Today is my 19th wedding anniversary. Not hardly long enough to understand very much of what it means to join my life and heart with another, and just long enough to get a glimpse of both how beautiful and heartbreaking the attempt can be.
The thing about marriage is…no one comes into it with any idea of what they are doing. I realize now it is better that way for all involved. Nineteen years ago I thought marriage was about love. About companionship. About sex. About beginning a new family together. And it most certainly is all of that.
But…for some…those brave enough to make the attempt for something greater…who are hopefully surrounded by marriage mentors able to explain and model the process…or those who God pulls along kicking and screaming… (My category, by the way.)
Marriage can also about two broken people, being courageous enough to undress their broken souls in front of the other… in all its raw vulnerability, almost never at convenient times, usually in shockingly unpredictable ways… and asking to be loved…offering unconditional love to the other…the very things that broken souls struggle to do.
And along the way, if both husband and wife face their fear of rejection, of abandonment, of failure…if they decide to do the hard and at times terrifying heart work needed to repair the damage sin has done in their lives…if they decide to stay present both physically and emotionally, even when everything in them is leading them to retreat…they have a unique opportunity.
To experience healing. Growth. To develop hearts with greater capacity to love and receive love. To do this amazing thing where their lives become more intertwined and interdependent…yet at the same time they become more fully the individual God created them to be…cheering each other on in their journey, both from the sideline as a fan, and in the race as partner all at the same time.
And if they keep at it…one day…what began as two broken people uniting in their brokenness, has the potential to become two more-whole people, enjoying the delightful and tender experience of loving and being loved by the more complete, more mature version of their spouse. Because years into a marriage, one’s husband or wife is both the same person they married, and also, the different person that their time together has helped craft. And as their bodies decline with age and the mileage of life, their hearts can come alive, enabling a togetherness and love that is unavailable… and honestly, unimaginable in their youthful brokenness.
This is how two become one. It is a longer, messier, and more gloriously wonderful journey than anyone could ever explain to another. Instead, it must be personally experienced through the years.
The thing about marriage is…it isn’t what most people think it is. It can be more. Way more.