It’s said that desperate times call for desperate measures.
For my husband Ted and me, one such measure occurred en route to our honeymoon destination, Paris.
On the car ride from our condo to the airport, it struck us that we’d forgotten one very important item: a camera. I mean, seriously, who — prior to the days of iPhones and Instagram — packs for the City of Light and forgets a good, old-fashioned camera?
Yeah, that would be us.
No big deal, we decided. We’d make a quick stop and buy one. So there we were, at a K-mart less than a mile away from Norfolk International Airport, frantically determining our photographic future. Not only did we choose poorly in a store, but this was before the ease of googling reviews on that handy-dandy smartphone.
Desperate times, people. Desperate times.
We wouldn’t discover until over 7,000 miles later that’d we might as well have taped the word “loser” to our foreheads.
Our developed film revealed the not-so-pleasant surprise that we’d invested our money in a 110 camera. Remember those? Perhaps we should have invested a bit more money in our purchase and, oh, I don’t know, maybe read the packaging materials more closely. In our defense, we now own a Nikon DSLR. We’ve learned.
The whole “Paris Honeymoon Camera Fiasco,” as I’ll call it, could have created an ongoing point of contention for Ted and me if we’d let it. After all, who was supposed to track down and pack the camera? And whose idea was it to grab a photographer’s nightmare off the shelf? Instead, we chose — from the beginning — to see the humor in it.
A lighthearted marriage
Over the last decade of marriage, a sense of levity — or lightheartedness — has carried us through a myriad of seasons. We’ve navigated the joy of our daughters’ births as well as the pain of job loss, cross-country moves, and a miscarriage. And while we’ve certainly cried tears of frustration and grief along the way, we’ve also never stopped finding the humor in life.
M.M. Belfie once said, “Something special happens when people laugh together over something genuinely funny and not hurtful to anyone. It’s like a magic rain that showers down feelings of safety and belonging to a group.” I don’t know about magic rain, but for us, laughter has been “good medicine.” In fact, if there’s one thing we know how to do — and do well — it’s laugh together.
So how do you maintain a spirit of lightheartedness in your marriage? The most important element we’ve learned is that of an unburdened heart.
The unburdened heart
Dictionary.com defines unburdened as “to cast off or get rid of, as a burden or something burdensome.” What is a burden? It’s a “weight, encumbrance, impediment.” In marriage, this can translate to unforgiveness or holding a grudge.
If you ask Ted about our arguments — whether intense or trivial — he’s likely to shrug his shoulders for lack of remembrance. This man just doesn’t invest the energy into storing how I’ve sinned against him in the past. Once it’s settled, it’s settled. Me? Sure, I may recall what a disagreement was about, but I can look back at it with appreciation for what we learned through it.
We try to live in the joy and freedom that comes with short accounts. We do our best not to hold grudges and instead to extend grace. Remember the camera? Well, we’ve had a lot more “camera” moments in our marriage. Let’s see, there was … um … okay, I guess my memory isn’t that great either.
My point is this: An unburdened heart can’t co-exist with a record of wrongs. It’s difficult to feel lighthearted and at ease with someone you’re keeping a tally on. With forgiveness comes freedom. Because we both know the other isn’t holding any grudges, we’re able to be ourselves, to admit our weaknesses or immature reactions and laugh about them together.
When it all comes down to it, an unburdened heart is a lighthearted heart.
One day, Ted and I will return to Paris. This time, though, with our iPhone 7’s in tow. Of course, we’ll also be sure to bring along the levity that’s served our marriage well since that “Paris Honeymoon Camera Fiasco.”