We're on a road that has no end
And each day we begin again
Love's not just something that we're in
It's something that we do
Something that We Do-Clint Black
(Bruce) So, I was having lunch with my buddy Duane and we started talking about our wives and how long we've been married. I mentioned how it certainly is a marathon not a sprint. He asked me if I've ever heard the Clint Black song called "Something That We Do". "Nope," I said. "But I know that Clint Black's been married for a long time, so I'd love to hear what he has to say about it".
Duane went on to tell me that the song dives into the notion that love is not a noun, it's a verb...an active word. We don't just fall into love. It's something that we need to actually work on and "do". I told Duane that I sensed that there was probably a blog for our website somewhere in all of that. I think there is. So, this is my attempt at it.
Song Lyrics: I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
I still believe the words we said
Forever will ring true
Love is certain, Love is kind
Love is yours and love is mine
But it isn't something that we find
It's something that we do
Check out those first eight lines of the song. I think a lot of people tend to forget why they got married in the first place. We live in a throwaway society, don't we? We can't wait for the newest iPhone rollout, the newer, better car, and the newer, better, bigger house.
So, let me share a personal story. Remember the 1996 Summer Olympics games in Atlanta? There was a lot of anticipation to the Opening Ceremonies because a very special surprise person was going to light the Olympic flame. I am a die-hard Olympics fan and I really wanted to see who that was going to be (It turned out to be Muhammad Ali!).
We were living Naperville, Illinois at the time. Two days before this epic Olympic moment, we had an epic rainstorm. Naperville, Illinois took in 14 inches of rain in what was considered a 100-year event. I'm talking boats floating down our street and FEMA helicopters over our homes.
We woke up to a 5am phone call from our neighbor five houses down telling us that our plastic picnic table was floating down the street. So, I jumped out of bed, ran downstairs, opened the front down, and realized that we now had waterfront property! And, both of cars were about to be swallowed up. So, I grabbed the keys and drove both of them up to the top of the hill and out of harms way. Satisfied, I figured it was time to head back to bed. But, as I walked back inside, I heard a beeping sound. Following it to the basement, I opened the door and saw our washer/dryer (which was making the beeping sound) and deep large freeze floating in 5 feet of water. "Tracy!" I yelled. "You might want to get down here...quickly!" Before you know it, my tenacious and fearless wife sees our vintage leather chairs floating in the water, as well all as the Christmas decorations. Despite the possible electric currents floating through the water, she dove in to save the chairs and Santa. Seeing that she did not suffer a horribly debilitating electrocution and while I was standing in safety at the top of the stairs, I said, "Hey, as long as you're in there, can you grab my golf clubs?!"
We had been visiting a Community Christian Church for a few weeks, and soon lots people from the church took off work, trudged through the water, brought food, and offered to help us with the clean-up. Because sewage had pipes burst all over the city and so much debris was tracked all over our tiny home, we were told by the fire department that our home was unsafe for our small children until it was completely sterilized.
A kind lady from the church offered to watch the kids. (three-year-old Josh, and one-year-old Caroline) for two days so we could sterilize everything. Tracy was a little freaked out about the kids being with a stranger...actually a lot freaked out. I was like, "No worries!" The drama unfolded with Tracy wanting to throw away everything. And me wanting to keep everything. I needed all of my english papers from high school and my newly warped records from the 80's. And yup, that was me leaving Tracy to go play softball in the midst of this chaos. And yup, that was me who later that evening was watching TV (rather than helping with the massive and immediate need to sterilize the house so our kiddos could return). I needed to see who was going to light the flame. Needless to say, it caused a lot of stress in our lives, and I allowed it to put a strain on our marriage. Poor Tracy was at the end of her rope with me. She tried to reason with me, but I wouldn't comply. After all, she is not a sports fan and couldn't possibly understand. That evening she turned a radio up really loud in our tiny little house just to piss me off. I got her back by turning up the TV volume even louder. I couldn't believe that she wouldn't respect my selfishness! Finally, she had had enough. She stormed up the stairs in tears and said furiously, "If you don't want to help, then you can just just leave." That was the last straw. Ten minutes later, I packed a suitcase and already had in my mind the hotel I was going to check into. I decided I wanted out of this marriage as fast as possible. I headed to the kitchen where she was sterilizing something. With my suitcase in hand, I stood there defiantly and waited for a reaction from her. By this time she had gotten herself together. I said, "What did you say to me?" She calmly said "Honey we are just really stressed, and we handle crisis very differently." I asked her, "Did you mean it when you said I should just leave." At this point she started to laugh a little and said, "Leaving your family is a pretty big deal. That is probably a decision you should make on your own." I replied, "I'm the most co-dependent person that I know, and if I am going to leave this family you have to tell me to leave." This really got her laughing...me, not so much. When she refused to take responsibility for my leaving, I realized that we were facing a standoff. Thankfully my head cleared, I came to my senses, and walked back upstairs.
Here's the point. I was nine toes out of that door that night. I really could see myself leaving. If I had, I would have missed the reconciliation that occurred. I would have missed being 24/7 part of my kids lives over all these years. I would have missed the amazing life and love that Tracy and I have had and are sharing right now. I've wondered how many people out there have missed out on what could have been because it was just easier to walk out of that door.
Look, I'm not saying that in every situation people should stay in their marriages. But, Muhammad Ali lighting a flame just doesn't seem like one of them, does it?
We help to make each other all that we can be
Though we can find our strength and inspiration independently
The way we work together is what sets our love apart
So closely that we can't tell where I end and where you start
So, yeah, maybe love is a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe there will be times when our spouse drives us so crazy that we want to leave. But, at least from my perspective, things always get better. Going back up stairs that day instead of walking out the door was a choice for love that I made. Love is Something That We do. Thanks for the song inspiration, Duane!
Click the link below to hear Clint's song: