I remember very clearly the day one of my best college girlfriends made the statement to me that everyone always knew Gregg and I would end up together forever, married into our happily ever after. She said this to me during the fun and frenzy of my engagement/wedding planning phase. Her comment ended with, “You two are just meant to be – we all see you as the fairy tale love story.” It was, perhaps, one of the cutest things anyone has ever said to me, and it’s stuck with me over the years. Mostly because, as sweet as the sentiment is, it’s the least realistic description I can think of to describe our marriage, or any marriage, really. I don’t know about you, but there are too many occasions where I feel more like the dragon than the princess; the prince can’t manage to put his underwear in the hamper; and I look around my messy house, thinking, “Why don’t these dishes sing, dance and wash themselves?”
This week, we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, and I’d like to share a little wisdom concerning what I’ve learned about what happens in the days and years that come after you ride off into the sunset.
The sun comes up: Every day. The sun comes up, reality sets in, and the mundane necessities of every day occur with relentless regularity. It’s not all fun and games, my friends. Bills have to be paid, houses get dirty and require repair, sports and school schedules get out of hand, dinner doesn’t make itself, toilets overflow, church and social commitments encroach on family time, energy and attention get spread thin….. There is an undeniable need for teamwork and unity of purpose from the onset, or the intractable list of everyday demands will beat you down without mercy.
Friends are friends forever: Roses are red. Violets are blue. Looks will fade, and lust will, too. Happily ever after depends on more than a handsome face getting with a gorgeous silhouette. Let’s face it, we were all cuties in our teens and twenties – before children and overworked schedules and sleep deprivation and laugh lines and constant stress and responsibility…..you get the picture. On my wedding day, had I known that at this point in my life my dress size would be markedly different, that I’d never dream of wearing a backless number after three kids, that stretch marks aren’t just an urban legend, that Botox doesn’t sound half bad……I would have been horrified. And yet, in spite of my shallow naiveté, I made a wiser choice than I knew, because I married my best friend. To this day, he makes me laugh harder than anyone. His opinion matters more than any other. I’d rather hang out with him than all my other friends (and I have amazing friends).
Whistle while you work: Being married is no cakewalk. It’s work, pure and simple. Living with another person, especially one who you are supposed to cherish and hold dear and put above yourself (and everyone else) takes effort on a good day, Samson-esque strength on a bad one. The decision to continue this undertaking has to be revamped on a regular basis. It’s a workout, for sure, one we need to commit to and execute with a joyful and willing heart. Because anything of value is worth fighting for. And our most important human relationship deserves our finest striving.
A spoonful of sugar helps everything: Yes, life gets lackluster. Yes, we need to toil and dedicate and persevere. Great. Check. Don’t forget the reason things kicked off in the first place. Gregg may have a few more laugh lines these days, but he’s still my Prince Charming. His kiss still gives me butterflies, and my favorite place to be is in his arms. I’m losing a gravity battle or two myself, but he still manages to tell me how beautiful and special I am on a regular basis. It brings a smile to my face every time. Sound cheesy? Good. It should. Life hasn’t killed the romance. It isn’t supposed to. Bring on the smooches. It’s what got us started, you know.
The greatest of these is love: It all comes down to this. Love. True love. It’s the end all, be all, conquers all entity we seek. It’s the key to eternity and the reason for salvation. It’s the basis of our existence and the pinnacle of Creation. It’s a promise, forever and always. God created it, became it, and gifted it to us. His plan is for us to enjoy it, and live a life where we experience love to the fullest in all of our relationships, marriage being at the top of the list.
When I met my soul mate 22 years ago, I had no idea what I was in for. I had no idea what this tall, dark and handsome guy with dimples would do to my life. The messy lessons we learned together would shape me as a person, and grow us together in ways we could never imagine. I had no idea I was in for the ride of my life, and that when he promised me I would never be bored he meant it even more than he knew.
Because, what we didn’t realize, at least not fully, was that when we said “I do”, it was to more than just a status change and fairy tale beginning. When we spoke our vows and those fateful words, we embarked on the most sacred adventure of them all. Fifteen years and three children later, we sometimes sit in amazement and ask each other, “How did we get here? When did this happen?” All joking about getting older aside, it’s pretty amazing, to be honest. We made a family – a beautiful, crazy, energetic, loving family. It’s a gift, and a responsibility. It’s a reason to look beyond the immediate, and to forgive the slights, forget the exhaustion and focus on the riches at hand. When we do this and do it well, we get a glimpse of God’s plan. We get to live in our eternity today, and to walk in light on the path to truth. We get rewarded – with strength, with laughter, with peace and deep-seated joy.
In the timeless lyrics of the Hokey Pokey: “That’s what it’s all about.”
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