The doors opened and there was Adam, waiting for me at the altar, beaming from ear to ear. As the music started I began my walk toward him. I remember thinking that I wasn’t just covering a physical space, this length of an aisle, but it was a spiritual walk. I was walking toward my greatest adventure, toward a life of good times and bad, in sickness and in health. And at the end of this walk I would be giving my life away, to that man, right there, and I’d never get it back.
Before me was my future, while behind me was my entire life up until that point: the little girl playing dress up, the teen on the basketball court and the college girl wondering when she’d meet “the one.”
Behind me was also my veil. My beautiful, long, cathedral-length veil. As I walked toward Adam I also remember thinking, “Please don’t let my veil fall off, please don’t let my veil fall off, please don’t let my veil fall off.” Unpredictably, the tulle of my veil was catching on the dorm-like carpet of the church and at any moment I worried the comb would get yanked from my hair.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen. However, it was the first of many distractions of the day. It was a fight to stay focused and to soak in the moments. I encountered so many things that tried to pull my gaze from Adam. I worried if we’d have enough time after the ceremony to take more photos before the photographer’s contracted time ended. When the power went out at the reception due to a storm I worried if people were still having a good time. One of my biggest embarrassments occurred as we were leaving the church, when I was more concerned about getting soaked in the rain than celebrating my marriage to my beloved. (And to my dismay, that moment was caught on tape!)
But I also did so many other things right that day. I prayed intensely during our ceremony, asking the Lord to bless and strengthen our love, thanking God for the gift of Adam. I remember looking out over our guests, trying to remember their faces, trying to remember the gratitude I was feeling at their presence. I remember the booming clap of thunder and the simultaneous laughter from the congregation when the priest prayed that we’d be blessed with children. I remember our 20-minute solitary car ride from the church to the reception hall, Adam and I taking the time to revel in our new one-ness, remarking to one another that we were finally “locked in.”
I’ve come to realize that in many ways that day was just a microcosm of what would happen in marriage. My marriage to Adam is filled with so much goodness and so much joy, but if I’m not attentive to him and our love, it can quickly become one of frustration and sadness. Each day there are distractions trying to turn us away from the other. Some of these distractions are ultimately good, like caring for our children. Others are just plain being too busy. Either way, if I allow them to take precedence over my husband’s needs, then I’m not being faithful to my vows to love and honor Adam.
But the distractions I find most troublesome are those that tear at the root of our love, trying to undermine our very vows to give our lives to each other. These distractions try to turn my outward gaze on Adam to an inward gaze on myself. These distractions are temptations to put all of the focus on my needs, my wants, to complain and tally up all the ways I am sacrificing. How often am I tempted to turn my loving gaze into a critical one, comparing my husband’s weaknesses and faults with those of my friends’ husbands?
Just like on our wedding day I must fight to dismiss these distractions, not worrying about who my husband isn’t, but loving who my husband is. I shouldn’t complain about what my marriage isn’t, but give thanks for what my marriage is. Just like that day I also do things right. I praise my husband for his hard work and his wisdom. We take time for date night and trips away. I inquire about his day, curious about what’s on his heart, so that I may know him more intimately, so that I may share in his joys and sorrows, his struggles and successes. I take all three kids on trips to the grocery store, even when it would easier to go alone, so that he can have some downtime to himself. I apologize when I’m wrong or when I hurt Adam’s feelings. We’re currently doing a scripture study together, solely focused on our wedding vows, hoping to come to a deeper understanding and appreciation for our marriage. And just the other day, as I stood over the garbage gagging as I emptied old food from the fridge, I turned to Adam and said, “This is how much I love you.”
And oh how I love that man so very much. Next month we will celebrate six years of marriage. Every day hasn’t been blissful, but every year has been joyful. There have been many distractions, starting all the way back with those on July 17, 2010 (and I’m sure there will be many in the future), but with effort, sacrifice and lots of redirection, we’ve been able to keep our focus on one another, our love, and the promises we made to each another and God on our wedding day.