This week Russell and I attended a couple of events celebrating marriage. The first was the wedding of a sweet young couple, Alex and Stephen. A few days later we attended a vowel renewal for one of my good friends from work, Misha and her husband, Rod in honor of
their 10th anniversary. It was a week of love in the middle of November! I think that is very appropriate for the Thanksgiving month.
I am a fool for a wedding. Russell and I are friends of Alex and friends of Stephen’s mother, Sue so it was especially meaningful for us to see this lovely couple unite in marriage in front of the friends and family who love them. I ALWAYS cry. I start tearing up during the music before anyone even starts walking down the aisle. I love the idea of a wedding. The love of two people who have found each other, the hope, the dreams, the commitment to stand by one another through good and bad, going bravely together into the future. It is inspiring especially after thirty-three years of marriage.
I remember the day Russell and I got married. I was not feeling too inspired.
Russell will be the first to tell you I was scared to death. I was a young, nineteen year old college student. My family, especially my mom, was not too happy that we were making this leap. Frankly, I was not sure if I was very happy about it either. We had dated just nine months. Russell who had interned at a law firm here in Houston for the second half of the summer, called to ask me out in July of 1982. I had met Russell a couple of years before, but I did not know him well. What I did know I did not particularly like. I really went out with him to teach an old boyfriend a lesson after the boyfriend had given Russell my phone number. That is another story for another day, but somehow despite that I fell in love hard and quickly. By Labor Day we were engaged. Yet, as the wedding, which was scheduled for May of 1983 drew closer I became more and more panicked about the decision. I knew I loved him very much, but marriage was for forever. That was a daunting thought for a nineteen-year old girl. Everyone from my high school friends to my sorority sisters to my mom told me I was way too young to make such a momentous decision.
They were all right, we were too young, but by God’s grace we made it work. I’ve heard people say marriage is hard. I think that is right, but it’s not always hard. Sometimes it is awesome. I always give this advice to young people who are engaged including my daughter before she married Patrick: People will tell you will that you will have good days and bad days in marriage, but the truth is you will have good years and bad years. As the years go on the bad is less about your relationship and more about what is going on around you. The relationship strengthens you as you handle the tough times. Understanding this and knowing that if you hang in there and work together the good will return, should help bolster you through the bad years.
This weekend we attended my friend, Misha’s vowel renewal to her husband of ten years.
The party was so much fun and hearing them both recommit to their marriage was beautiful. Russell and I were asked to play in the “Not So Newly Wed” Game. Even though we had been married longer than any of the other “contestants” we came in last place! I hope that is not a comment on our future staying power. The night was lovely though and like the weekend before, full of love and laughter. Yet they are experienced in marriage now. Watching them together, hearing Misha talk about Rod at work and understanding what a team they are, tells me they have already discovered the important lessons of marriage.
I think the first ten years of marriage are usually the hardest. During those years you really
test those vows. When I got married I promised to Russell before God and my family and friends, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part…” That is a mouthful for a young woman, and words I really did not completely understand until later. In our early days we tested the “poorer” part, the “worse” part and the “sicker” part a lot. Sometimes there was not a lot of “cherishing” going on either.
I can remember being a stay at home mom trying to finish college with a newborn. We were so poor that I had to use my Chevron credit card to buy milk and bologna (the only protein available) at the convenience store down the street from my house on several occasions because we had no money in our checking account and our credit cards were maxed out from the hospital bills we had after our daughter spent the first 11 days of her life in the NICU. Trust me when I say we often did not offer each other a lot of grace on many occasions, but we literally fought our way through this. We learned together the importance of working together, communicating – at times loudly – and most importantly about giving and receiving grace.
When we were getting married there was a cultural debate going on about the word “obey”
being included in the marriage vows of the bride. For centuries women had promised to obey their husbands while that word was excluded from the husband’s vows. This blogger is certainly not overlooking the lopsided nature of this, nor is she calling for the return of “obey” to the vows, nor seeking to reopen that debate, but what she does know is that any good marriage does not exist without both husband and wife submitting to one another. Marriage like any good partnership is about looking out for the good of the group over the good of self and sometimes, often times that means giving up personal desires at least for a time for the good of the marriage. For those reading this who are not married, you may think that sounds awful, but in the bigger picture of marriage and of love it is really wonderful and brings great joy to those who practice it.
I believe strongly in grace. I believe I am in need of grace every day and that I have to give grace to others because we as humans are not perfect – far from perfect. I believe the marriage relationship brings out all those imperfections in us. It is a microcosm of a study of a world in need of grace. Grace not only given, but often received from the one you love, the one who loves you. The “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part” is the vow we say to promise that grace to each other until the end of life. For my young friends, Alex and Stephen, who married each other last weekend in a ceremony full of love and hope, I promise to you if you exercise this grace with each other, cherish, submit, defer, support and love in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better and worse until death you do part, your life will be richer, more hopeful and full of love. For Misha and Rod, you are well on your way and know this to be true, as Russell and I, who have been in this just a bit longer, know too well. Congratulations to all my friends. May your love grow and your happiness and joy endure. XXOO
Please share your marriage and wedding stories with me in the comment section below. If you enjoy reading my blog please follow my page.