Brent and I have a lot of friends getting married this summer. I received invitations number 6 & 7 this past week. I enjoy watching our friends excitement in this time of preparation. I had just started blogging the fall of our engagement and remember writing THIS in a little coffee shop about my own thoughts about becoming Brent's bride. However, it is interesting now to look back on that time, five years ago now, and think about it from this side.
As I see my friends, hearts all aflutter and aglow, dreaming big dreams about what their lives are going to look like as Mr. and Mrs., I think about what my dreams were during that time. I had been away at college for four years, and the simple thought of getting to see Brent every single day made me unequivocally happy. I pictured the big stuff: buying a house of our own someday, raising a family together. But I also remember dreaming of little things too: washing the dishes while he dried them and put them away, making a meal for us to share together.
Others also told me they were nervous or anxious on their wedding day. I was anything but. I had no doubts in walking down that aisle, joining hands with Brent, and vowing my life to serving and loving him.
People warned me that marriage would be tough work. At first I didn't believe them because after our I DO's it was blissful. We got to see each other every single day. We got to sit on the couch and talk and laugh and just be with one another. It was all so very uncomplicated. I had him. He had me. We thanked the Lord daily.
But life kept on a'coming. Jobs, and moves, and this, and that. We still held firmly to one another, but those pointless fights crept in: "You know that THIS is NOT where I keep the spatulas.." etc. I still adored the fact that I was his wife, I still enjoyed seeing him every day, but life proved it would put us through the ringer a time or two to see if we really meant 'forever.'
And then we decided it was time to bring a baby into our lives. She came and, proving others right, it was and has been the hardest thing we've ever done. We have had to learn how to communicate all over again. We have had to learn to make time for us. We have had to learn how selfish we really are. And she is only two months old.
And then I think of all of my friends who are going through their engagements and on the brink of marriage.
Engagement. That word does mean to make a promise or attachment to something. But to engage also means to hold fast to something or to occupy the attention of something [i.e. "The book engaged her from the beginning."] And isn't this what we should strive for our whole marriage? To engage the other person in our lives? To be engaged by our spouse at every turn? I think it's the ENGAGEMENT that keeps the marriage going.
I look around and I see his empty cereal bowl, or his tennis shoes. I turn on the TV and it is on ESPN. I pick up my toothbrush which is right next to his in the holder. I accidentally use his razor in the shower instead of mine. These are the little things about marriage that I didn't think about looking forward to; these little daily reminders of his presence in my life. Sure things aren't perfect, but I get to share this life with him. THAT is what I was ultimately looking forward to when he slipped that ring on my finger.
And the BIG things? The truly EPIC things like holding my sleeping daughter and knowing that this is a gift that Brent gave me that no other man could have…these are the the icing on the cake.
Yes, the engagement period was wonderful, but I now realize that Brent engages me every day.
C.S. Lewis says it better [as always] from this excerpt in "Mere Christianity." We put a portion of this on our wedding programs:
"Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also many things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called “being in love” usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending “They lived happily ever after” is taken to mean “They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,” then it says what probably never was or ever could be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. ... It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be “in love” with someone else. “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.