I was about to leave the grocery store when I caught a whiff of freshly-brewed coffee from a coffee kiosk. It woke me out of my shopping trance and tempted me with caffeine pleasure. I almost succumbed, but decided a sniff was cheaper than a sip.

As I stood there smelling the coffee, I noticed a sign on the counter:

Our new anniversary blend.
Well worth the wait.
Bring some home today.

Hmm. It must have been the word anniversary that flipped my thoughts to my marriage. I reread the sign a few times and thought, Wow, there’s a lot of wisdom packed in that slogan.

“Our new anniversary blend”: There’s a spirit of pride and ownership in those words. Some business people had a vision for marketing great coffee. They made a commitment,  purchased a coffee roaster, ordered sacks of beans from Costa Rica, and on opening day the world became a better place. And the obvious genius of these coffee connoisseurs’ success is that hundreds of batches later they are still tweaking their product.

When my husband, Roger, and I are stuck in the sludge of busy routines and unacknowledged assumptions, I get restless for a “fresh cup of coffee” in our relationship. There it is: the big “I.” Did you notice? That one-letter pronoun is a glimpse into my heart. It’s so easy for me to just focus on what “I want” instead of what “We need.”  Marriage is a far greater commitment than a business partnership, but the analogy reminds me that every day I need to take ownership not only for my part, but for our start.

Our marriage vow makes me an equal partner in contributing to a new anniversary blend.  Yet, I’m often guilty of stepping up to the counter of our relationship expecting Roger to serve me without a thought of how I can serve him.

“Well worth the wait”: The experts know it takes time to learn how to properly roast and brew a great cup of coffee. They work through the glitches, failures, and frustrations. They learn about aroma, flavor, acidity, body, finish, and aftertaste. And when they serve the best they have to offer, the wise ones keep working on making it better. They don’t give up. They don’t go passive.

What a contrast this is to our culture’s attitude about marriage. For many, marriage is as disposable as breakfast’s soggy, used coffee grounds.

Marriage is hard work, forged in the drama of selfishness, loss, hurt, change, and disappointment. But I’ve noticed that the couples who work hard on their relationship  experience the greatest rewards.

Companionship. Respect. Love. Legacy. These words mean more to me now that my husband and I are in our fourth decade of marriage. I’m an incurable admirer of the passionate vibes flowing between a bride and a groom at the altar. But the glow of Eden at a wedding ceremony is a dim light compared to the couple that commits itself to the daily investments of kindness and forgiveness.  Instead of thinking that time is working against my marriage, I need to see time as my friend. I need to invest today. It will make tomorrow well worth the wait.

“Bring some home today”: How simple! I can do that. I must do that. I will do that. I’m going to take home the gift of love to that one person in this world I’ve made a covenant with, my husband.

And when my pride protests, I’m going to remember the example of my father at age 90. He and Mom were sitting in their apartment on a warm summer day, living the still life of agedness. Out of the blue Mom said, “Oh, how I’d love to eat a Buster Bar.” This specialty from Dairy Queen was Mom’s favorite indulgence.

Her words were merely a passing yearning, but Dad caught wind. Later, Dad, with gnarled, numb feet and a rickety walker said, “I’m going for a walk.” His custom was to painstakingly walk the path around the retirement facility. But love had another ambition that was blocks away. Time passed. Mom wondered what was taking so long. But Dad came home, with a melting puddle of ice cream contained in a Buster Bar wrapper.

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