snippet from our story…

Alan and I met while in college through mutual friends one evening when I was playing the part of a male radio announcer in a play on my campus.  I had made a catty-wampus mess out of my necktie and he offered to fix it right there on the courtyard steps.  That scene is burned into my memory as is his comment that I “was much too beautiful to be wearing a tie!”  Brrr, still gives me chills….

Our first date was a month or so later.  It was the height of the gas crisis then (little did we know!) so to conserve gas Alan had his brother bring me to the church dinner dance at a restaurant close to where he was working.  We had a lovely evening, he gave me flowers; I made him a boutonniere from the college rose garden.  We danced and talked on the balcony overlooking Los Angeles.  All very romantic… until Alan had his brother take me home!  What a letdown, even if gas was expensive.  But I guess I got over it because before long we were dating only each other.  In fact, Alan’s frugality was one of the things that attracted me to him along with his easy charm.  And what a romantic he is-  2 years later, on my birthday, he took me back to that same restaurant and asked me to wear the same dress— and then he asked me to marry him!  I was so stunned it took me several seconds to say “Yes!  Yes, of course!”

So for this week  —  it’s group participation.  Share in the Leave a Reply Box right below!  We’d love to hear from each of you.

I Choose Us !!

Do you want to see a great “Date Night” movie?  (OK – OK!  A chick flick.  Hey guys – remember that most of the time she watches those shoot-‘em up movies with you and so a chick flick is perfectly ok and this one even has time travel for us guys!)  Anyways, let me recommend The Family Man with Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni.  It’s a great movie with an even better message.

After a series of events the husband, played by Nicolas Cage, comes to realize he needs to pursue his dream and passion to where he feels led in life.  But it requires major life changes for the family, including moving, changing schools for the kids, and being away from grandparents.  His wife passionately argues that they just can’t do that; they would be giving up too much.  They would have to leave their house, friends, and family.  The next day after some time of reflection and soul searching, she says to her husband, “Being with you is more important for me than to hold on to anything.  Where you go, I’ll go.”  And then she says, “I choose us!”

Think about that!  “I choose us!”  I make a conscious choice to put my personal needs and wants aside for what is a better choice for “Us.”  We each come to our relationships with our own personal dreams and aspirations, our own plans and goals.  They’re my goals, my plans, my career, and my education.  And somehow we must meld those two sets of desires into one.  It can no longer be all about me. It needs to become all about “Us”.

Here are a few suggestions to help you to work at making “Us” a focus:

  • Ask your spouse “Is there something special I can do for you this week?”  And don’t just ask, remember to Do It!
  • When needed, say “I’m sorry.  Would you forgive me?”
  • Commit to two times per week for special one on one alone time together.  Read a book together, share a massage or back rub – Be creative  –  I’m sure you can come up with something!
  • Make plans for two special trips away together each year. (Camping in the backyard doesn’t count)
  • Work at overcoming “me” and “my” and instead work on “Us”!
  • Talk about your favorite memories together.
  • Talk about your dreams and future together.

In the movie, the husband was faced with a choice of “me” or “us” and he chose “me”.  He became successful and quite wealthy.  His choice led him to a lonely and isolated life.   Sure he had wealth, but also an empty unfulfilled life.  Too late, he came to see that he had made the wrong choice.

Now for today’s assignment:  Get the movie and watch it together and when the time is right, nuzzle up to your spouse and give them a nibble on that special provocative spot and whisper in his or her ear, “From now on, I choose Us!”  Can you see that special sparkle in her eyes?  That’s the “Us” sparkle!!


Do You Remember When We….?

Have you ever shared a time of reminiscing with your spouse about your courtship years, or your engagement?  Perhaps you have thought back to the deliveries of children, or hard times like being unemployed, moving, and problems with relatives.  Or maybe you are a young couple who doesn’t have a lot of shared history yet.

Turns out, these times of recalling shared memories can be a part of a successful and close marriage.  John Gottman in his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail…and How You Can Make Yours Last calls it “finding the glory” in your marriage.  It is worth doing, helps strengthen our bond with our spouse, and gives hope for the future.

In my own marriage reminiscing played a key role in keeping us together during our desert years when we were committed but not close.  Many times we tried to work through the issues.  At times we’d even have understanding of each other, but somehow it didn’t translate into action or growth.  But that’s another story…  For now, know that we took care of responsibilities, but not each other.  When I look back and realize the state we were in it is amazing that we made it to the great marriage we have now.  Many things contributed to our longevity, like our stubborn commitment to our vows, but reminiscing is the thing that brought us back to the oasis where we could find joy together now and then.

Taking time together was a priority for us.  Every three or four months we’d take off overnight to the beach.  We’d go out for special occasions.  We started celebrating the anniversary of our first date and our engagement (which happens to be my birthday!)  All these celebrations gave us time to remember our beginnings, the romance, getting to know each other, and happy carefree times.  It was time to connect again with what we loved in each other.

As time passed we weathered many storms together.  There were periods of unemployment, difficult childbirths, sick children, stressful family times.  All the usual life difficulties.  But we’d look back at those and see how the Lord brought us through together.  It gave us a sense of camaraderie and confirmation that we were still right for each other after all.  As Dr. Gottman would say, we were “glorifying our struggles” and remembering them in a positive way that gave us hope for a bright future.

When we finally did work through those long-standing issues we realized what a role those times of reminiscing played.  They really did give us little oases of positive feelings to hold on to through the next desert trek!

I hope this story encourages you to take time with your spouse to remember back to your beginnings, to happy times, and even sad or stressful times.  Share the joy and blessings together.  Find meaning and growth in the hard times.  Just don’t forget your past.  Lessons from your history together may be just what you need to get to a soul mate marriage.

Share some of YOUR special memories in the Comment Box below.