Fairy tales, romantic comedies, they are all about the story of how the couple comes to fall in love, the trials they face during their relationship, and how they eventually decide that they want to be together. At least in the past these stories and movies have ended with a couple getting married, but too often today they just end with the couple hopping into bed together. Then the picture comes to a close and we are supposed to assume that they have lived happily ever after.
I think that is why we have this attitude that the wedding day is the finish line, the goal. When I was engaged a friend of more told another friend of mine, right in front of me, that at least she still had her "surprise to look forward to"... as if once you know who you are marrying then that is just it for you. No surprises for the married woman.
I was surprised just yesterday. My husband wanted to get my anniversary present a day early and decided to tease his impatient wife by leaving clues and making phone calls saying, "Guess where I am now. I'm in _____ area of Boston. Do you know what stores are there." And, because he knows me, he knew that I would fly to my computer and look up all the stores in that area. By the time he got home I was bouncing off the wall and he had me cover my eyes while he got my present ready. When I opened them he was holding the box that had held my engagement ring and when I opened it there was a ring with my birth stone, which because it is pink also symbolizes the two daughters that I have given him in these five years.
The story of how Kyle and I met and fell in love is a good one. The story of how we grow that love is even better. To say "and they all lived happily ever after" would be to do away with the best part of the story. It's watching Star Wars episodes 1-3 and leaving out the original 4-6.
If you want a good story, something that happens after marriage, let me tell you about the time I found out that I was pregnant with Madeleine. I could write a five part series about that too. Or when I gave birth and saw her little face for the first time and realized how much I loved her. Maybe I could write about when I found out I was pregnant with Juliette and I almost passed out in a Jack in the Box parking lot. Or the little surprises in life, they make great tales too. I could talk about when Kyle brings me home flowers after he knows I have had a hard day. Or when my kids said their first words, took their first steps, the first time Kyle actually managed to put his laundry away.
"They" tell you that planning a wedding is like a marathon, but honestly, it doesn't need to be. Relax and focus your energy into making sure that you are as strong as possible as a couple because LIFE, what happens after the wedding day, makes planning a wedding seem like a leisurly stroll. Life moves fast and you'll want to freeze time and hold onto those moments you will never get back, the days that it's just "you" before kids come, the days you only have one kid to chase after, because the future seems daunting and uncertain. But then your first child is born, the second and you wonder what you were so scared about. It keeps getting better. Why did you ever want to stop time in the first place?
Then, eventually, you learn to sit back and enjoy it because, yes there is stress but there is far more love and joy and if you are blinded by your fears and your ambitions then you won't be able to see the beauty of God's plan unfolding before you.
A real love story looks and sounds like a newlywed's first fight, staying up until three in the morning to talk just because they can, the first time the wife buys plane tickets under her new last name, being gathered around a stick you just peed on to see how many lines are there, calling family to share the good news, the newborn's first screams, the insescant talking of the toddler, the school bus, the sound of the dishwasher running all day every day, finding an old apple inside the play kitchen, the first time your child is rejected and you consider beating up whoever hurt them, being concerned about money, buying a house, losing a job, illness, finding out if the puddle on the carpet is pee or water, finally finding a baby sitter so you can go out, and way too many pictures uploaded on facebook... and those are only the early years. There is still so much more to come.
Five years later I am happier and my life is filled with more love than I ever imagined. There have been struggles along the way before, loss, sickness, and our vows have endured it with the bond between us growing stronger. We know each other better, have learned how to help each other better, understand each other, and give the other person what they need and not what we think they need. We've learned to communicate better. We've gone on some amazing adventures together, birthed two children and lost one other. We have lived an amazing life and it's only been five years.
So what is it to this thought that marriage is the end of the road, that once you get married you are stuck and boring and bored? I honestly have no idea. I haven't had a chance to accomplish and experience even a fourth of what my parents have in their 31 years of marriage but seeing them, the joy of their children getting married and having their grandchildren, I know that there is still so much more to come and none of it would have been possible if five years ago today I hadn't said, "I do."
Kyle, thank you for understanding me and taking the time to look beyond the walls I put up to see the person underneath. Thank you for finding me interesting and listening to my stories. Thank you for putting a ring on it. Thank you for putting another ring on it five years ago today. Thank you for the incredible honeymoon. Thank you for staying at my bedside and praying with me the night we lost our child, for being there when I woke up, for taking care of me in the months that followed with you endless patience. Thank you for moving up to Massachusetts and for being as protective of
my sisters as you are of yours. Thank you for always taking my side in
public but for talking me down in private and challenging me to grow. Thank you for protecting me from angry secretary lady. Thank you for your joy when we found out that Madeleine was on the way and for cleaning up the floor that time I puked all over it. Thank you for flying out to California when I found out I was pregnat with Juliette to help me on my flights because I felt sick. Thank you for going to McDonald's at midnight that time I was craving chicken. Thank you for being there at both births and just backing off so I could do my thing. Thank you for touching our girls after they came out even though they looked super gross. Thank you for helping me on the late nights. Thank you for working long hours. Thank you for coming home and still playing with the girls and doing the dinner dishes and not just expecting me to serve you because I "stay home all day" but respecting that my job is hard too. Thank you for always telling me what a great job you think I am doing and not picking apart the little things. Thank you for being such an amazing daddy to our girls and not complaining because you want boys. Thank you for being open to life. Thank you for always encouraging me in my faith and for your strong example. Thank you for being the head of our family so I can live in my role as the heart. Thank you for always stepping up, even if it means talking to the people shouting outside our girl's window at midnight. Thank you for waking up at 2:20 every day to go to bed. Thank you for telling me that the hardest part of that is not being able to tuck the girls in at night. Thank you for understanding that sometimes a girl just needs a new pair of shoes. Thank you for taking away the debit card when I'm talking about buying five pairs. Thank you for being the most amazing husband I could ever have imagined.
I couldn't be happier.
Or so I think...