I know. You’re confused because today is about eggs, plastic or dyed and decorated, those eggs usually come 12 to a carton, and because today is Easter Sunday surely I must be connecting the number to the day’s festivities.
But today isn’t just Easter Sunday. No, my lovely readers.
Today is my 18th wedding anniversary! 18 years! How is this even possible? I’m being serious. Every year Peter and I look at each other with a moment of disbelief that we continue to beat the odds, no thanks to our brilliant communication skills, our mind-reading abilities and fair fighting practices.
Eighteen years ago I was 22, and, as a friend noted yesterday, looked not a whole lot like I do today. It had rained during the week of the wedding, and the morning of our wedding day the skies opened up and we had sun despite the cooler temps. I remember our wedding party had to put down cardboard so we could take some photos near a pond on the church grounds. One of my favorite photos is of me and Peter standing on a damp, grassy hill kissing each other just as a gust of wind caught my veil. We were the only ones who had glass glasses at our reception so we clanked our own glasses to steal kisses, and we didn’t realize until months later when we got our photo proofs that the wedding topper we had picked out never arrived.
But then after the wedding is the marriage. I tell my engaged friends that if they spend half the time, energy and even money in preparing for the marriage instead of the wedding they will have taken the wiser route.
Two years ago we had the absolute worst anniversary celebration. Maybe turning Sweet 16 is only for young women because our marriage’s 16th was terrible. We went out to a restaurant and before we even got there Peter and I had an argument, which left me in tears and then meant a very tense over-priced dinner where we barely spoke to each other. I just wanted to go home. Alone. Every time I think about that night I think about the unfortunate waitstaff who thought they were surprising me with the rose and lovely note on the table. Instead they got the anniversary couple from hell.
Fortunately for us it was so incredibly, utterly terrible that we realized we couldn’t just hold our breath, count to 365 and make it to 17 years of marriage. It was a sucky 16th wedding anniversary that made us desperate for help because we didn’t want to just make it through another year. We both wanted what I suppose Easter represents as well – new life and victory, and I suppose we both realized we had lost our way from each other and perhaps from God.
So help in our marriage and in our individual lives has required more intentional work – the kind of work that couples who are long-past the newlywed stage will mention to their newlywed or engaged or soon-to-be or googely-eyed in love friends. If you think planning a wedding is work, marriage will break you. (Btw, I know wedding planning work and stress – we had 1,000 guests at our wedding !%@#!?)
Peter and I are deeply grateful that many of our friends and family who witnessed our marriage vows 18 years ago are still a part of our lives (except for the guy who caught the garter. We still aren’t sure who he is/was!). And we are just as grateful for the many new friends and family who have joined in our lives throughout the years – witnesses to how those vows continue to play out 18 years later because the flowers have since shriveled up and died and the perfect dress is boxed up sitting under the bed in the guest room.
The wedding is a gilded memory but the marriage is ever-present. I am amazed at how God has used my amazing but sometimes uncommunicative and slightly emotionally detached man to soften some pretty harsh edges in my heart and soul, how the worst in each of us still can give way to the very best in one another. Some mornings I am amazed to wake up and find that he hasn’t run away from my judgement and criticism, and other evenings I enjoy a moment of self-satisfaction because I really do have an uncanny ability to be right 99% of the time. I look at this life and this family and I really do see the hand of God in this beautiful mess of a marriage, and I am so blessed that Peter sees it too.
Happy 18th anniversary, Peter! And since neither of us is any good at reading minds, I really, really do not want anything based of the 18th wedding anniversary gift ideas of porcelain and or gemstone Cat’s Eye. 😉