“When did you get married?”
It seems like an easy enough question, doesn’t it?
It’s a question I ask with regularity, but it’s the question that trips people up more than anything else.
I work with people from a lot of different cultures. When I ask them about their marriage date, they think for a bit. Some call their spouses to confer. Others tentatively give me a date and qualify it with “…I think.” Surprisingly few rattle off a date with confidence.
I’ve learned that this is due to a number of reasons. In some cultures, the wedding date isn’t the important date; the engagement is much more momentous. In others, anniversaries aren’t nearly the significant events they are here. Still others have difficulty translating their wedding dates into our calendar – or even just into our language.
Regardless, it got me thinking…how important is that date, really?
It’s not an original observation that as a culture we tend to plan for the wedding and not the marriage. And as the fairytale turns into reality we can choose to either be disillusioned or realize that the fairytale we get to write ourselves can be even better. But that doesn’t happen overnight.
At the end of the week we’ll celebrate 9 years on this marriage journey. We’ve had good years, great years, and one really crappy year. We’re thankful that this past year has been a great one – probably the best one yet.
Beside our bed is Devotions for a Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. My favorite passage that illustrates the beauty and value of the seasons of marriage is this:
A 1996 study in Social Psychology Quarterly found that the happiness of most couples declines somewhat for the first twenty years of marriage, but those who make it to their thirty-fifth anniversary find themselves as happy with each other as they felt when they were newlyweds. Why is this so? Romance in the early years of marriage quickly gets assaulted by unmet expectations, the duties of child rearing, financial concerns, and the busyness of life. But during that emotional winter, unseen roots sink deep into the ground, ready to produce a fruit that a new but untested love can never match. A certain intimacy begins to develop, provided we don’t kill it with divorce. ~pg. 20
The wedding is significant – it’s a celebration, a commitment, and the beginning of the covenant. But what comes after is what’s really important. The good years are a blessing, but the difficult years are also a gift. They’re the gifts that are growing those deep, strong roots.
So yes, our anniversary is important. But it’s not important so we can just mark another year off on the calendar and remember the day we got married. Rather, it’s important so we can honor our time together, where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and look forward to our continued journey.
And, of course, celebrate those roots we’re working on.