*Please note this post is longer than “ought to be,” so I ask you to bear with me.

The Way of Love

Never in a million, trillion years would I have thought Gift from the Sea was filled to the brim with marital advice. As I sat under my beloved beach umbrella, brown pelicans dancing in unison above me, and sank into the sands of Lindbergh’s wise words, they moved me beyond words. Captivated by her intense insights into the reality of relationships, with particular emphasis on marital relationships, I found myself spellbound.

This was a wise woman, I thought. I took out my highlighter and pencil and took serious notes.

Dead Weight Accumulation

The Way of Love

Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes of the “Double-Sunrise” or “double-hinged shell” phase of married relationships. She was given this shell by a passerby on the beach who nonchalantly handed it to her and one would think that these ordinary shells actually carry on a conversation with Anne.

Initially this double-sunrise shell represents the “golden hinge that binds the two together” like the initial stage of a marriage.

Two lovers, free and easy, unencumbered by the weight of heavier shells. “Its self-enclosed perfection wears the freshness of a spring morning,” she writes. “Yet, without evening noticing at first, the relationship begins to change. There is dead weight accumulation,” she says, “a coating of false values, habits, and burdens which blights life. It is this smothering coat that needs constantly to be stripped off, in life as well as in other relationships.”

Uncovering the Core Reality

What she said next really got me thinking:

“In a growing relationship, however, the original essence is not lost but merely buried under the impedimenta of life. The core of reality is still there and needs only to be uncovered and reaffirmed. One way of rediscovering the double-sunrise is to duplicate some of its circumstances. Husband and wife should go off on vacations alone and also on vacations alone together. For if it is possible that woman can find herself by having a vacation alone, it is equally possible that the original relationship can sometimes be refound by having a vacation alone together. Most married couples have felt the unexpected joy of one of these vacations. How surprising it is to find the miracle of the sunrise repeated.”

She goes on and on…but for today, I’m sitting my beach chair next to this thought.

The Gray Divorce Revolution

As I wrote last week, it is absolutely essential to stay in touch with our inner selves. WE have to know whose we are and who we are in order to give to others. Running on empty leads to serious medical and psychological issues. Running on empty leads to relationship challenges, as well.

Not only do we run on empty, we slowly and subtly slip away from one another—one activity at a time—much like grains of sand slip through our fingers.

The Way of Love

A new phenomenon, “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” is storming the gates.  In fact, “For baby boomers, divorce has almost become, like marriage, another rite of passage. The post-World War II generation is setting new records for divorce : Americans over 50 are twice as likely to get divorced as people of that age were 20 years ago.”

Yikes. That is me!

I am not surprised by this statistic or new graying revolution because I know plenty of women who are currently in that place. Just last week, I spoke to a dear who said, “Yes, I am in a new place. My husband just left me after 39 years and 10 months of marriage.”

The Unexpected Joy of Rediscovering One Another

What, then, do we do?

We fight like heck for our relationship. Instead of sweeping things under the rugs (just imagine the pile after 30 years), we get help when we need it and we MAKE sure that we take time to get away.

That is what I have valued most in my relationship with Rob. WE have always been a very high priority. When we had little money, he packed a picnic. There were NO excuses. He always made time for US.

Thank you, dear man of mine.

On August 4, Rob and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We traveled back to Ocracoke Island (NC) to retrace the last two days of our honeymoon. It was a dreak day, monsoon-like conditions at times, but we forged ahead. It added to the romance of it all, I think.

The Way of Love

The Way of Love is Full of Bumps and Bruises

After an hour ferry ride (oh I do love my trains and ferries), we headed downtown, parked the car, and began walking around—or should I say “wading” around? Little ponds flooded the streets. As we happened upon a bike rental shop, Rob saw mopeds.

“Hey, let’s hop on a moped,” he said. “Like we did in Bermuda.”

“Umm….okay?” I hesitated. “It’s awful wet. Is that a good idea?”

“Sure,” he said. “No worries.”

“Maybe we should take bikes,” I smiled.

Well, our decision was made for us when we were told only one person per bike. I sure as heck wasn’t driving one of those things in the pouring rain. So, we chose safe beach bikes. Everyone was happy (well, sort of) and once again, as so many times before, we compromised. Or should I say Rob compromised?

The Way of Love

Instead of mopeds/scooters, we chose bikes. Safer option, right?

Yes, until I decided to take a full fledge fall on a very rocky parking lot. In true Janell fashion, I didn’t just go down, oh no, I went down hard.

There was absolutely nothing Rob could do, except help me up. I admit, I said a bad word…it hurt SO STINKING BAD!

But, I refused to let this stupid accident stop the festivities. Thankfully, we had ice in the cooler, antibacterial wipes, and pain medicine.

 The Way of Love photo 4

The Way of Love

After peddling back to the car, we gave the throbbing a few minutes and together, as we always do, mapped out the rest of the day.

“Let’s go ahead and get back to the ferry,” Rob said. “That’s probably best.”

As we began the 14 mile ride from the town to the ferry, the rain stopped.

“Should we try the beach?” he said.

“Absolutely!” I smiled.

We set up our beach chairs on the most beautiful, almost deserted beach, popped open a beautiful bottle of Austrian wine that I had brought back from my trip to Prague/Vienna (with Candace Rose), and cheered to the bumps and bruises and battles and blessings and beauty and BRILLIANCE of our 30 years of marriage.

Defy the Odds

Today, this message is for the married—whether you’ve been married 6 months or 45 years.

How is your marriage doing? Are you numb from years of bumps and bruises (metaphorical)? Are you stuck in a rut? Are you letting your love sift through your fingers like sand? Or, are you just okay?

My prayer is that you will listen to the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh:

  • Throw off the dead weight accumulation which is “a coating of false values, habits, and burdens which blights life. It is this smothering coat that needs constantly to be stripped off.”
  • Uncover the core of your reality—that first “double sunrise” of love.
  • Take a much-needed vacation alone. Just the two of you. It may just be a short ride to watch the sunset. That is completely free.
  • Rediscover the joy of one another.
  • Remember that your relationship as husband and wife is HIGH PRIORITY. Your children need to see your happy marriage.

And, if you need help….(this is Janell talking, not Anne)….GET IT. Marriage and family is my specialty.

We can Skype or meet in person.

I’m a click away.

Read more: NPR interview with Reeve Lindbergh, Anne’s youngest daughter