I went into marriage with eyes wide open. I knew myself too well to believe that to share life intimately with another would be a sunset ride into happily ever after. I loved and respected Dan, but I knew his struggles, his weakness. And he knew mine.
To most, ours was a story of almost perfect; couple meeting, falling in love, and getting married. Few knew the inward churning of the decision to join our lives. Because once we said those carefully worded vows, we were in this for life. Til death do us part.
And so in those months prior to our wedding, we got to the heart of preparing for our marriage. And we talked, we disagreed until we could agree. Or at least agree that it didn’t matter. And as we decided on our vows, we knew that we couldn’t keep them. We’d already proven that. So we inserted a caveat. It’s pretty popular these days anyways. I’ve even heard vows made to the tune of “as long as I shall love you.”
My sister asked me if I was sure of what I was doing because I didn’t seem as happy and in love as she expected. I was surprised because I really was so in love and I really was very excited. I could hardly wait for the day to fully give myself in life, love and oneness to Dan. But, somehow even though I didn’t understand fully, I knew there was a tough aspect to the depth of oneness.
In the weeks, months and years that followed our marriage, it felt to me a little like the honeymoon was endless. Almost as if my marriage trepidation had been unfounded. Of course we had our disagreements, our troubles, and our hurts. Life didn’t glow rosy but always there was a strength in our connection to each other that held us.
But then the onslaught of life became a little more forceful than before. Our inward wounds began to ache louder. Our nights became a little less sleep filled. Our time together a little more limited. The outside battered a little harder. And our weaker links became more stressed. There came times when I felt as if I had forgotten that I liked my husband let alone loved him. And in the heart weary moments, wanting out seemed so much easier than staying in.
I mentioned our caveat. It wasn’t “as long as I shall love you.”, because in the face of what I just shared, you can guess the outcome. After each and every promise that we made to each other, we invited the Spirit living within to work out those vows in us. We took the words “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
In some ways, I wish I could proudly say that I have and that Dan has kept each vow made. But the truth is we haven’t. Oh, we’ve not broken any in a public sort of disgraceful way. But we’ve broken them in the failure to love the other, to cherish and honor the other, to serve the other; in an ashamed to face and heartbroken sort of way. Those vows that we wrote together and pledged to each other? We’ve broken them. We’ve damaged the other that we gave our most heart-given promises to. And yet that third strand, that caveat never did. Never broke, never misused, never turned away.
I don’t say that lightly. I don’t discount our failure. I don’t brush aside trust broken or hurt given. I don’t trivialize the beating that any marriage takes. Yet that cord of Spirit weaves itself through our lives together, our marriage. It holds us when our broken fibers hang limp. That third cord weaves our pieces back together.
We haven’t ridden off into the sunset nor found the happily ever after but we continue to grow together in the living of our vows. We are becoming kindred.