Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togeva today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement. That dweam wifin a dweam. – The Princess Bride
(Man, I hope my kids love that movie. It will give me an excuse to watch it again.)
One of God’s sweet graces in this life is marriage. Those who’ve had an unsuccessful and/or unhappy one will balk me on that one! What makes a marriage successful? Heck if I know. Jonathan & I are fumbling our way through it just like everyone else. Today is my wedding anniversary. Ten years ago, I stood on a beach in my bare feet and made a commitment to a dashing young man. I had no idea what marriage was all about. My thoughts of grandeur included a swelling heart each time I awoke to find my groom sleeping next to me and a swoon of pride as he slayed our dragons. I hate that our society fills us with these ideas of endless passion and unsustainable emotional highs. I heart a good love story like the next chick, but we stuff our expectations of marriage into a pearly white wedding and top it with a tulle bow and don’t think about what comes when there’s more stinky breath and screaming kids than buttercream icing and champagne.
If we depend on another human being for our happiness, we are destined for disappointment…and maybe divorce. God promise in marriage is not someone to love us unconditionally. That’s His role. At its base, marriage is to bring glory to Him through teaching us to love...not to BE loved. We just take it upon our selfish, human selves to make marriage about us and our need to be precious to someone. That’s a pretty heavy load for another person to take. Hey, I need you to always be on top of your game and think I am awesome and tell me so repeatedly and never make mistakes yourself because I want to be happy and you are responsible for making me happy. Yeah, that sounds fun. Sign me up for that.
It’s not fair to him or me to put that expectation on his shoulders. My husband is not a knight and last time I checked he didn’t have any shining armor mixed in with his dirty socks. He is fallen, just like me. He is sin-filled, just like me. He is committed, just like me. And that is where I believe the blessing in my marriage lies. In the commitment. The marriage itself is not the blessing. It’s the commitment to that marriage that holds the bounty. Knowing he will come back and love me again after I’ve nagged him to a nub is much more beautiful than the white dress I wore twice ten years ago that lives a box under my bed. I’d much rather have his shoulder to cry on after a hard day than pretend my life is a big bonbon.
And that is what my husband provides. He is not the end-all, be-all of this life, providing me air to fill my lungs. God is the breath-giver at our house. He is not Ward Cleaver, all brushed and polished and at the ready with a handy life lesson for our little angelic brood. He is raw and loud and messy (Lord, is he messy!). We are certainly not the picture of piety, falling over each other to be the servant. I often wonder if people think we even like one another, with our pithy comments and endless sarcasm! I push him to the fringe of my periphery because I’m too busy and leave him feeling like an extra in my production, hanging onto whatever remnant I throw him at the end of the day. He leaves me with too much of the burden at home and pretends not to notice I’m folding laundry/making dinner/lighting my own skin on fire with my seething anger. We meet nose to nose at our absolute worst (and we are not so cute at our worst!) and wonder what the heck we were thinking marrying this fool. And, then the dust settles. It dies down enough for me to look past his atrocities and see my partner. God gave me this man to love. This man who makes life a little easier, a little more lovely. So easily, we blame. We point. We forget. Then commitment comes swooping in, super hero cape flying. We are reminded of all we have in one another and that together we one heck of a force to be reckoned with. If it weren’t for the commitment, we would move on and miss the blessing.
I look back at my 25 year-old self, all her dreams and hopes riding high on a shiny silver ring slipped onto the finger of a 26-year old man with his own little set of hopes and dreams. If I could whisper to her through the wind of that sunny day on the beach, I think I would say “He will never live up to your expectations. He can’t, so don’t ask it of him. But, he will provide for you the opportunity to love. Be thankful.”
My marriage isn’t a fairy tale. We’ve got a long way to go on this little dusty road. But, it is mine. It is the one God chose, and I am so fortunate to live in the confines of our mutual commitment. Lord knows, there are days I’d like to run him over with my car…repeatedly. And, I’m sure my only saving grace on many days is the fact that he doesn’t want to go to jail for manslaughter. But, we stay. And we love. And we grow. And I am thankful for yet another of God’s graces that I most definitely do not deserve.
Fourteen years since I dove out of a moving car, raced across the parking lot to tackle my best friend with a “haven’t seen you all summer” hug, and wondered “Why is my stomach doing a little flip flop? It’s just Mud.” Now we sing a lot less Marvin Gaye, and I’m fairly sure if we tried to stand on a table and salute The Breakfast Club’s rendition of “Jessie’s Girl” or “Come On Eileen” that one of us would end up with a broken limb. And, I’m pretty sure neither of us would’ve agreed back then that the perfect anniversary gift would be a new dishwasher. I am in awe of what we’ve accomplished together and know, even in our crappiest of crappy moments, we are committed to us. Maybe, one day, I’ll be less obsessive and he’ll be more neat. Maybe, I’ll learn to not hold everything in and he’ll learn the virtue of patience. Maybe not. Either way, we are more Pancho & Lefty than Romeo & Juliet, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy Anniversary, Jon. I love you more than wine & cheese, and that is sayin’ something. Now, Dude, pick up your dirty jeans off my clean floor and stop offering to book my room at the nuthouse early so we can get a discounted rate. Seriously.