Last night at supper I told our children, “Well, fourteen years ago tonight, your father and I were eating lasagna together.”
“And cheesecake,” he added.
“Why?” asked one of the boys.
“It was our rehearsal dinner,” he said. Just this past weekend, we all attended a rehearsal dinner and then a wedding, so the connection was bright and immediate. “Oooo!” They crowed, no doubt thinking of parties and chocolate treats, and little of the import of such surface adornments.
After fourteen years, I feel the most insight into marriage we might offer the world is what we bring to it. Words of advice come to mind, but most or all of it is known to you all. Show affection. Repent and forgive each other. Stay married.
Instead, we offer you this. A child staggering out of the bathroom with no pants, yelling, “I need some help!” Another handing over a chewed-over roasted chicken leg: “Here, Mommy.” Raucous laughter. Exuberant and passionate telling and yelling. Puddles of spilled milk. Baby grins. We make eye contact over the messy table, my husband and I, and we smile. We are exhausted and yet not used up. We are in life together.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” We read this in Genesis, and Matthew, and Ephesians. The words mean what they say and do what they say. Once bound together, we are bound. We fight our union by fighting each other, by wearying of the toil of our sinful flesh ever warring against the very one our soul has loved. And yet God gives to us Himself, over and over again, and rebinds us up. We are grateful, and we appreciate all He has given us, much of which we do not even recognize. Marriage is an unending struggle, and an infinite joy, and a deep mystery. It is a breaking and a healing, over and over and over again.
You come near me
with the nearness of sleep.
And yet I am not quiet.
It is to be broken. It is to be
torn open. It is not to be
reached and come to rest in
ever. I turn against you,
I break from you, I turn to you.
We hurt, and are hurt,
and have each other for healing.
It is healing. It is never whole.
~ Wendell Berry