The blissful beginnings of marriage are exhilarating, but what happens when they’re gone? That’s when the true beauty begins, and this is how I found it.
Everybody loves a wedding, right? Sharing in two people’s excitement as they pledge their undying love and commitment to each other. Lending your support as they take this big step. Watching the pure joy on their faces as they come together as one.
Yes, everyone loves a wedding.
Except… I haven’t always. And it was that last part that always seemed to touch a sore spot in me as I watched them.
Until I heard some life-changing words at a wedding not very long ago that not only changed my attitude toward weddings but touched the very core of my own marriage.
This is my very real and honest story of the wedding that forever changed the way I look at my marriage.
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Why my issue with weddings? I’m sure a lot of it stems from comparison — oh, that nasty struggle that I seem to come back to time and time again.
But — and this may sound weird and wrong, but it’s the honest truth — watching a couple so completely enraptured by each other, part of me mourned that “new marriage scent” in my own relationship.
I remember when we were dating, and I felt Levon’s adoration so strongly. We were giddy over having found each other. We reveled in each other’s company. We were madly in love.
But after nearly nine years of marriage, two (almost three) kids, and all the ups and downs of everyday life, things have changed.
Not in an alarming way. Our relationship is not precarious by any means, we still love and are devoted to one another, and we’ve worked out a lot of the kinks that plagued us in the very early years.
But… it’s different.
And, as I’ve said many times, marriage after kids is tough. It’s hard to keep that spark alive when so much of your time and energy is consumed by the immediate needs of little people.
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And I would watch these couples gaze adoringly into each other’s eyes, barely able to contain their passion, and it would highlight for me all the ways my marriage had changed.
Actually, let’s call it like it is — it was envy. I was comparing their day in the sun to my life in the trenches and allowing it to sow seeds of discontent in my marriage.
And that was the cycle, wedding after wedding after wedding.
Until this fall, when one minister’s words changed all that.
THE WEDDING THAT CHANGED MY MARRIAGE
This past October, Levon and I were both honored to be part of his brother’s wedding — he was the best man and I was a bridesmaid. (Aidan was also the ring bearer, and he was the cutest ring bearer you’ve ever seen… but I digress.)
And while I was, of course, happy for them and excited to be part of their big day, that pesky little twinge of sadness was also lurking in the dark places of my heart.
As we stood at the altar as witnesses, I prepared to hear the same old thoughts on marriage that one typically hears at weddings. And there were some of those time-tested platitudes and marriage Scriptures that are basically a given in any wedding ceremony.
But then he veered onto a path I didn’t see coming.
WHAT MARRIAGE IS REALLY ALL ABOUT
He began to talk about the years after the wedding — after the honeymoon period has worn off, the butterfly feelings have faded, and real life has set in.
That’s when the true purpose of marriage shines.
Because marriage wasn’t created for ooey gooey feelings. The purpose of marriage isn’t to experience mountain peak moments for the rest of our lives.
No, the true purpose of marriage is to support each other through all of life’s moments. To celebrate together during life’s highs and sustain each other during life’s lows. To be each other’s rock, lifeboat, and cheerleader. And, at times, our sounding board, our voice of reason, and our sharpening iron.
God created marriage to make us stronger, not make us happy (though, hopefully, there’s plenty of that, too!). He created it to help us carry out His plans and fulfill His purposes for our lives. He created it because He knew that together we can do more than we can apart.
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The wedding ceremony is but one day in thousands in a couple’s life. And even the first couple of years are a drop in the bucket compared to the decades to come.
I know too many couples who were (I assume) gloriously happy on their wedding day… but who ultimately lost sight of what their marriage was all about. And when that initial glow faded, they questioned the very marriage itself.
And I don’t want to fall into that trap.
So, while the blissful elation of a couple on their wedding day might always give me a wistful twinge (and a little of that is okay, I think, because it motivates me to keep a spark in our marriage), I no longer envy it.
MY NEW PERSPECTIVE
That day, as the pastor spoke those wise words to my brother-in-law and his new wife, I looked through misty eyes across the aisle at Levon. I thought about how much I love the life we’ve built together and the wonderful partner he is. When he caught me staring, he returned my gaze with a happy smile. And I knew.
I knew that while the giddiness and the butterflies and the novelty of the first year of marriage are exhilaratingly wonderful… this stage we’re in now is better.
I think of the couples I know who have been married 25, 30, 40, or 50+ years, and I realize that right there… that is what I should be looking towards. Not wishing I could go back to the early days, but looking ahead with excitement at the wonderful years yet to come.
Our relationship has definitely changed in the last nine years, but that’s okay. It’s good, actually. Because it has grown and matured. And it is now — after a few rough patches and in the midst of growing our family and supporting each other’s unique life callings — that we are really starting to see the true purpose of our marriage.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg — we still have decades more to go. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet, baby.
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