Friday, October 14, 2011

What I Didn't Know Then

Dave and I celebrate fifteen years of marriage this week! Truly I am a different  person than I was that sunny Autumn Saturday when we exchanged our vows.

I've been dwelling on all that I didn't know then . . .

-          I didn’t know then that our shared joys as well as our sorrows would add a deep and multi-layered history on top of the love and commitment that were there right from the start (or at least growing from our third date forward).

-          I didn’t know then that some gray hair, a few pounds, and innumerable stretch marks (those would be mine) wouldn’t really matter to either of us.

-           I didn’t know then (although I suspected) that Dave would haul himself out of bed early and stay late to provide a roof over our heads, food on the table, and a stay-at-home mom for our children.

-          I didn’t know then that our journey toward the family we have today we be an uncertain, circuitous one fraught with loss, but punctuated with great surprises. Hello, John! Hello, Ainsley!

-          I didn’t know then that Dave would be an absolute rock as we faced miscarriage after miscarriage.

-          I didn’t know then that Dave would faithfully and generously respond to a son’s nightly request, “Sing Jesus songs to me, Daddy.”

-          I didn’t know then (though this, too, I suspected) that Dave would have special (not greater) love for the blond-haired, blue-eyed girl who is the exclamation point at the end of our family.

-          I didn’t know then the joy my sons would find simply in being in the presence of their father – trips to Sonic, visits to the Hard Work Store, popping over to Mistah Harbor Fweight.

-          I didn’t know then how much Dave would laugh with our boys.

-          I didn’t know then the joy I would experience watching Dave share his passions with our children. I could not have envisioned the night Tim asked a simple question about chemistry, and Dave spent ninety minutes pouring over the periodic table with him. (I could have told you then that ninety minutes was approximately eighty-seven minutes and thirty seconds longer than I have spent pondering the periodic table in my entire life.)

-          I didn’t know then that we would be much better parents of four children then we ever were of one or two.

-          I didn’t know then that Dave would have the ability to speak into the limits of my love and call me to be more of the wife, mother, and friend that God wants me to be. He would say the same is true of me.

As I read blogs about marriage and family, I come across a concerned new mother who worries she’ll never reestablish her intimate life after childbirth. I meet a wife facing a trying season in her marriage, worried that this or that will never change. I would never diminish someone’s aggravation or even pain, but fifteen years does lend perspective.

In my work with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, we invite the children to dwell on the great moments of creation, redemption, and parousia. We unroll a grosgrain ribbon called La Fettuccia that is 300 feet long. We unroll and unroll and unroll. Each rib represents a thousand years. When we finish unrolling the ribbon, we gaze back to get a perspective on its length and breadth. It’s a big work, we say, a very big work.

Marriage, too, is a big work.

Dave and I recently spoke at a marriage preparation class. We landed the coveted last slot of the day, the slot that also happened to fall right after lunch. God bless those couples! They so wanted to be out of there.

Marriage is a big work, I wanted to tell them. Keep it all in perspective.

When we’ve hit a gully or two, we’ve kept rolling. When life didn’t unfold exactly as we planned, we exercised the virtue of hope. We’ve called upon all the graces God promised when we exchanged vows. Believe me, we didn’t do this perfectly.  But over fifteen years, we have found ourselves overlooking a flaw here, ironing out a kink or two there, growing closer (rather than apart) through loss, and ultimately enjoying a deeper love, a love well-seasoned with a dash of maturity, a healthy sense of This Too Shall Pass, an ability to reconcile quickly, and a willingness to laugh at our own foibles.

Fifteen years ago attraction turned to love and love led to commitment. There was a spark that, in the words of Michael Card “made us shine in each other’s eyes.”

After fifteen years, I’m so very grateful for both the initial spark and for all that I didn’t know then but see so clearly now.

Happy anniversary! As you shared last night after the roses, and the cookies, and the eclairs – I’d marry you all over again.


Anonymous said...

What a lovely, lovely post. Many congratulations to both of you. The trials and tribulations that my husband and I have faced over the years have brought us closer together as well. A while back, I suggested that we should perhaps think of a special trip we might like to make for our 20th wedding anniversary. Then we realised we'd already celebrated it over a year earlier! How time flies when you're raising a family. Blessings to you.

Kelly said...

Thank you, Christine! Not too late to plan that trip!

Dave and I are thinking about a joint 15th anniversary/his 50th birthday trip. Lots of logistical issues, but worth the effort, I'm sure.

Amy Parris said...

Aww Kelly, beautifully said. Love the "Didn't know part". And to think your wedding was my first big public outing with my husband of 13 years makes it all the more special.