as our second anniversary approached, ryan & i kept saying "it feels like we've been married for so much longer!!" and then we laugh and say, "in a good way!!!" truly it does -- i can remember our wedding day like it was yesterday, but we have also packed so much into these first two years of marriage, that it sort of feels like i've always been married to ryan.
this weekend we were driving to charlottesville for my best friend's wedding. it was a momentous trip for many reasons -- mostly because we were going to watch some of our dearest friends tie the knot, but also because this is our last trip before our little girl arrives & because c'ville is such an important place for us. i was thinking about our anniversary, this time last year, and this post i wrote. i knew i needed to write another one, to mark this second year of marriage, and early friday morning, i snuck out of bed, made a cup of tea and settled down to write this post.
*i then didn't feel like the post was quite "ready" and it took me a bit to get back to it, so here goes:
last year, my thoughts on our first year of marriage were around quality & quantity of time, and this year, my thoughts kept going back to our vows. i was thinking about how in that moment we recited our vows two years ago, at that precious church on a crisp november night, it felt like it was just ryan, me and God in that church. though it meant the world to us to get to make those promises in front of the people we love most, that part of the ceremony felt like this incredibly private moment. i forgot anyone else was there.
i once heard a minister say that the really amazing thing about the traditional Christian vows is that they are appointments with yourself in the future. you actually don't say anything about a feeling you have that day -- you aren't telling your husband you love him at that moment, you are telling him you will love him. even if he's sick. even when there's no money. when things are so, so good. when things are most worrisome. it's a commitment to be there, to show up, in two months, in fourteen years, when you're old and grey. i love that and i love the steadiness it gives those vows -- there's no way we can, or should, promise to feel exactly as we did at that moment we made our vows. instead, we know we will need a tremendous amount of grace from one another, that there are a million things we can't begin to predict that will happen as soon as we leave that church, but those vows give us the solid foundation to know our marriage can, and will, endure.
this year has tested each vow, but a few really stand out. at one point during my first trimester, i told a dear friend that ryan & i were living out our "in sickness and in health" vow on an hourly basis. as i spent weeks on end essentially on bed rest, throwing up multiple times of day, unable to get much relief at all -- it turned our world upside down. i couldn't walk into the kitchen, i didn't do a load of laundry for months, i could barely stand to be in the car. we cancelled a vacation, missed weddings and events we'd planned on going to, and hunkered down, unknowing of when things might go back to "normal." i think about the early days of dating and all the modesty, all the desire to be glowing/radiant/put together and then i think about laying on the bathroom floor at 3 a.m., with ryan rubbing my back, and you realize just how important those vows are. no one would sign up willingly for getting a wife through a first trimester like mine -- it was miserable! but ryan didn't sign up at that moment, he had long before then & that makes it much easier, because there's no choice to be made when the rubber hits the road, you already chose to be there. he didn't think twice about swinging by mcdonalds for the fourth time that week to get me fries, the only thing i could keep down. when i would get sick in the middle of the night, he didn't have to decide whether or not to get out of bed and help me, he'd already decided.
does this mean he did everything perfectly? of course not. there were moments when i needed more from him, when he was exhausted by this new reality of ours, when i was inpatient and forgot how to live my own vows, when we both thought it'd be easier not to have to love so selflessly, but our marriage endured, and as i turned the corner at 20 weeks & things got a little more back to normal, i could literally feel our marriage was stronger. as we head into labor/birth and early parenthood, i'm more certain of our bond, i know ryan is exactly who i want by my side & eager to see how that vow is made real once again. i know we'll screw up a lot more. we'll lose our patience. and hurt each other unintentionally. but i also know we both wind up back at those vows we made & a commitment to live them out the best we can.
it seems to me "for better or for worse" is lived out on a daily basis in most marriages -- life is brimming with both really wonderful & really difficult things. the older i get, the more they seem to come in the same breath. you're at a friend's wedding & it's clearly one of the happiest moments of their lives, but the pain of the absence a parent who they lost too young is there too. the job you've always wanted, the one you never thought you'd find happens, and then there's a diagnosis and months of worry ahead. you're celebrating with a glass of champagne, all while checking your phone with concern. i think marriage is about not having to go through that alone -- it's about someone who knows the highs and lows and loves you thru it, and at the very least will sit beside you.
"for richer or for poorer" is clearly relative for all of us (and certainly around the world), but what is says most simply to me that in seasons of life when things change financially, you stick together. we're approaching one of those moments as i stay home with our little girl for some undefined window of time. it's a dramatic change to go from two incomes to one & add a new mouth to feed -- we're also incredibly blessed that it's a choice we have the ability to make, and that's not lost on me at all. what is also means is that as we go back to the drawing board with our budget, think about a college account for our daughter, talk about what this new season will look like, we do so not with "your money" or "my money" but "our family" as the context. what's best for the three of us and how do we live that out in an authentic way, that's consistent with our beliefs? it means we're going to eat out a lot less, but it also means i'm going to have more time to plan meals for us, to try new recipes, to hopefully make our lives that much healthier. it means we're going to think more about certain purchases, not be able to travel as much & have a greater focus on savings, but it also means we'll get more creative -- with date nights, family outings, how we love on the people in our lives. (p.s. every day we wake up knowing our financial security puts us in .001% of the world's population & that is oh so much to be grateful of)
the final vow has to be my favorite -- "to love & to cherish" -- to me, that's about abundance, an overwhelming love. it's about all of us needing someone who is going to wake up wanting to love and cherish us. i remember my mom telling me about a married couple and saying you had the feeling every morning the husband woke up thinking "what can I do to love my wife well today?" what an incredible picture of what marriage can be -- the reality is, not many of us wake up thinking that every morning, even those of us in loving marriages where the idea of that is really appealing. i think if we're honest, it's easier to wake up and think, "boy i need a cup of coffee" or "I've got to go get ready for that presentation" or "if he leaves dirty dishes on that table again, I'm going to lose it" or "wow, great morning breath" :) in our best moments, we're able to look across the table & love/cherish our spouse anew again, no matter the mess in our lives.
my biggest struggle with this post is that i worry it comes off as preachy or like i've got this figured out, neither of which are intended or true. i'm definitely still a newlywed, and even in 50 years doubt i will have even reached the tip of the iceberg about what marriage is about. i'm also aware a lot of this can sound very pollyannaish. i know marriage is really hard. these vows weren't intended to be easy & take a daily recommitment, with lots of grace from one another. my only hope in writing this is to provide some thoughts & a dialogue that all too often doesn't happen. there's so little conversation about marriage, especially among newlyweds, and my hope is this just creates an opportunity to talk about it. i'm so grateful you're here.