Three years into marriage and I can confidently say that I love my wife more than the day I met her, more than the day we celebrated the promise we made to one another before God and before others.
However, our third year anniversary came at an odd time. It came during a season when others were struggling with their marriages, some to the point of divorce, others amid trials of adultery. Even writing the word now seems odd, and reflecting back on what seems like ages ago, the whole time period feels surreal.
It was only a little over one year ago I wrote the piece, Confession: I should be on the Ashley Madison list. What was then a distant epiphany, a notional experience on adultery and its effect, I now am a primary witness of living out the harsh realities of hurting and broken marriages.
The onslaught of emotions through this period was similar to the drowning wave felt when my wife and I experienced our miscarriage. Many tears were shed, there was heartache, confusion, anger, sorrow, yet there were also glimpses of hope. There were fleeting moments of confidence, relief, strength, courage, and oddly even peace.
What is mind blowing is common reactions toward these offenses would be to immediately separate the victim from the offender (i.e. the one who is cheating on the other would clearly be at fault). Immediate reactions would be, “How could he or she do that to the other person?”
Yet, what was so strange was this distinction between my immediate response—which was to crucify the one cheating—versus a deeper, inner voice recognizing the fact that there is more than one offender in this equation.
It is moments like this that amazes me, that sheds light onto the reality of God, because only through the message of God’s amazing love, the forgiveness I receive despite my adulterous heart towards God, the patience and mercy of God, that I am even able to have this dichotomous reaction towards something like adultery. I also have been able to recognize God’s extreme anger and wrath towards transgressions such as this.
Either that, or I am a fool beyond belief…
I am at Fault
One realization I had through this trial was, I am also at fault.
Our culture loves to celebrate. We find reasons to celebrate even when there is no significant meaning. We love to gather together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, even though we don’t know the history behind it nor have any Irish heritage. We love cheering drinks to Cinco de Mayo despite not having a single clue as to why the day exists. We celebrate new jobs, homes, promotions, and of course, relationships.
It is a fact the tristate area has its own standard of celebration, particularly concerning weddings. Recent study shows dramatic increases in spend, focus on guest experiences, and overall a much greater emphasis on this one particular day. Even in my own circle and personal experience with planning our wedding further supports this fact.
Everyone loves to celebrate this day, and rightly so for it is a momentous occasion. But I wonder, how many of the average 139 guests attending someone’s wedding, so eager to dance and party and hit up the open bar, so eager to take pictures of the beautiful bride in her elegant wedding dress, are also eager to be there for the couples when someone is deathly sick, when there are intense, hurtful fights, when their marriage is suffering, perhaps to the point of divorce?
I am at fault because I don’t know how to respond to some of these trials. I am at fault because I’m willing to be the life of the party, yet I’ll shy away when I hear the whispers of brewing troubles between couples. I am at fault for some of my friends because I did not speak up sooner when I knew there were things to address.
Yet—either out of fear for over stepping boundaries, or because I am, like the rest of this millennial generation, a coward to really get involved in other peoples’ lives—I did not speak up.
So, what are we really celebrating? With ‘wedding season’ approaching, I am much more hesitant to treat the day so lightly. A part of me rather not go to some of these celebrations, because I rather not be held accountable for the weight of each of these new relationships and promises. I rather have a couple be upset at me for not attending their celebration, than making the promise to be with that couple through all the ups and downs of marriage and life.
I can hear some people respond to this by saying, “Why do I put so much weight on myself? Why do I have this particular view of marriage and the wedding?” If that is the case, and weddings are just celebrations and marriages something just between two people, then I can see why people rather skip out on the ceremonies and go straight to the reception.
Perhaps we are celebrating for the sake of celebrating, without knowing the deeper meaning behind the occasion, without much thought of what we are witnessing, what we are promising.
My hope, my honest desire, is for the redemption of marriage. That the celebration of the wedding day, would be worthy of the ongoing celebrations to come, as well as the trials and sufferings, too. My hope is that couples would have the proper understanding of marriage, and that more marriages would shine the beautiful light of what it can and ought to be.
Three years into marriage, most people would say it is past the honeymoon phase. I can truly say that I love my wife even more than our honeymoon phase, and I hope to keep doing so.
Happy Anniversary my beloved wife…