James Taylor Said It Better

There are so many love songs that are special to me. A few of them come from the legendary musicianship of James Taylor. For more than 50 years he has been weaving together musical poetry and performing the same with the ease and familiarity of a lifelong friend recalling a common memory.

One of his early songs captures so much about my own relationship with my beloved wife. I wrote about it on the occasion of our 19th anniversary and we’re coming up on 31 years. But on this Valentine’s Day (in 2022 as I write this), I am more grateful than ever for the therapeutic influence of this woman upon my life.

The time we spend together is like medicine for my mind and a tonic for my nervous disposition. Time with her buoys my spirit and encourages my dreaming even while it makes me so very mindful of the anchoring points of my life. It’s inevitable that, when we’ve been too busy to spend some down time together, I’m simply not as well as I when we do.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in our time together. We’ve raised and launched a bunch of people that have turned out to be pretty amazing humans. We’ve nurtured and supported a number of others in their journeys. We’ve fought for marriages beyond our own and we’ve mourned as some of them crashed on the rocks. It’s possible that we’ve been so busy taking care of others that we’ve often neglected ourselves. We’re learning more every day about living together, loving together, growing together.

But one thing that most people who know me can probably recognize is that we are so much better together. And I am so very much better when we are together.

But then, James Taylor said it better in his classic, “Something In The Way She Moves.”

Enjoy it with me here.

Take The World

Have you ever just felt like a relationship was under attack? The heartaches of life pile up and the storms of struggle and grief feel like they’re sandblasting the stones we’re trying to stand upon. Erosion is real in relationships… but especially in the unique bond that a marriage is supposed to be.

I have long held that there are three distinct postures that are crucial to standing up to the attacks and simply enduring with a relationship intact.

We need time face to face—talking about life, being honest with our feelings, dreams, heartaches, and so on. In general I think ladies tend to be more in touch with this need, but it’s crucial.

We also need to spend some time together shoulder to shoulder… like driving down the road or working on a project or serving others side by side. Men seem to have a stronger need for this kind of time together.

But there is a third that is necessary as we have to engage with the world around us—kids and extended family, coworkers, neighbors… all the others. Life comes at us with intensity. We need to face all of the other time when we’re not able to be face to face or shoulder to shoulder in a strong, sort of defensive posture. We need to live back to back. We need to live in such a way that no one can come between us. Our kids can’t play us against one another. Our careers can’t drive wedges into our relationship.

And when we get all three of these postures figured out… we build some serious endurance.

I’m enamored with the intimate stylings of Johnnyswim. In case you’re not acquainted, this is a husband and wife duo that makes some really great music together (and some absolutely beautiful children). Their song, “Take The World,” is a breath of courage to me in a season of weariness and desire to keep growing in my marriage.

You won’t regret watching this simple acoustic rendition.

These words (from the second verse) describe a sentiment that my beloved and I have been reminding each other of quite often in recent months:

Oh I can see the future
You and me we last forever
In the rising tide no fear or fight
That we can't face together
Darling you and me
We can take the world

Back in the very beginning of humanity, the designer put a man and a woman together and established the pattern that we would leave our parents and “cleave” to our spouse. The idea is one of being sort of welded together. It’s a bond that is intended to last as long as both partners are alive. It’s a bond that is supposed to be physical (yes, even sexual) and emotional and spiritual. It’s a bond that should endure whatever the world and this life throw at us.

It’s a bond designed to take a beating.

SO… that’s kind of what it means to “take the world.”

So to my very own beloved, I say again: “We’ve got this.”

We can take the world.

Like We Do

I’ve been a fan of Harry Connick Jr. for many years—musically speaking. There are a number of his classics on my playlist of love songs. It’s a special kind of mix of smooth and quirky and funky that most always has a musical depth that comes from his deep jazz roots.

One of my more recent favorites of his is a catchy little tune called “Like We Do.” (Check it out here.)

It’s a celebration of the uniqueness of a relationship. Consider this chorus:

Nobody got a you like me
Nobody got this history
And the good times, and the hard times
And the wild time we've been through
Nobody got a me like you
And I ain't much but this much is true
No one does "I do" like we do

I think we all tend to see things in the meaningful examples in our lives, good things and bad, and try to learn from if not directly implement some of the practices of those other relationships. But I love that Harry reminds us that his intention is not to say his marriage is better than mine or anyone else’s. He is simply celebrating with his beloved that theirs is one of a kind.

I feel that very deeply. I tend to think I have one of the strongest marriages I’ve ever seen but I’m usually pretty quick to point out that I believe it’s because of God’s grace alone as He has provided so many great examples and great encouragers and great tools to help us along the way. I don’t expect anyone to pattern their marriage after mine or compare theirs with ours.

We have our ways of dealing with struggles and keeping things centered and sharing the joys and pains of life together. We have our own unique way of doing “I do” together. I’m not suggesting ours is better. I’m just saying it is ours… and it’s a work in progress, a relationship still growing, refining, reforming.

One of the biggest dangers in our social media world is the nearly inescapable trap of comparison it draws us into. We all tend to post the most flattering things about our lives… and understandably so. But then we can hardly resist comparing our difficult and less flattering moments with the shiny representations of life that our acquaintances are posting.

In our more rational moments we recognize that it’s a trap. But the feelings and the comparison reflexes are beyond our rational minds. It plays on and feeds our insecurities.

If you are married or are considering marriage on the horizon, I want to remind you that God, in His infinite wisdom has plans for unique combinations of personalities that will reflect the uniqueness of His relationship with each of His people. He is infinitely creative and has made each of us more unique than the snowflakes. Be the unique version of “I do” that God made you to be.

And this is why I borrow Mr. Connick’s fun little groove. This wonder called marriage, this special “I do” that we do, is a great gift of God to celebrate.