For better, for worse, forever

The Preacher and me, honeymoon bound--before we let stress get the best of us.
The Preacher and me, honeymoon bound–before we let stress get the best of us.

Marriage: the extreme race; a relentless exercise of repeated acts contrary to human nature—not getting one’s own way and putting another’s needs above one’s own.

Many enter. Some race for life.

Before my parents’ wedding, they stole off to have lunch at a café in a nearby town. They enjoyed each other’s company so much, they lost track of time, returning barely two hours before their evening wedding. Bedlam and panic greeted them—friends and family thought they’d eloped. A six-decade marriage has followed that wedding.

I recall our wedding day too, but not for any sweet tryst between my groom and me.

August 21, 1976. I was nineteen, the Preacher, 23. For our honeymoon, we’d agreed on a week at a beachfront conference center in Oregon, eight hours south of our B.C. wedding spot. We’d drive there immediately after the reception, we decided. (For the record: we don’t recommend this.)

“Where’s our marriage license?” the Preacher asked, as we approached the border crossing into the US.

“I didn’t bring it.”

He fretted that we may not be allowed to cross the 49th Parallel. That the conference center wouldn’t let us share a room unless we proved we’d gotten married. And maybe they wouldn’t let us back into Canada later. Had I ever thought of THAT? Huh?

Like a pair of bickering birds, we began. Things worsened when (somewhere around “hopelessly lost”) I had to explain that I’d forgotten to pick up a map. Still sore at me for forgetting the license AND for ordering Styrofoam cups—non-tinkling cups—for the wedding luncheon—he clammed up.

So did I. My bouquet hadn’t arrived as ordered. I had a cold and dropped green Kleenex all the way down the aisle. He’d given me a beautiful string of pearls for a wedding gift, then asked me not to wear them with my wedding dress. The bride doesn’t always get what she wants either, DARLING.

Anyway, by magnetism, chauvinism, theism, or some other ism, I felt he ought to be able to get us to Oregon, sans map. I said that much.

In the early morning, when we hauled ourselves and our borrowed car into the conference center, we considered requesting separate rooms.

In spite of our immaturity, we’d both made an honest, earnest commitment that morning. We spent the next few days making up; remembering what we’d done for love and what we hoped to do—have a long and faithful marriage.

In the last 37 years, we’ve had at least thirty good ones. The remainder, we ploughed through and exited—together, by God’s grace. And good counsel, much teeth-gritting, forgiving, and overlooking of faults.

God’s intent is for the extreme marriage race to last for life. Ours too. Perhaps we’ll renew our vows one day, just for a reminder. I’ll wear the pearls. We’ll have real tinkly cups. We may even steal away for a quiet lunch beforehand, to review God’s countless mercies.

Happy anniversary, Hon.