“Okay everybody. Please find a seat and we’ll get started.” Our assistant pastor was standing in front of the conference room, trying to get 65 couples to quit talking and sit down. It was the final morning of the Young Married Weekend Retreat, sponsored by our church and attended by nearly all of the freshly married couples who attended our church. Ellen and I were married for three years and starting to get the itch to expand our family so the weekend represented one of the last times we would have a chance to get away sans children for the next few years. At least that was our hope.
The speakers had been good, but it was not anything we hadn’t heard before. How many times can you be told “communication is the key to a healthy marriage” and “never go to bed angry” before you get the point? The two days were used more as an excuse to get away and hang out with friends more than a chance to strengthen our marriages. We were all in our twenties and hadn’t traveled the matrimonial road long enough to detect future problems. Either that or we were too naïve to care.
As we settled in for the final session, I grabbed Ellen’s hand and we exchanged squeezes throughout the announcements and a couple of songs. When the guest speaker took the stage the first thing he said was, “I want you to look around the room. Look at the faces of each and every couple in this room. Look at the couples sitting right next to you, behind you and in front of you. Record those faces in your memory bank and do your best to keep them fresh.” As he spoke, we obeyed, scanning each corner of the room and then checking out the people around us. The noise level quickly swelled as we caught each other’s eyes and started laughing. After a few minutes, the speaker continued.
“The reason I wanted to go through that exercise was I wanted you to have everyone in this room clearly in your mind when I read this statistic: Right now, in the United States of America, 50% of all marriages will end in divorce.” That wasn’t news, at least to me. “To put that in perspective, if that holds true, one of the two couples on either side of you this morning will get divorced. Half of the couples in this room this morning, their marriages will end in divorce.”
I looked at Ellen and rolled my eyes. She smiled and shook her head. We were thinking the same thing. There was no way that would happen. Sure, some of the couples would probably end up divorced, but half? I believed the world outside the church walls was taking on a larger burden of that statistic, making our group’s odds for success a little higher. Besides, even if every other couple in the room got divorced it would never happen to us. We were EllenandEarl. EarlandEllen. Two people, one word. What God had joined together let no man put asunder. We were in this for the long haul, ‘til death do us part.
This is an excerpt of a full length novel entitled “Back Again.” You can read it in it’s entirety by downloading it from here or you can keep coming back to this site and read it in chapter chunks over time. Your call but, either way, I hope you will read it and, most of all, enjoy it. And leave a comment or two. It lets me know you are out there…