I grew up in a small town in Indiana where cornfields cover much of the landscape. Crickets and fireflies start their serenade around 7pm and the rest of the town goes to bed shortly there after. I lived in a tight knit community where everybody knew everybody. Some families were so close they were like family. Carrie’s family was like family. Though I don’t remember being spanked by Carrie’s mom, I am sure she had permission to do so…it was that kind of family friendship.
One of my favorite childhood memories was sleeping over at Carrie’s house on Friday nights. Carrie’s dad was a police officer and on Saturday mornings he would heroically deliver Burger King egg and cheese croissants to the breakfast table. (It must have been some sort of benefit Burger King gave police officers in our area–think doughnuts in croissant form. Either way, I was thrilled to be a beneficiarcy.) I still get nostalgic thinking about biting in to a buttery croissant while listening to Carrie’s dad dish the police events from the night before. In high school Bob would tell saucy stories of tipsy sorority sisters, or frat brothers getting a little too mouthy. Carolyn (Carrie’s mom) would pipe in at times with an, “Oh BOB!” if things seemed a bit past the PG-13 mark. I treasured Saturday mornings at their house…but it wasn’t my strongest memory of this couple.
Creatures of habit…hence the BK breakfast every Saturday…Carolyn and Bob had an unmissable morning ritual. Religiously the couple would roll out of bed and walk 5 miles every day. Rain, shine, snow…it was all the same. Day in and day out the duo pounded the flat pavement. Five miles every day.
Chris and I have been given the unique opportunity to live on a 600 acre property with neighbors a few steps away as well as 24/7 security. This has afforded us the opportunity to leave our kids each morning to go on a 2 mile walk. Our energetic lab puppy was the main catalyst for this decision, but it has proven very healthy for our hearts and our marriage. Somehow moving through the dusty red roads each morning has given a rhythm to our day. The conversation allows us to connect on a deeper level before the rest of the world invades our space. We sometimes walk in silence, sometimes our conversations pull from something residual the day before. Small irritations surface, and a disagreement will follow. I am so thankful for these impromptu disputes as I am certain those irritations would be stuffed and buried beneath the hustle and bustle of daily life…till one day they emerge a mountain of discontent. The words shared on our walks can be deep and weighty, and other times simply lay out the schedule for the day. I am realizing how very much I cherish this time. It is making a life-long investment in our marriage. There is something about physically moving our bodies and pounding out the issues of the heart that is quite sacred.
As a child, I don’t know if I thought Carolyn and Bob were a bit crazy to walk 5 miles in the freezing cold, or if I was really neutral to the whole thing? They never made a big deal about their walks…they just did it. Looking back, I can tell it was good for their hearts physically but maritally it was a brilliant investment. Their devotion made a mark on me. I admire their discipline and commitment to one another, and 41 married years later, they are still walking.
I know some couples talk quietly over a cup of coffee in the morning. Others enjoy “couch time” where mom and dad sit uninterrupted for 20 minutes to discuss the day…kid free. Still others sneak away for a lunch break. What would it look like in your world to pull together daily to connect with your spouse? There is no magic bullet for life long marital bliss…but this is a great starting point.
As this week marks our 16th wedding anniversary, I realize more than ever this kind of spousal connection is crucial for continued health in our marriage. Marriage is not easy…it takes work. I want to be remembered by my children and my children’s friends for many things…but I sure wouldn’t be disappointed if Chris and I were remembered as the crazy couple who walked together every morning.
In appreciation of…
Bob and Carolyn Vogel. Grateful for your example and for living out the little things that make a big impression.
Chris for 16 sweet years of walking this journey with me.
May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,