I know no better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to share how I met my Valentine almost twenty-five years ago and how we snuck up on commitment. (This true story also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!: 101 Inspirational Stories about Fun, Family, and Wedded Bliss )
Happy Valentine’s Day my lovely Ann.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but to find the barriers in yourself that you have built against it.” ~ A Course In Miracles ~
Forever can be a long time. For many people, the idea of committing to something or someone for forever can be so right-in-your-face intimidating, it’s often easier to just avoid it at all cost. Such commitments can bring up a huge block of fear as we remember all our other failed attempts to stay committed. This was certainly the case when Ann and I first met.
Ann and I met in the hallway prior to a workshop entitled More Money. The workshop’s homework assignment was to list 100 things we wanted to do, be or have. I listened as Ann shared with another participant two items on her list: a committed relationship and a romantic relationship. As a way to enter into the conversation (in my own smart-ass style), I asked her why those were two separate items? Didn’t it make more sense to combine them into one — a committed and romantic relationship?
I then made sure I sat next to her in class since being in a committed relationship was on my list as well, and I found her to be cute and very engaging. A few weeks later, after going out on three or four dates, I informed her I was ready for a committed, romantic relationship and asked if she was ready as well.
I still remember the shocked look on Ann’s face as she backed away from me saying, “Whoa, whoa, whoa — not so fast! If I was any good at committed relationships I’d still be married to my first husband.”
Well, I could understand her point-of-view. I’d been through not one, but two divorces of my own and had a long list of other failed attempts at committed relationships. Thinking fast on my feet, I made a counter offer.
“Would you be willing to go for a 24-hour committed relationship?” At first, she thought I was just joking so I repeated, “Let’s go for a 24-hour committed relationship. Surely we can make it for 24-hours, right?”
So we agreed.
The next day, 24 hours later, I called to congratulate her. She asked, “What for?”
“Congratulations for your first successful, committed relationship. Now, are you ready to try for another one? How about one for 48 hours? 48 hours isn’t that much longer than 24 hours, right?” She agreed once again.
Sure enough, we made it through the 48-hour one and also a 72-hour committed relationship. As our confidence grew, we decided to take on a much longer stretch of time. We enrolled in a five day personal development retreat together. The entire trip would take 10 days, so we committed to staying together for the whole time.
Midway through the retreat we were sure we’d sabotaged our relationship. The program brought up all our ugly stuff — the stuff you really don’t want someone else to see, especially the person you’ve just started dating. While neither of us were thrilled revealing that side of ourselves, we hung in there, and by the end of the program we announced to the entire group that we were committing to a six month relationship.
After completing the six months, we made a second six month commitment. During the second six months, as we sat on the deck of a restaurant over-looking the San Francisco Bay Bridge sipping a mimosa, Ann proposed to me.
We’ve now been married for over 20 years. Some commitments are worth sneaking up on!
Since selling his veterinary practice in the late 80’s, W, Bradford Swift has published hundreds of magazine articles in such publications as Unity Magazine, AARP , Body and Soul, Yoga Journal, and Science of Mind. He is also the author of Life On Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life — an award winning finalist in the Self-Help: Motivational division of the Best Books 2007 Awards sponsored by USA News, and From Spark to Flame: Fanning Your Passion & Ideas into Moneymaking Magazine Articles that Make a Difference.