Saturday, March 13, 2010

Holy what-rimony?!

I don't always treat the institution of marriage as kindly as I should.

I'm not mean about it, per se, but I am very aware that I'm just not as consistently polite about it as my mother raised me to be.

This is probably a good time to reinforce several truths:
It's not that I don't like the idea of marriage, and it's not that I like it too much. I'm neither adverse to joining my life with the right person's, or so jaded that I scoff anyone who does it, or even what i consider to be the worst of all -- a single person who is so envious of married people that I'm bitter that I'm not there.

I should also probably clarify that this has become my view of marriage in general, not when it specifically applies to those I'm close to, and whose love I've watched unfold and strengthen. I am fortunate beyond measure to have parents and a sibling and other close relatives and friends who have lived out the true ideal of marriage, through thick or thin, for better or worse. And I'm super, amazingly grateful for that. Really.

It's just that, since friends my age have started getting married (and unmarried), I haven't very often seen the institution being lived out as the sacred commitment I believe it should be. As a result, more often than not, I view jumping into it as a lottery purchase of sorts, or a fad weight-loss buy-in.

("You signed up for that? Just because you want the ideal version of you? And you're expecting results with no work? And you think YOUR one-in-a-million shot's gonna pan out perfectly? Ohhh-kaaay...")

And there are the people who seem to be getting married only because it's time to do that, or because their friends are, or because it's expected that that's their next logical step. And while those factors aren't bad by any means, and could probably use a little more attention from this redhead, they're, to me, just not enough to hold water on their own. Especially when the couple constantly fights, or complains about each other, or puts one another down in public or private. In those situations, doing what's expected just because it's expected is like refusing to exercise but spending good money on a fad weight loss pill: why bother, when this probably isn't a healthy or long-term solution, and will only cause more damage in the end?

And even when one -- or both -- walks down the aisle with an accurate, secure, sane definition of "forever," where's the guarantee that no one's dictionary changes after a baby is born, or a house is built, or a job is lost, or a disease is discovered?

Maybe my perspective comes from having dated a commitment phobe for too long. (Despite my protectiveness of that relationship in the past, placing myself under the direct influence of a guy who, even in his 30s, broke out into hives over "the 'L' word" couldn't have been healthy. Also, still saying "the 'L' word" in your 30s is probably not a good sign.)

Or maybe watching beautiful people whom I dearly love privately writhe in pain as their marriages shatter has taken its toll.

Or perhaps my not-so-happy-ending-assumptive view comes from the jaw-dropping, ever-growing number of my high school classmates and childhood friends who are already, after 15 years, divorce statistics...some more than once over.

Whatever the reason, I'm not always giddy when someone tells me they're engaged.

This was totally not the case when James Findley called me last year with his news. When I heard my best-all-around guy friend's voice tell me that Melissa said yes, I couldn't stop the happy tears from forming in my eyes.

James and Melissa are, like so many dear friends of mine, a precious couple whose love has intensified and withstood enough obstacles to ensure that they'll give marriage a good name, and will treat it as holy matrimony.

I am honored to be their friend -- individually and collectively -- and am truly sad to be missing their wedding (even though James promises he understands and I've promised to share dinner and their wedding video once they're back from the honeymoon and things are a little calmer for all).

I couldn't be at their ceremony today, but my heart is full with how proud I am of my sweet friends, because I know they did not speak or feel their vows lightly, and that they won't take them lightly, either.

And because of newlyweds like they are now, I don't find myself wondering what they're getting themselves into, or only holding a mere hope that things will go okay. Because of couples like James and Melissa, today I am smiling as I'm thinking about marriage.

So here's to you, Mr. and Mrs. Findley! I'm with you in spirit, and will absolutely celebrate this special time with y'all in person as soon as life allows. May God bless and keep your life together, and make His face shine gently upon you both. And above all, may He give you peace.

I love you both.


  1. That picture of them is great!! And I agree - people do not take it seriously these days. When I get married, if I get married, it is something that I will not take lightly. I don't believe in divorce so when/if it happens... I will be in it for the long haul. Congrats to your friends. I wish them a lifetime of happiness, tears, friendship and love.

  2. Well said, Joy! And yes, isn't that pic amazing?! I love it. :-)

  3. Oh, how I love your candor, RJ!
    Dan & I just spend the past day and a half at a marriage conference led by Paul Tripp, and it rocked our world in the best way possible.
    I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the DVD "What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage" from his website - whether you are single, happily or not-so-happily married, engaged, dating, divorced....

  4. Thank you for the info, Rachael! That sounds great. I'm so glad you & Dan got to experience that. :-)

  5. This is so sweet, Rebekah. I missed seeing you today! James and Melissa do seem to have the real thing and they are lucky to have you as a friend too!

  6. Thanks, Andi! How am I just catching your blog...?!

  7. I wish you had written the first part of this blog to me before I got married the first time!

  8. Greg, IDK if I'd even developed all these thoughts in college. But there was that dinner at O'Charley's... ;-) BTW, what I feel about you and Alicia as a couple mirrors my words to James & Melissa. For what it's worth. :-)

  9. Great great great post! I have felt this way about marriage (and still do...even though i am married). Too many people go into it thinking that it's an easy game and that the pictures will be great!

    (I missed their wedding, sad about it! But, too many flights to MS...and too late in the pregnancy for it)


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