But as I stood awkwardly at the back of the decor-less, mostly-unfamiliar, silent church, none of those dreams had come to pass. I wore a cheap dress, off the rack. I straightened the tie of my Handsome for the outfit we had pieced together. We walked up to the altar, us and my beloved childhood pastor, and three witnesses. And we promised our lives away to each other before God.
We had no idea what we were doing.
On that day, the things that were absent…the things of my dreams…were just that. They were things. And on that day, they mostly didn't matter to me. I had decided they didn't matter. Because the bottom line was that those things were not attainable at that time, and all I really wanted to do was to marry the man standing there with me. And I wanted to marry him right then.
Looking back, even amidst some regrets of moving forward with such understated plans…because there are regrets over not safe-keeping our future memories with more than a couple "snapshots" of a day that comes 'round one time and one time only…but looking back, even though I have mourned the loss of that girlhood dream, I realize that perhaps the way it unfolded was a more fitting beginning for us.
This marriage adventure. The thing you have no idea about until you're in the beauty and blood and guts of it. Because, really, marriage is never what you dream it will be like either. At least that's my experience, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one. For sure there is at least one other person (and I happen to live with him) who would agree! Still there are all these things that nobody ever tells you to expect about married life. Or, maybe they do tell you, whether by words or living example, but it all just passes over your heads like a series of swift arrows shot by Cupid.
Nobody tells you how hard it is to try and live unselfishly. You don't know that after the euphoria wears off in those early days, you may have a personal identity crisis as you change all your ID cards. Furthermore, living for two really doesn't seem less expensive than living for one, and it really stinks to pay your bills and have fifteen dollars left for groceries for the next two weeks. It puts a real hammer down on the romance, if you will. You do not realize at the time, that you're marrying a sinner. And you certainly, do not realize at the time, that he is marrying the worst sinner of all. But time tells. Time shows. And when you think you're plugging along fairly well, you'll get whacked upside both your heads and have to learn it all over again at a deeper level.
In the painful moments, in the impossible and hopeless moments, whether caused by you or him or some other outside force…nobody tells you that you may feel a fleeting desire to run away. Maybe they didn't tell you,
but HE has told us,
that if you stop ranting about why you and your way is right and take the time listen carefully, sometimes even needing to strain to hear it, the One who is holding it all together anyway is whispering a way He's provided out, "so that you can stand up under it." The way out is not out of your marriage. The way out is to step out of your selfish self. The way out is to stop placing impossible expectations upon your marriage and life and spouse and self, and to instead gaze up into the only One who fulfills every dream and longing of our hearts. And this painful, hard, yet beautiful thing needs to be done over and over and over again. Refining thing, this marriage adventure.
There are other things nobody tells you, such as how incredible it is to have someone by our side whom you know will stick by you no matter what, because he has done so for 21 years. Furthermore, that you will do the same for him, because you, too, have a 21-year track record. You will choose to do this, even when you don't like each other. Because that, too, happens sometimes, and I'm sure nobody told us that either! Or if they did, we didn't believe them. Still the truth remains--nothing compares to the comfort of something constant in a constantly-changing world.
Finally, they don't tell you that at some point, you will understand you don't have to see everything eye-to-eye with this person in order to truly love-as-an-action love him and cherish him and the life you've built together. How simple it would be if we saw everything
So maybe beginning this marriage adventure with less than the dream wedding really was a more realistic beginning anyway. To begin with a fairytale would have created quite a catastrophe perhaps, when we realized marriage was much harder and much more wonderful in unexpected ways than I ever could have imagined as I swung my skinny, tan legs high up on that farmyard swing so many years ago. Perhaps it really was best to fly by our seats with good intentions and hopes for a bright future, with just a couple of special touches and a handful of people who truly loved us standing by. Or perhaps, it has just been…pure….grace.
Whatever the case, thank you for this incredible, adventurous ride, Mr. Dassow.
For all those things that we missed in the beginning, we did get one thing right--to choose to stand by each other no matter what.
With five states, five sons, adoption hopes, dreams both realized and dashed, and so many challenges and hardships and so much grace and goodness under our belts, I just can't imagine doing it all with anyone else.
I cherish you…and nobody could have told me that I'd feel like I do after twenty-one years. It really is so much better than I imagined, just in a completely different way.