There it was. The white dress dangled from the staircase for that popular snapshot just before it adorned my body. My sister and cousin buttoned up all 1,987 buttons, joking that Ryan would never be able to get that garment it off of me.
I took a sip of champagne and laughed nervously about how I wasn’t sure if I remembered how to kiss, as it had been several years. I was not sure if I even knew what intimacy was. I had waited for this moment for what felt like ages!
Not to kiss. Not to have sex. Not to wear a wedding dress….
I had waited for a promise.
My soul was wired for man who would lay down his life for me. A man who would fight for me, and who would stand by my side on my grumpy days, on my sick days, on my bad hair days, and on my days of contentment.
I was designed for a man who would lay aside his hobbies, his work, and his dreams for the sake of doing life together. And I deeply desired to do the same for this sort of gentleman.
I had found him. My prince. My Disney dreams were coming true and the romantic fantasies that plagued the mind of this tender-hearted teenager were finally realized.
After the ceremony, we enjoyed the reception. Eventually, we were guided off of the dance floor and ran through a tunnel of loving friends and family with sparklers.
We kissed our families goodbye and departed.
We pulled up to our motel and bid our driver farewell. Never had we stayed the night together. Never had we enjoyed this sort of independence. We had saved so many moments and gifts to share in marriage.
I can still hear my heels clicking up the wooden stairs and down the street-facing row of motel rooms as we made our way to our residence. Ryan opened the door and the view within took my breath away.
As the entryway opened, my eyes drank in, what must have been, 100 tea lit candles scattered about. My favorite chocolates were sitting on the coffee table and rose petals blanketed the entire space. He took my hand and guided me into the living room and we sat on the couch.
I asked him if this was legal (you know, the candles with fire in the motel and all). I asked him how, in the world, he managed to decorate this room while simultaneously dancing the night away with me at the reception (we had the best wedding planners in the world who assisted him – shout out to Salt Harbor in Wilmington, NC).
After this basic interrogation, I ventured to my suitcase and pulled out my burlap-wrapped letters – a collection of letters I began writing to my future husband as a young girl. In these letters I shared my process of learning love, commitment, and intimacy up to this point. I told him that I had been waiting for him since I could remember.
He gave me a bracelet with charms that represented our journey to this moment – a bracelet we continue to add to as our story grows.
And we cried together. We cried because we both felt a deep craving was satisfied – and we were exceedingly grateful for this gift of intimate love.
God designed man and woman to commit to one another for life. He created us with a craving hidden deep inside of our hearts: the desire to enter into a love-soaked covenant. A mere taste of the intimacy we can have with God, Himself.
God made both man and woman in His image and each display two different and powerful expressions of His personality:
At the core of a woman is a desire to emotionally connect. To allure. To comfort. To be pursued. To be fought for. To help. To extend reverence. To be loved.
At the core of a man is a desire to physically connect. To seek out. To pursue. To protect. To fight for. To cherish. To restore. To be respected.
Like two puzzle pieces fitting together, we get to see the fullness of God’s personality expressed in this sort of union.
As we find that other puzzle piece, we get to know an aspect of God’s personality in a tangible way. We get to experience a fulfillment He reserved for us because He loves us and wants us to have a glimpse of the love, pleasure and joy we will experience with Him throughout eternity.
Marriage is one way He gives us a glimpse into His heart and into Heaven.
Our culture violently resists commitment. Today, marital covenant is interpreted as settling, compromising independence, setting oneself up for failure, parting with success, spontaneity and adventure, and/or succumbing to hallow tradition.
What a tragedy. It’s a tragedy because our world has compromised Love all in the name of “independence” and “progression.”
We have limited happiness and satisfaction within our marriages and many of us have signed empty contracts that do not fulfill our deepest, God-crafted need and calling:
The need to be committed to, and the call to lay our lives down for another person.
The marriage contract is not just a legal document, it is not a tradition established by man, it is a picture of how God is committed to loving us in the midst of our mess, our mistakes, our failures, and our struggles.
It is a declaration that a couple’s love for one another is beyond feelings, it is beyond convenience, and it takes precedence over other commitments. How amazing it is that we can enter into an earthly reflection of this diving reality.
Marriage is the most foolish commitment one will ever make because it is impossible. Without the help and strength of God, marriage is impossible.
Based on my recent interview with couples who have been married 30-50+ years, I learned that the pillar of a strong and lasting marriage is mutual respect, compatibility, reasonable expectations, flexibility, and a shared understanding of commitment.
I closed my computer after these interviews and within 3 hours I had disrespected Ryan, complained about our differences, experienced disappointment when he did not help with the baby (after a 13 hour workday), and, embarrassingly, contemplated fleeing to my grandparents local cottage for a couple nights to “give Ryan space.”
The Marriage covenant is the most challenging and unreasonable decision anyone will ever try to uphold in their own strength.
This sort of commitment requires us to lean into God. It requires us to be humble. To be gracious. To be merciful. To be sensitive. And to be selfless.
If you are in a struggling marriage, take heart. There is hope. Marital covenant is sometimes difficult, and always sanctifying. Focus your energy on knowing God and being known by Him, then spill out whatever He fills your heart with onto your spouse without any expectation of reciprocity.
We need to know God’s love and respect for us before we are able to truly love another.
My P.S. to you,
Ryan and I are not perfect. Our marriage is not perfect. Please do not be deceived into thinking that we are going about our relationship unscathed by the hardships of life.
We do not have it all together.
I simply wanted to state this reality to my readers so you know I am not writing from a place of perfection, but from a place of studying the Scriptures and learning from women who have gone before me.