Lori and I just celebrated our 34 years of marriage.
I remember when we were dating and occasionally drove up the mountain road to Chantry Flats in the San Gabriel Mountains that bordered our hometown. In a few quick miles there were several turn outs that provided a perch to view the shimmering evening lights of LA.
We’d go up there to pray over the city!
Once we were cruising the twisty road and came up behind an older car dawdling up the grade piloted by an older couple - I was 22, they had to be in their 80’s. Once I got past the frustration of their slow pace bottlenecking a growing line of impatient road hacks I noticed how close Gram and Gramps were sitting. They were like two peas in a pod (do I sound like Forest Gump?), tight as could be right up alongside one another. In those days it was common for a car’s front seat to be a bench seat and the absence of mandatory seat belt laws made it easy to snuggle while you drove. He had one hand on the wheel and the other around her shoulder.
We were mesmerized by an old married couple being so in love… after decades! Following them for a couple of miles I think a little cynicism I had about marriage was being dismantled by this pair of silver-haired lovers. Deeper than my cynicism was a latent desire for a marital intimacy and relationship that would thrive over the decades. Decades! I knew that someday, with someone, I’d say something along the lines of “till death do us part”, but long loving marriages weren’t a prominent theme in my world, and besides, the rapture was due in the next year or two making any long term commitment a mute point. Until that moment I don’t think I ever considered a long loving ever-increasing intimate marriage a very real possibility. Lori and I were captivated by the untold love story putzing along in front of us. When they pulled over into a familiar turn out, we couldn’t help but pull in right alongside of them. There they sat enjoying the city lights, there we sat enjoying them and began to believe and hope for ourselves. At the time I said to myself and then out loud, that’s what I want… I want to be that couple at that age… in this turn out, very much in love.
On many occasions since I’ve remembered that couple.
34 years into a marriage I hope lasts for seventy I think we have an incredible marriage... but, I know there’s so much more for us to experience, enjoy, offer and be, as husband and wife. Many times I’ve said to Lori, “I cannot wait till we’ve been married for 50 years… by then I will have become more the man who loves you as God intended you to be loved.”
We’re closing in on that older couple we saw 36 years ago, and I'm no longer a cynic. I know firsthand that a long lasting loving intimate marriage is possible! It is good!
If you see us pulled over in a turn out, pull up alongside, but hey, don’t flash the lights… we’re praying!
- Craig McConnell