In honor of my cousin Jason's marriage this Saturday to his beautiful bride Sheilla (pronounced 'Sheeya'), I decided to write about weddings and marriage. Since I have been married for 10 years, I should know a little something about the subject, but I will tell you that I learn more every single day. One thing I have certainly learned is that weddings are easy; marriage is the hard part.
Like most girls, I dreamt of my wedding all my life. I always knew I would have a traditional church wedding with a dinner reception and dance to follow. I knew I would wear an ornate white wedding gown with a train and matching head piece with a veil. I knew I would have several of my closest girlfriends as bridesmaids and I knew my groom would be handsome and successful and we would look fabulous together. So when, after four years of dating, my then-boyfriend Brent proposed to me in front of my family one June day in 1999, my body went almost immediately into planning mode. What date should we choose? What venues were available? Should we have an engagement party? How much should we spend on a photographer? The list went on, and after a little over a year of planning, the big day came. No matter how much time you spend on details, you're never really prepared for the range of emotions that hit you that day. I was nervous about pulling everything off without a hitch, worried that I would forget something important, sad that certain family members couldn't be there but knew they were smiling on us from heaven, and excited for all the festivities that come with a wedding. I cried whenever someone told me how beautiful I looked and I laughed when us ladies all did shots of liquor in the dressing room at the church, knowing fully well we were breaking the #1 rule that the pastor had set before us.
However, rather than focusing on every detail of the wedding, what I should've been focusing on is the new life that I was beginning with this man who would be my husband, partner, lifelong friend, confidant and father to my children. The wedding lasts a day. Marriage is meant to last forever.
Our wedding day was a lot of fun and most things did go off without a hitch (save for the air conditioning going out in the reception location on a 90+ degree day), but the thing I remember most was the sweet things Brent whispered in my ear when we were dancing as husband and wife. I was sad when the day ended and I had to take off my dress, take down my perfect pin curls in my hair, and take off the makeup that was put on so carefully that morning, because I knew I would never look that beautiful again. But I was also looking forward to all the things that the future would hold for us.
Fast forward 10 years and so much has happened since that whirlwind of a day. We've had dozens of job changes between the two of us, as we've strived to climb the corporate ladder in our respective industries. We got a dog (our first baby) as a companion and a way to practice for having human babies. We suffered two miscarriages and a lot of frustration, but went on to have three beautiful children. Through it all, we've had fights, some of them nasty and hurtful, we've insulted each other and distrusted each other's intentions. We've struggled with the inability to communicate our feelings to each other and we've blamed, ignored, and even threatened divorce.
But what we've also done is made up, forgave, talked through issues, compromised, apologized, cried, hugged, made new promises, and put a lot of effort into staying together as a family. Like I said in the beginning, marriage is the hard part. But it can also be so rewarding. When I think about the fact that I've been with this person for 15 years, and 10 of them in marriage, I realize that we're not doing so badly. We make a lot of mistakes, but something we're doing is working for us. I know that we love each other, but love can only get you so far. The pastor who married us said that a marriage cannot be founded on love and compatibility. It has to be founded on commitment. Life hands us many trials and obstacles, but if we are committed, marriage can be the absolute blessing God intended it to be. And, like so many pastors I know, he knew his stuff.
God bless all the married couples out there, and the couples who are about to make that commitment. Guard your marriage with all that you have and, as my uncle Kent said, "Put God at the center of your relationship and your marriage will never fail."