Marriage Is Like Life

Marriage is like life.

There’s a conception. A prophetic moment in which two people are unaware of the ultimate importance, that first rush of limerence, growth and strengthening that is invisible to most, like a baby being incubated inside her mother. You can get a fuzzy snapshot of the beauty to come, but you can’t really appreciate it. Not yet.

For Kari and I, this was a chance meeting at a church camp, me making her laugh, arduous drives between Saint Louis and Chicago just so we could see one another, and a series of long conversations on the phone or Instant Messenger.

Then there’s the miraculous birth. Recited words like “I do” are the two blades of the scissor, collapsing toward one another and slicing the umbilical cord. They are small, but what they force into being is enormous. The first gasps of breath often come with crying, and when a marriage is born it is a beautiful if not traumatic event. It is easier to separate newborn from mother than it is to join two adults together. We were detached for independence. Years later we volunteer to be hinged again to another. Unity is more difficult than disunity. Newborns cry, indeed. But so do newly married husbands and wives.

Marriage is like life.

My wife and I were joined together fifteen years ago today. We exchanged rings, vows, hopes, and dreams. We felt the sharp slice of the knife calling us to come to life. I died. She died. We were born.

It’s a beauty, both marriage and life. And the two are similar. Those first years are a mixture of late nights, wailing, and loud protest that a particular need is not being met. But there’s also family and friends surrounding, gifts being exchanged, and silent awe at the wonder of it all.

Marriage is like life.

Marriages, like an infant, pick up steam slowly and then all at once. There are stages of helplessness and dependency, hopefulness and exploration, failure and learning. You get your words mixed up. You can’t quite get your point across.

You crawl.

You pull up.

You walk.

You run.

By year three or four you have figured some things out — important things. Communication. What you can handle on your own and what you still need help with. You make some bad habits. You break some others.

Then it’s off to school.

Oh, the lessons we’ve learned. You study hard. You pass some tests, you flunk others. You ask other couples if you can swap notes, because there’s some things you’re just still not getting. You’re insecure, you make comparisons, you get plenty of encouragement and then you realize, right when you think you’ve got it all figured out, that life is way more complicated than you thought.

Puberty.

Marriage is like life.

Change is inevitable and remarkably uncomfortable, but it’s this transition from childishness to maturity that takes a marriage from adorable and laden with potential to thriving and attractive.

For the last three or four years, my wife and I have gone through puberty. I think we’ve made it to the other side. We can adequately cover our odors. Our voices have changed. Our marriage is a teenager now, just old enough to get our learner’s permit. We’re young enough that there’s a lot we still don’t know, but we’re old enough to know that there’s a lot we still don’t know.

Marriage is like life: miraculous, beautiful, and incomprehensibly hard.

Still, you grow. Day by day, little by little. Then a growth spurt.

In the last few years, my wife and I have hit that growth spurt. We’re fifteen, she and I. My wife is coming into her own, and others are starting to take notice. It’s a beautiful thing. As for me, as a husband I feel like the high school freshman with a wispy little mustache, yet brimming with confidence. I’m just starting to fill out. Someday my true strength may match my bravado.

I’m ever convinced that I was placed on the earth to meet a girl named Kari, to love the absolute mess out of her, and journey through life together.

Because marriage is like life.

Our union is not yet adult. There are so many firsts still to come. But from those first gasps of air pulled into our lungs, from the crawling and the crying to the broadening of our shoulders and the acquired shared wisdom, we’ve done it together.

Marriage is like life, and life is gorgeous if not challenging.

I’ll take it all, you can bring it on, if Kari is there with me. And someday when we’re toothless and wrinkled, annoying each other on purpose from one rocking chair to another, we’ll talk about how we were fifteen once. Not carefree, maybe, but moving quickly toward our prime with a smile on our face.

Happy Anniversary, darlin’.