I will be attending a very special event this afternoon: two friends are celebrating their 20th anniversary by publicly renewing their vows.
Ellen and Robbie have been planning this for months. In addition to affirming their marriage, they will be including their two daughters in the ceremony. All four members of the family will be lighting the unity candle as a symbol of their lifelong bond as a family. I'm looking forward to going and I'll probably take lots of tissues along too (I'm such a sop!!).
Dave and I will be celebrating our 27th anniversary in a few weeks. In contrast to our 25th anniversary, this one will be low-key. Dave and my boss conspired to surprise me on our 25th anniversary. Since it occurred on a Wednesday, Dave wrote an affirmation ceremony that served as the focal point of the Adult Rehabilitation Center's midweek Vespers service. I knew something was up when my boys showed up wearing ties! :-) My boss (who enjoys practical jokes, conspiracies, etc.) loved it! He was tickled pink when Dave asked him to set it up; he still talks about it!
Partners for Life. It sounds wonderful. It's the ideal that all newlyweds cherish. Yet so many marriages founder. Why do some marriages thrive while others crash and burn?
It would be easy to give a pat answer and say that it depends on whether the marriage is Christ-centered. But sometimes marriages between Christans fail too. Faith is an important anchor for marriage, but it is not the one-size-fits-all formula for marital success.
Even though our faith is the number one bond between us, Dave and I are compatible in many ways. We genuinely enjoy doing things together: camping, going to ballgames and concerts, shopping. . . even grocery shopping is enjoyable when we do it together. We are each other's best friends and we genuinely value each other's advice as well as our companionship.
As much as we enjoy being together, however, Dave and I also respect each other's uniqueness and appreciate each other's independent pursuits. Dave spends time every day reading business news, planning and executing stock trades, etc. The quickest way to send me into a coma is to show me a bar graph! Dave also loves planning trips. He spends lots of time each spring planning possible vacation routes and ideas. When he has a few ideas ready, he'll show me the options and I'll agree to one overall plan with some suggestions for tweaks. Then he'll make some revisions and we'll go through it all again. Sometimes this process occurs three or four times over several months until we finally establish a vacation plan. Still, Dave does most of the preliminary work: all I have to do is buy groceries, grab my sunglasses and climb into the RV when it's time to go. Dave even loves John Wayne movies! I often quip that John Wayne inspired me to finish my Ph.D.: every time Dave turned on a John Wayne movie, I went to another room and studied!
In addition to sharing a common faith and being compatible yet individual, Dave and I have learned (sometimes with pain and difficulty) the arts of compromise and flexibility. I wish I could say that we've never hurt or disappointed each other, but that simply is not true. Nevertheless, we've always retained our commitment to working through conflicts and struggles together. Every relationship has down times. And significant relationships have tougher down times than inconsequential relationships do. If a casual friendship falls apart, one simply picks up and moves on to other friendships. That is not easily done with marriages and families. Marriage and family life are sometimes tough precisely because the people and the outcomes matter so much to us.
Partners for Life. I will be pleased to celebrate with Ellen and Robbie today. Their celebration has challenged me to renew my commitment to my marriage. Ellen and Robbie: congratulations . . . and thank you.