When you are young, you are convinced you have it all figured out. And that’s not a bad thing. The confidence and assuredness is endearing and sweet. But of course it is also, a little ignorant. I say that because I know. I too was that young girl, once upon a time.
I stood there at the altar believing I knew. We had it all together. After all, we dated for 5-years. We did the pre-marital counseling thing. We had a strong community of support. We had faith. So, finally, we were stepping into our happily ever after.
All eyes were on us. For one day, he the prince and I the princess. The childlike dream was now reality. For better or worse. For rich or poor. In sickness and in health. Til death do we part. The sincerity and enthusiasm that tumbled out of our mouths. We meant ever word we said!
We became one that day. They said it at our ceremony. Somewhere between the vows and the rings. It sounded so good. Like words out of some famous love story. But I had no idea what it meant.
To be honest, I had no idea, and we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! We exchanged rings, he kissed the bride, we signed some papers and it was official, the two were now one.
That was 32 years ago. Time flies. I’m not that naïve young girl anymore. I’ve passed through many seasons and I am wiser, stronger, and have a much better understanding of this treasured union called marriage. Wish I understood then, what I know now.
See, the novelty and romance, well, it is a matter of time before that wears off. I don’t mean this in a discouraging way and I don’t mean there’s never romance. But it changes. And it’s a good change. You grow-up and realize that piece of marriage is so small in comparison to every other aspect.
And marriage is work. Hard work. His burdens become your burdens and his struggles are now yours to help carry. And of course, vice versa. There’s these things you learn about this person that you had never known before you said I do. And then, you change, he changes. You grow-up. Life throws these challenging darts. Children enter the scene. And you wake up realizing you are no longer those giddy kids standing at the alter.
But sadly, many marriages begin to crumble when those shifts begin. When your foundation is built on such a weak structure, it’s only a matter of time. A marriage will never sustain itself if it is built on a foundation with fractures.
We’ve experienced it all. You know, the better and worse, sickness and health. Okay, we’ve never experienced rich, but we’ve had our moments of struggle. And it’s been so much more. We’ve lost together. We’ve buried together. We’ve hurt, mourned, agonized and worried. We’ve celebrated, and achieved and we’ve laughed and danced. We’ve fought and fought more, and fought hard. That’s not discussed a whole lot when you’re painted up pretty on the alter…… but then we also forgave.we’ve also been party to restoration.
By the grace and help of God, we created three humans together. We made a family. We raised our boys to men together. And it wasn’t easy. As wonderful as our sons are, they brought us to our knees in desperation. But again, isn’t that where a parent should be?
You go through the marriage journey and you change. I’m not the same girl I was standing at the altar 32 years ago and I thank God for that. And he’s not the same boy who slipped that ring on my finger. And it’s good.
People change. But the vows don’t. The promise and covenant doesn’t become null and void because we change and look different. The promise doesn’t relent because the journey is rough. When the fantasy fades and reality is real, you don’t get to look for a new Prince Charming. There are no caveats in that marital contract that make it okay to abandon the marital ship. And it’s hard. It’s very hard. We’ve had our moments. But the covenant isn’t ours to break.
I’ve learned that love and marriage are a choice. You choose to love when you really don’t like. You choose to honor when you are seething with anger. You choose to forgive and then forget never harboring bitterness. You choose him above yourself. You sacrifice. You know, the kind of love Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians. Imagine if we all did that! But it’s so hard. And yet, it is oh so beautiful.
If I could I could go back and tell my 23-year old self a little something about marriage and relationship, I would. I would tell her something I wish I learned long before I said I do. I would her, no man will ever complete you. Don’t expect it. Don’t put that kind of pressure on him. It’s not about you.
Before you walk the down that aisle, be complete and whole in Jesus Christ. See, marriage is not what he can give to me and It’s not what I am going to get out of it. That is why so many fail. The perspective has to change. When we marry, it’s not about us. It has to be what we can give to our spouse. And when you are whole, and complete in Jesus you are are able to lay down your life for your him.
Of course, I’ve learned that along the way. And so has he! Love your wife as Christ love the church. That was his charge. And he does. He truly does. I’m not always an easy woman. Shocker. Believe it or not, I can be difficult. But he understands, the marriage covenant he made wasn’t about him. It was a commitment and promise he made to Christ to love, honor and cherish me. He doesn’t do these things because he promised me, he made a contract with Christ. He’s fulfilling his requirement. And that only happens when you are whole and complete with Christ. Then you are able to live as Christ loved the church. Then the foundation is right.
The two shall become one. So much power in this union. It’s incredible. It’s amazing. It’s awesome. It’s a privilege. Its an honor. It’s a journey. It’s marriage.
So happy anniversary to my husband. The man who slowed down so I could catch up. The man who chooses me everyday (even those ugly days). The man who pushes me, believes in me, fights for me, and grows with me. Cheers to the absolute best 32 years of this crazy girl’s life.