Chrissy and my friendship continued to grow stronger over the months.
She was my best friend.
It was a slow process, but I was waking up to the fact that I was in love with her, really in love. She had actually become more than my best friend. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.
In January, we decided to visit a friend of ours in the Bronx for the weekend. The ride to New York City was about two hours from our school.
The drive that evening was uncomfortable for me. I had in mind to share with my best friend how I really felt about her. I knew this would irreversibly change the dynamic of our relationship. What we had was so good. I was scared to ruin it. I was also scared to open up my heart so deeply.
We had never talked about “us”. What we had talked about was the fact that we were reserving our hearts for the person we would marry. For me to make this confession to her was in essence a marriage proposal.
I had a sense that our feelings were mutual but I was not sure. Today was the day I would find out.
A Cork Happily Pops!
As we drove, I wrestled within myself. She could tell I was struggling. She had no idea why. She asked what was on my mind. I gave some dismissive response but she could tell there was more. She did not press, but I knew she was listening.
Eventually I said, “Have you ever felt like a bottle with so much pressure in it, but the cork was stuck and the pressure would not come out? That is how I feel.”
She had no idea what I meant. Indeed, how could she.
Then the cork let loose and I said, “Chrissy, I really love you.”
She knew exactly what I meant and thankfully she felt the same. That is how our romance started on January 26, 1991. We were both very happy and that happiness carried into our marriage.
The fairy tale marriage that concludes with “and they lived happily ever after” is just that – a fairy tale.
When we enter marriage, it is with the understanding, all be it a very shallow understanding, that there will be ups and downs. That is one reason the classic marriage vows are written the way they are: “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.”
Highs and lows are just the reality of life.
One Essential Principle for a Happy Marriage
In her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin makes this observation:
“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”
My relationship with Chrissy has grown over the years. Our love has matured through raising kids, changing jobs, starting a business, planting a church, owning houses, dealing with health issues, losing a parent and just plain life.
Sometimes it is easy to be happy. Sometime it is very hard. There have been some seasons of life in which our happiness has been greatly challenged.
We have found that a happy marriage only comes from being a happy person. When either of us take ownership of our own happiness and then generously give it away it creates a ripple effect and a happy marriage is the result.
Date Idea: A Treasure Hunt for Happiness
Remember learning to ride a bicycle? When I was teaching my kids I would often remind them, “Look where you are going”. This is important in life as with learning to ride a bicycle because we tend to go toward what we look at.
What direction we move in as a couple will depend in large part on where we are focused. Look for what makes you happy and you will find it.
Here is a date idea for you to consider. It has nothing to do with your activity or location but rather your conversation.
There are treasures of happiness hidden in your relationship that have yet to be discovered. Your history holds clues as to where to find those treasures. Think of this conversation as a mining expedition. You are about to unearth some very valuable treasure.
Think back over your history as a couple. Brainstorm together about your best ever experiences together as a couple. What were they?
These do not necessarily have to be “good times” in life. Someone has said, “One of the best thing about people is that they are at their best when things are at their worst.” We are not looking for a good or bad situation. We are looking for the best in you as a couple. Maybe it was a bad situation that brought that out, maybe not.
Think of times when your unity, love, trust, security, and happiness were at a high point. When you think about the high points of your relationship, what comes to mind? Talk about those things. List the experiences.
After listing a few high points, pick one of the best.
What has been one of your best experience of being a couple?
Describe your perspective on this event to your spouse in vivid detail.
When was that? What was going on? Who was there? What were you doing? What were you saying, or not saying? What time of day was it? How were you feeling? What did you see? How would you describe yourselves as a couple in this situation? What can you see in this story that gives life to your marriage? What do you value most about your relationship? What is it that made a positive difference in the quality of your marriage?
Let this conversation be a treasure hunt for happiness. Use the questions in this article to aid you in unearthing the best of what is. The treasure that you find will inspire you to even greater happiness.
What has been your happiest dating experience as a couple?