Two weeks and 14 years ago—March 16, 1998 to be exact—a young flaxen-haired beauty and I rode the tramway to the top of a mountain in Palm Springs, California. We walked out into a sunny snowfield in a clearing in the woods. I read portions of my journal to the girl, the parts that talked about the bottomless well of love I’d fallen into. And then I asked her to marry me.
Yes, she said yes, she said yes, she said yes.
|Engagement picture, March 16, 1998|
They say it takes at least 12 lengthy months to properly plan a wedding. Maybe two full years, if you really want things done right. Give it five years and you’ll really be certain.
But I say you know when you know.
We were married in 12 weeks.
|D-day, June 6, 1998|
As a wedding present, some jokester gave us a 20,000 piece puzzle. Most of it was featureless blue sky. Over the next six months we worked on that puzzle, frustrated but determined. We finished it, then burned it in the fireplace.
Newly married life was a bit like that puzzle. It required some adjustments, sure. About ten years’ worth, we’d both say today with a grin.
We found it challenging, for instance, to learn all those practical sides of running a household. Who puts the dishes in the dishwasher? Who makes dinner, and what kinds of comments are appropriate when it’s over?
We wrestled with unrealistic expectations. My wife would say, for instance, that no matter how romantic the movies make it seem, it’s completely revolting to wake up and straightaway smooch a person on the mouth.
Oh yeah. There’s junk. People enter a marriage as blemished, imperfect, mistake-making folks. Everyone screams and stomps and throws the remote at the wall when they’re angry.
I understand why people are hesitant today to offer marriage glowing endorsements. The institution can be a tough road to travel, one that plenty of people stumble along.
Even at the best of times, as my God-fearing grandmother Hazel used to say about her very happy 60-year-marriage to Grandpa Bob, “I never once considered divorce. Murder maybe. But never divorce.”
Strangely enough, she was quoting the late Ruth Graham, wife of Dr. Billy Graham.
That’s Ruth’s and Grandma’s wisdom. Do you see the truth in it? They knew marriage was tough. But they also knew marriage was good. Deep from the beginnings of time, people were meant to be together.
And that’s why I believe in all the potential for wonder and goodness and security and fun that a marriage holds out to people, even today. We are not modern people. Bah. We are not bound by the superfluous conventions that others insist are required before a marriage takes place.
|14 years later. Still smiling.|
If you are married right now, take this day to remember your engagement. Remember the promise and hope that day held out. Use that memory to fan into flame the love you now have.
And if today you are in a committed relationship and vacillating on the choice of marriage, then my encouragement is to gather your journal and a bouquet of wildflowers, take the tramway to the top of the mountain, and boldly proceed.
Question: What’s the most challenging thing about being married, being single, or being in a close, unmarried relationship?