Jeff and I are like most couples – we have stories. Lots of them. Well, maybe not lots of them. I guess we only really have a few. But we repeat them over and over. And over. Especially our funny ones. We repeat them to each other, to our kids and anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves at the Davis dinner table. And we usually laugh. Every. Time. Some days we sort of think God put us here for comic relief.
In fact, our 5 year old has gotten in to the habit – and when she and I spend time together, she invariably asks me to tell her “the story of how she was born”…or the story of how one of her siblings was born. Because childbirth in our family seems to involve lots of laughter – in addition to all the…um…pain…Our birth stories involve Wal-mart parking lots, Harry Potter novels, swedish meatballs, star trek transporter beams, German nurses having a throw down in front of me, looking out an open window to the pedestrians about 3o feet away while actually delivering…but I digress. You should come have dinner with us sometime to get the full stories. Even our 5 year old knows how much fun it can be.
I think this represents a good and healthy marriage (and family) practice: shared positive memories. We practice our stories. We tell them often. And we laugh. Every. Time. We own them in our hearts. And we are trying to share our family stories with our kids. Sort of like an initiation to the team. We don’t have a secret handshake. We have stories we tell and share.
In fact, over the years, I’ve become a bit of a photographer of some of our more humorous moments. I enjoy the visual that reminds us of something we loved together. Every year at Christmas, all the kids get a small, simple photo album of them in the past year. To remind them of how they’ve grown, how loved they are, the special events they lived through, to prompt storytelling at bedtime.
And every time we tell our stories, I am reminded of how much history I share with Jeff, how many good and memorable times we’ve had, how much we’ve overcome together, how intertwined our lives are. It turns my heart towards him. And his toward mine.
It seems to me that couples who have turned a dark corner, who are heading down a dangerous downhill slide from which it is difficult to pull out, don’t seem to remember much of anything positive about their spouse, or the years they’ve spent together. All that they’ve invested in each other and shared through the years gets filed under ‘unfunny, sad, discouraging, or not-happy”. Couples that look at each other and can’t remember why it is they are together are in a dangerous place indeed.
So Jeff and I practice remembering why we are together and why we love each other and why our future looks brighter than our past. We rehearse our stories with each other. And with anyone who ends up sharing a meal with us.
This is a practice that produces beautiful things for a couple and a marriage.