Three years ago today, I married T-bone. It was a wonderful, crazy day. I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt so emotionally overwhelmed in my life – from the joy of marrying my favourite person in the world; to being awed by the enormity of the commitment that we were about to make; to the incredible amount of love and support that we felt from our family and friends. Neither of us knew how we would react to the ‘Big Day,’ and in the end we were both surprised: I expected to be relatively composed during the ceremony, but instead I spent the duration choking back hysterical laughter and making faces at my bridesmaids. Todd was convinced that he was going to weep throughout the ceremony, and his mother convinced us that he would probably faint (so we sat on kindergarten-sized chairs during the sermon), but he held up like a champ. Our priest forgot the kiss, and before we knew it, we were hitched.
Through a series of interesting decisions, we somehow ended up with an Indian-themed reception, complete with curry, henna, and Indian dancers. We skipped the cake in favour of Indian sweets, and tried to sneakily have our first dance in a corner where no one would notice our complete lack of coordination. And then it was all over.
No matter what the bridal magazines and websites say, my wedding wasn’t the best day of my life. It was too crazy/funny/intense/public for that. Marrying Todd was, however, the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. In a sense, we had no idea what we were getting into – I don’t think anyone really does. You can work on your relationship, and spend loads of time together, and ask your friends/parents/newspaper columns for advice, but you can’t truly predict what it will be like until you’re in it. I want to share two of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my three short years of marriage.
1. Marriage really is hard
Before I got married, I had often heard that “marriage is hard.” I didn’t really understand what this meant, but I knew that I didn’t want a ‘hard’ marriage. And so far, our marriage hasn’t been difficult on a surface level – we don’t fight much, we still genuinely like each other, and we are both happy with the direction that our combined life is heading.
On another level, though, marriage is hard by definition, and ours is no different. It’s hard because it inevitably exposes the person you truly are, when all social niceties and coping mechanisms are removed. It exposes your selfishness and pettiness and complexes. This is partly due to your sheer proximity to another person – it’s difficult to hide when you live in a small apartment – and partly because you have committed yourself “for better or for worse.” In marriage, you really do see the best and the worst.
Marriage is about dying to yourself. Not your personality, or your gifts, or your interests, but to your ego and your pride. It’s choosing to consider someone else’s needs and wants when you’d really rather focus on yourself. I can’t lie – I’m really bad at this. I probably always was, but marriage has exposed it in a way that nothing else in my life ever has. And yet, I’m aware that marriage keeps calling me to try again, and to believe that I can learn and change.
2. Marriage is about love
This is at once obvious and profound. Our culture tends to fixate on the romantic element of love: it’s all about chemistry, and finding your soul mate, and *ahem* procreative activities. These are all important elements of love, but they aren’t the whole picture. There is also the quieter, less glamorous kind of love, the love that stems out of marriage’s hardness. The kind of love that chooses to embrace the other person even when their flaws and selfishness are exposed. It takes courage to give this kind of love, and perhaps even more to receive it.
I’ve also been surprised by how much Todd’s love for me and my experience of God’s love for me are intertwined, just as my love for Todd and my love for God are. I used to worry that loving Todd would mean that I loved God less, or that I would somehow have competing affections. What I’ve discovered is that Todd’s love and grace towards me are a tangible reminder of God’s incredible love and grace towards me. It doesn’t replace or usurp it – rather, it helps me to better comprehend it. And learning to love Todd in spite of both of our weaknesses and flaws offers a small glimmer of the great counterintuitive, mysterious love that made a perfect man sacrifice himself for imperfect humanity.
And so I have fond memories of our wedding, and I’m sure we’ll spend time reminiscing about that day. But more than that, I want to spend our anniversary being grateful for the gift of marriage, and asking God for increasing love and grace as we continue on this journey.