Being married is not for the faint of heart. As much as I enjoy a romantic comedy I know the truth that you don’t see on the screen. The passive-aggressive behavior of doing the very opposite of what your spouse asked you to do or not to do. The tenderness behind a stolen kiss before taking the kids into bed, for the third time.
I know the feeling of surprises during the day, when your spouse picked up your favorite chocolate bar or presents you with a pint of ice cream as a treat. The little inside jokes, the flirting that happens when no one can see the spouse’s face, but they can see yours.
After nearly three decades together, friends and spouses combined, I like to think that my husband and I have a pretty good grasp on this adventure. But recent events made me take a deeper look at the marriages our parents have and I realized we have a long way to go.
Both of our set of parents have been married for 50 years and 49 years respectively. They have had the struggles, the arguments, the compromises, the consoling due to loss, the celebrations for success. Our parents have trained up sons and daughters to become well- established, capable, hard-working adults. They also know the joy of being called grandparents.
It’s in this current season though, that I have watched our parents as they come to terms with health issues, some that are inconvenient, but others that could have been life threatening if they hadn’t been caught.
The love these two couples have is woven into the very way they breathe, talk, listen, help, and go about their day-to-day. The silly way my parents tease and joke about stories that are well worn, yet still funny. Or the way my in-laws spend time working together in the yard or sharing novels to read.
It’s the little looks, the familiar touch when they hold hands. The way they say I love you without saying a word. When the groceries are put away and his favorite chips go into the cupboard. Or how my mom makes sure my dad’s favorite BBQ sauce is ready to go on the dinner they have that night.
All these years together. The stories they know from before the kids were born. The early struggles and heartaches that are shared just between the two of them. These are the stones that built their legacy. The laughter, the strife, the celebrations, the sorrows. Standing by each other’s side when it was time to leave a home, a job, a friend. All these little things make up what is marriage.
Each of our parents have creaks, aches, some have hearing aids, some wear glasses now instead of having perfect vision. There have been surgeries and adjustments to how they live their lives.
It’s the living, breathing example of Genesis 2:24, This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh (HCSB). They have chosen each other again and again. It may seem like a little thing, but this little thing is what helps them through the big things.
Years ago, there was a song sung at weddings that has been playing over and over in my mind. Paul Stookey of the trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, wrote the lyrics. Well, a man shall leave his mother, and a woman leave her home / They shall travel on to where the two shall be as one / As it was in the beginning is now until the end /A woman draws her life from man and gives it back again / And there is love, there is love.*