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Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 8.50.57 AMMarriage should never be boring … right?

So, I recently learned something about my hubby of nearly twenty-nine years, and it all started with an invite to a shower (no, not a bridal shower … the one in the bathroom) … is that too much information? Probably … oh well …

So, he was heading to the shower and I said, quite innocently, “can I pop in too?”

His response was … typical (I am NOT going to define that), followed by a shocking comment, “as long as you don’t wear that shower cap”.

Truly the floor fell out from beneath my feet.

I mean I had just gotten it (new house, new shower cap) and it was so nice to replace the one with the broken elastic that could easily have been replaced with a Ziplock freezer bag, with better results.

What followed was a hysterical conversation about how … uninspiring my (pretty) (new) (practical) shower cap was, in his eyes.

This was a breath-of-fresh air, humorous sharing that felt so good … so … not serious.

Sometimes marriage can become all about the decisions, the hard stuff, the heart-breaking stuff, the mundane stuff. Sometimes marriage just needs laughter that is inspired by something unimportant and silly. Sometimes marriage just needs giggles about something that no one else would understand. That laughter is from a place that is deeper and more intimate than any other words or act.

“Live happily with the woman (man) you love
through all the meaningless days of life
that God has given you under the sun.
The wife (hubby) God gives you
is your reward for all your earthly toil.”
Ecclesiastes 9:9

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Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.36.09 AMOne would have to have been living under a rock to have not been aware of the royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle yesterday.

There was pomp and circumstance, movers and shakers in many arenas, delightful children being … children, spectacular music and decor, the exchange of rings and vows and even a rather evangelistic message of love and redemption.

The vows that were made were simple, traditional and sombre (serious). There were vows spoken by many before them, from the most prosperous to the lowest pauper. Perhaps that universality is what makes them as significant as the promises themselves, for the effort to keep such vows is as daunting for all, no matter their circumstance.

A vow is many things. It is a promise, but more than that it is a pledge, a commitment, a dedication, a pledge … a guarantee. When one makes such a vow, as one at a wedding, one is saying,

I will see this happens, until death.

Vows are not necessarily a mandatory custom of marriages all over the world. Nor are they legally binding. So, why say them?

Tradition is probably the main reason that many people still respond to or repeat in their wedding ceremonies. Yet, is that all that wedding vows are for those who repeat or speak them?

In the Bible, vows were addressed, by Moses,

“This is what the Lord commands:
When a man makes a vow to the Lord
or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge,
he must not break his word
but must do everything he said.”
Numbers 30:1-2

This message from God reminds us that the words we speak, whether to God or another promise or pledge, is a serious commitment, and must be honoured. Truly we could say that this scripture is the same message as the phrase, my word is my bond, which is “used to indicate that one will always do what one has promised to do” (Mirriam-Webster).

Our vows, spoken in a wedding ceremony, are not just words of tradition, but words of the will. We rise each day willing ourselves to fulfil them, in honour of our word.

May God grant Harry and Meghan, may God grant us all, strength and will to do what has been said … as long as they, as shall live.

 

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Despite the fact that, when asked, I almost never know how many years hubby and I have been married (it’s twenty-eight today), I never forget how very much I felt that I loved him on that day … oh, and I still do 😘.

But anyone who has been married long enough to have had a disagreement, an all-out fight, knows that they had no idea what love was on their wedding day. For love is not a once-for-all feeling, but a gradual, ever-evolving metamorphis.

This past summer I watched a video that reminded me how very little real love was involved in the early days of our marriage. As a matter-of-fact, I would say we really only found, in each other, someone who would meet our needs.

In this video Rabbi Dr. (psychiatrist, professor, author) Abraham Twerski introduced me to the concept of Fish Love. Fish love is described as how one might say they love fish, when what they mean is that they love to eat fish, because fish tastes good to them, and it satisfies their appetite. The fish meets their needs.

Twerski said,

“True love is a love of giving, not a love of receiving.”

When we were first married the knowledge and feelings of love were greatly defined by what we received from the other. He filled my cup of needs, wants and desires, and I filled his. In a sense it might be hard to tell where the love originated … was it in the giving or in the receiving? One can feed the other, and in the early years of marriage the give and take is constant.

But, as the years go on it is not so constant, and the cups empty.

It is then that one realizes that fish love doesn’t last. For it is in the selfless, sacrificial giving to each other, even when we aren’t sure that our giving will be recripricated, that we know that we love and are loved by the other.

Ephesians 5:1-2 continues this theme of giving and sacrificial love …

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a grant offering and sacrifice to God.”

There is to our twenty-eight years, and counting, of learning to love beyond fish love, hubby. Let me take you out for dinner … but maybe not seafood.


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spirit

The vehicle was filled with the sounds of a baseball game. Barely a word spoken for dozens of miles. Contentment filled my heart, my soul.

I remembered hearing my grandmother say that a good marriage is one where a couple can drive in a car for miles and the silence be comfortable.

Numerous times over previous years, driving in the same direction, on the same highway, with the same baseball team playing on the radio, barely a word spoken for dozens of miles …

but my heart was filled with the emptiness of discontent.

The silence so uncomfortable.

The seasons in a marriage, like the seasons in the northern hemisphere, can be such a contrast, one from another. The sunny summer days can seem like endless picnics, cookouts and sweet days at the beach.

But the storms of winter can rage, blowing out electricity, and snowing you in, torrential rains causing permanent water damage.

I remember one such winters day in our marriage when we drove this very route, and I had prayed (with little investment of hope) for a miracle for our marriage. Truly it was a last ditch, faith-lacking prayer.

We had reached the point that, though we did still love each other (in a covenant-commitment manner of love), neither one of us liked or had affection for each other.

Why would I share such weakness, such imperfection?

Because I believe that heartache and suffering just have to have purpose outside of personal growth. If telling our story resonates in the heart and experience of another who is trying to protect themselves from the wintery blizzards of marriage, then I can look back and be thankful in all circumstances.

This is marriage … real marriage. Though we go to the alter and make promises in clean, perfectly altered attire, we live in the sandbox of reality. It’s not clean, or pretty, nor does it always fit. We all have these winters in our marriages … not one is perfect, not one is a bed of summery roses every day.

As we, wordlessly, comfortably drove that same highway, one night this summer, I felt the gentle, fresh breeze of summer evening coming into the windows of our car.

Suddenly, I realized that the comfortable silence we were surrounded by was the miracle of my hope-lacking prayer of years past …

when the season was not so gentle to our relationship, and we were not so gentle to each other.

The hopeless had been reborn, redeemed through the groaning of the Spirit, when we were weak, and did not know (feel) in our hearts that hope that was available.

hope that is seen is no hope at all.
Who hopes for what they already have?

But if we hope for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
through wordless groans.”
Romans 8:24-26

(Image above Lawton Wilson)

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I looked at my dirty toilet, Wednesday morning, and thought to myself,

“I’d really rather stay home and clean my house than go away with hubby for a couple of nights.”

What woman thinks these thoughts?

The school year had come to an end, and hubby had planned a little mini get away for just us two, and I wanted to stay home and clean toilets? I do need a vacation!

Now that we are home from our two night get-away, I truly do not know that woman who stared longingly into her dirty toilet bowl.

I am so thankful for those days with that man.

We talked, we walked in silence, we sat at the beach, we relaxed in the hot springs pool, we laughed, we dreamed, we discussed, we enjoyed good food, and were totally spoiled at a couples massage.

Twenty-eight years ago, yesterday, this man asked me to marry him (after I told him we were done … that is another story, for another day).

We didn’t take much time to get to know each other before walking an aisle, repeating vows and sealing it with a kiss.

Our marriage has been:

good … and bad,
romantic … and boring,
united … and divided,
healthy … and so very unhealthy,
committed … and should have been committed … to a psychiatric facility.

The effects of the demands of jobs, children, home maintenance, financial stresses, mutual disappointments, disagreements and drudgery have made for a number of … right sided (see the list on the right, above) marital experiences over the years.

But in moments like we just had, away just us two, are more cleansing and rewarding than the mundane of cleaning a house.

This time remind us that it was love, attraction, and joy in each other that started this wild and crazy life journey together.

The youngest of our three just graduated high school, this is a transition time for us. How lovely to start this new phase, together, away … with not a care in the world … not even dirty toilets.

“My beloved said to me,
“Get up, my true love, my beautiful one,
and come with me.”
Song of Solomon 2:10

the lake

 

 

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My Sunday evening was interrupted by Twitter:

“a beautiful speech shows great character in a man”

“Attractive, smart & so generous to his partner”

“was beautiful to acknowledge the sacrifice of others to follow your dream”

“Hey girl” has been officially replaced with “my lady”

 

I was hooked, and had to uncover why social media was so enamoured with the acceptance speech of Ryan Gosling at the Golden Globe awards.

“You don’t get to be up here without standing on the shoulders of a mountain of people … while I was singing and dancing and playing piano and having one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, on a film, my lady was raising our daughter, pregnant with our second and trying to help her brother fight his battle with cancer. If she hadn’t taken all that on so that I could have this experience, it would surely be someone else up here, other than me, today, so, sweetheart, thank-you.”

sigh …

swoon …

Then I pondered, what was really so exceptional about the words of Mr. Gosling? After all, all he did was acknowledge that his success was not his alone, but thanks to the efforts and commitment of his wife, to him, his success, their children, and her brother.

Isn’t what he did, what should be expected of us all?

romans-129-10

Perhaps, his words, his public deflection of his success being from his own merits, is exceptional because celebrities rarely stoop to such humility?

Or, perhaps, his words, deflecting his own honour, by honouring his partner in life, is exceptional because we humans, as a whole, rarely stoop to such humility?

Our world is one of individual goals, devices, efforts and successes. But our human race is created for community, mutuality, and inter-dependence. We need each other.

We need to honour each other, and our reliance on those around us, in all that we do.

This is not exceptional (or shouldn’t be), it’s expected of us all.

 

 

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wedding-banner-page11

Holding on to the arm of a handsome man, she took her first step through the doors of the sanctuary, smiling from ear to ear, and every eye was on her. Her dress fell to the floor, and she moved down the aisle with ease and with a playful joy in her steps. She glowed from the inside out.

For the first time in my life, it was she, the mother-of-the-bride, to whom I could most closely feel a connection.

And NO, my daughters are not getting married!

The rest of the wedding and reception festivities continued, but those steps down the aisle, by the bride’s mom, were what captivated my the most. Not only did they captivate me, but I felt a kinship with this mom.

With our youngest in his final year of high school, and our daughters in the post secondary educational stage and beyond, I am closer to the mom stage than the bride stage.

As this mom was making her way down the aisle, I wondered if the marriage was everything that she had wanted for her daughter? Was the groom the man she had hoped to steal her girly’s heart? Was her daughter in the ‘right’ place in life to be making such promises?

Then I realized what this marriage was …

imperfect and messy and beautiful,

no doubt, just like that mom’s, just like my own.

The dreams I have for my children are good dreams, well intended hopes, desires that come from the heart of one whose heartbeat was the first music in my children’s ears.

But, one day, they may choose to marry, and it will be their dreams, their hopes and their desires that will send me walking down an aisle … not mine.

This is not to say that I cease to pray for the greater things for them … that they marry one who loves God, that they unite with one who will share all of life with them, that they choose a partner who will encourage them to grow and live better (as iron sharpens iron), but I acknowledge that, like their parents before them, they will make that choice.

And it will be imperfect, and messy, and beautiful.

“For this reason, a man (a daughter) will leave their mother and father …”
(Mark 10:7)

 

 

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