Last year I was doing some premarital counseling with a young couple engaged to be married. I asked them to share with me the story of how he proposed. There was no video or anything new or unusual about the proposal, but take a minute to read what happened and the reminder it is to all of us who are married.
Tom and Chandra (names changed for the story) were both ready for marriage and it was now just finding the right time and place to pop the question. For Tom, the opportunity to go along with Chandra’s family to New York at Christmas presented just what he needed.
Reservations for two were made at a wonderful but off the beaten path restaurant. After dinner he would take her where else, but to the top of the Empire State building. There, alone at the top of the world, he would pull out the ring, and just like the movies, all the stars would align and everything would be perfect!
Well, almost everything turned out to be perfect. Dinner was perfect. She was looking beautiful as always. He was feeling confident and sure. All of that changed when they arrived at the top of the tower. Instead of a wonderful, romantic bubble reserved just for the two of them, Tom shared that to his dismay it was jam-packed with other people, noise and lots of jockeying for position. In sum, it was anything but calm and romantic.
Tom panicked, and couldn’t find a place in the crowd to do things the way he imagined. Flustered, he was about to throw in the towel and wait for another day. After a few minutes at the top, they began to head back to the elevator when something told Tom to stop. Something told him to go back and “make it work.”
Filled with a renewed sense of confidence and importance, Tom asked Chandra to come with him as he took her back to a viewpoint out in the crowd. Ignoring those around them, Tom says he looked Chandra in the eye and everything else disappeared except the two of them. He pulled out the ring, proposed, and the two celebrated for several minutes “on top of the world!”
Making It Work
Tom’s description of the crowd and how it almost deterred him says something that is real for many of us. As husbands and wives, life is busy and we are crowded all around with deadlines, requests, appointments, meetings, responsibilities, not to mention family and friends. The reality is that the crowd around us will not part and give us space. Other people and demands on us will not stop to give us time to go and spend some meaningful time with our spouse.
That is why I loved what Tom said. There, at the elevator, he decided to “make it work”. This is what many of us desperately need to do. We need to silence all the other voices. We need to barge into our busyness and say, “Aside, everyone and everything! Tonight I am taking my wife out to dinner and nothing can stop me! Aside, email, Twitter and Facebook. Tonight we will take a walk together! Aside fear! Today I will share and discuss things with my spouse that I’ve been putting off, but would be good for us to talk about. Aside, television or whatever else is knocking, for today I shall write my beloved a note of appreciation!”
I know, I know. Wake up, Nick. You’re talking goofy. But think about if for a minute. Life will not stop and give us the time to do these things. Life is crowded with wonderful and challenging stuff all around us. It is up to us to make it work, to ignore the crowd so that we might invest in our spouse and our life together. Not in things, but in each other. In “us.”
I confess I am not real good at this. My wife will read this and probably print it up and put it on my desk with a smiley face. Few of us are doing this well, and too many times we have gotten back on the elevator and gone home, missing out on another opportunity for something wonderful or meaningful with our beloved. And the great thing is we don’t have to try all that hard. Sometimes the top of the world can be found at the kitchen table, or across a Backgammon board, or playing tennis, or praying together.
As Tom said we must “make it work.” To that, be encouraged and press on. As always, I would love to hear your own insights, and feel free to share your own story of “making it work”.