Twenty-two years ago I was twenty-two years old. My tux-clad father escorted me up the aisle of our rather homely little Assemblies of God church, where he handed me off to my husband-to-be. I wore a wedding gown of taffeta that I sewed myself in the dining room of my dad’s brown-carpeted home. (I returned home in January of that year after college to work for six months and plan the wedding. My husband-t0-be lived in Texas with his family during that time.)
My wedding was simple. I had contemplated eloping, but ran into two obstacles: 1) My dad; and 2) My husband-to-be. A friend of the family convinced me that my dad would be sad and hurt and disappointed if I didn’t get married in a church. And my husband-to-be told me that if we didn’t have a wedding in my church, we’d have to get married in his church in Texas. So, fine. I planned a wedding. Whatever.
I cringe a little bit now because my wedding probably broke all two hundred million rules of wedding etiquette. For instance, I didn’t serve anything but cake and mints and punch and coffee at the reception. I know! I didn’t really feed the people who came to my wedding.
It was cheap. It was plain. Someone arranged the flowers for me for a hundred bucks. My friends sang. It was barely a wedding at all, really, especially considering I didn’t feed anyone at all . . . also, there was also no dancing and no drinking.
But no matter. Hopefully they’ve all forgotten about it by now. And, hopefully, the bridesmaids have forgiven me for dressing them in bright purple dresses with bubble skirts.
Twenty-two year old. Twenty-two years ago. Although a lifelong pessimist, I assumed that choosing a spouse and planning a wedding meant I would also choose my life and plan its events. How wrong I was. Turns out marriage is not a bed of roses, a walk in the park or any other cliche’. Rather, marriage is plain-old messy life–but life lived with a spouse. Marriage does not detour you around life’s rocky spots.
Two years after my wedding, my husband couldn’t find a job. My forty-seven year old dad was diagnosed with cancer and died four months later.
Our infertility was diagnosed. I spent a lot of time crying.
My husband accepted a job that paid a pittance. We adopted twins, we moved to Michigan.
My husband was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer and had two surgeries.
We got pregnant (surprise!) and had a homebirth attended by an Amish midwife. We moved back to the Pacific Northwest. Welcomed another baby (SURPRISE!).
Twenty-two years ago I married a good man who still makes me laugh, a man who keeps his promises, who calms the storms in our lives, who wants to live a worthwhile, productive life of service. He takes plenty of naps, reads about theology, watches political shows on television, loves football season, genuinely cares about people and adores books.
And finally, he’s stopped thinking that I’m going to turn into a cheerleader and wake up with a smile on my face and start describing the glass as half-full. He laughs at my jokes and understands that sarcasm is my love language. He rocks.
Happy anniversary to us.
(They say the first twenty-two years are the hardest; then it gets easier. Fingers crossed.)