A few weeks ago, one of my dear friends from high school married—just a small, private ceremony in Napa Valley. Okay, I was a bit bent out of shape that I wasn’t there personally, only because it’s one of my favorite places in the country (but I digress). I was/am seriously happy for her and logged onto facebook almost daily while they were on their honeymoon, watching for new photos on her Wall. She made a beautiful bride, and her new hubby looked pretty charming too.
But seeing how happy most brides and grooms are on their wedding day also reminds me—almost seven years into my second marriage—that all relationships and partnerships come with difficulties too, slight and severe ones. Marriage ain’t for sissies, nor is it for the the undiscerning or selfish. It’s a lesson I myself am still learning.
I wear a small gold cross around my neck, pretty much all the time, as a reminder of a very special trip to Greece several years ago where it was purchased for me by my husband. He does not share my faith, and I knew he wasn’t excited about me getting it. But he did. I treasure it because it daily reminds me of his gift to me, and it is an outward symbol of my love for the Christ who died so that I might live.
My wedding band, too, is a reminder that over the years has become more important to my faith life each day. I choose to wear it as an outward symbol of my love not only for my husband but for Christ.
In some of the things that have transpired in this marriage, there have been times, certainly, where had I known particular incidents or outcomes I would not have had the commitment to make holy vows in the Sacrament of Marriage. In my own circumstances, I’ll put this fine point on it: the words “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health” need to be taken seriously before vows are ever made. Marriage is challenging; life is challenging. In a society where we elevate the “individual” over the community, let alone our spouse and/or family, these words have sadly, in many cases, become nothing more than words. There are no other words that should give us pause and cause for serious reflection than those we recite when we make our vows to another. In truth, we are making those vows to Christ—individuals are taken out of the equation.
The symbols we recognize as signs of fidelity are truly markers of something bigger than ourselves. We should enter into vows only after fully embracing the idea that true, lasting, everlasting love comes only from God above, and not from the ring we wear on our finger. Our commitment to God is what will see us through those times of sadness, disappointment, weakness, or anything else life dishes out.
A marriage that is bound by Christ is one that will keep it happy, not just on the surface but deep down in our hearts where the Savior dwells.