Before I was married my Mother gave me this little paper jewelry box. The artist's signature on the back says it was made in England in 1988. It is hand painted and relatively fragile. I have managed to keep it in very good condition for better than 20 years. A piece of me considers this box an indicator of how fragile and precious I consider my marriage. I have managed to keep them both intact for 20 years.
So, the Greek saying goes:
Love is blind
but marriage restores its sight.
I keep my favorite piece of jewelry in this box...
When my Mother first gave it to me I thought what a pretty little box and what an interesting little saying... what does it mean? Every once in a while, when I open the box to get out this necklace I think back on the saying and the day my Mother gave me this box. I knew my Mother, having been married at 18 and divorced at 25 and then remarried again at 26, knew more than a little about marriage. When I got married she was 45, the same age I am now. She did not steer me away from marriage, but she did provide some words of advice and caution. I know that I listened, but I know I could not have absorbed but a small percentage of her words... sometimes it is hard to understand the advice of others when you have no frame of reference. It is hard to understand until you have lived it.
I was 26 and Michael 25 when we got married in 1989. We had known each other for 5 1/2 years and had been engaged for 4 1/2 years. We had lived together, but more importantly our relationship had survived three significant long distance intervals. I have to say though, taking into consideration the track record of three of our parents and also the pressure from one set of parents and their opinion that we were still not ready, that it was not a coincidence that I chose Nat King Cole's 'Too Young' as one of our wedding songs:
"... this love will last though years may go
and then some day they may recall
we were not too young at all."
-Words by Sylvia Dee
Well, we are not young any more and nearly 20 years have come and gone and I am looking from a completely different perspective now, but I can say that I am happy and proud of my marriage and the level of serious hard work that has gone into it. It is a true accomplishment of strength, will, compromise and understanding that has brought me to this day. Some of my favorite quotes are about marriage:
"Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle."
"Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry."
I believe I know what the Greek saying in the little hand painted box means--now. I understand that marriage is the ultimate challenge of a person's ability to truly love another human being. I understand that love is grand, but that marriage is the practical side of things, the side that tests your every emotion. Its an agreement that challenges your ability to keep promises and respect another person's soul. That there is no perfect mate, or perfect marriage. It is hard work, but provides an amazing reward.
As most of you know, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary this summer, but aside from an exciting trip to Rome and a cruise of the Greek Islands, we will celebrate a comfortable place in our lives of peace and happiness. We celebrate the health of all six of our parents and the beautiful faces of all our nieces and nephews and their parents, we celebrate all our siblings near and far, we celebrate our two teenage children and their amazing accomplishments as they take their journey through life, we celebrate the pets that make us smile every day as we look into their furry faces. We celebrate a love we have shared and a marriage that has succeeded.
"After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her."
-Adam, in Adam's Story by Mark Twain