In the past week, I’ve received not one, not two, but three “save the dates” for upcoming weddings for family and friends. This isn’t a new phenomenon.
It often seems to me that wedding celebrations occur in pairs – there’s never just one. And that’s exciting: mini family reunions or connecting with friends that we no longer see every day.
But wedding celebrations are also reminders of our own marriages. Attending the ceremony, you’ll often see husbands and wives look over at one another knowingly during the service.
For better or worse – and a knowing glance gets shared as mundane habits or a recent crisis resurfaces in our minds. A small squeeze of the hand or a grin at one another as we watch the couple announced as the new “Mr. and Mrs.” We relive our own experiences, and at the same time, we pause to think about how our lives have progressed.
We remember our own early months of marital bliss. The excitement of creating a life together – of arranging our homes, making space for one another. Two toothbrushes standing side by side, the discussion of who sleeps on what side of the bed – reminders of what it was like starting to learn about the nuances of living with another person.
In those initial days, the idea of being “just the two of us” is deeply respected. Every moment together feels new and exciting.
But what happens to the idea of “just us” in the years following the wedding day? Routine sets in. If you’re like me, returning home from work initiates a new schedule: making dinner, eating dinner, Netflix or TV, bed. Physically, we’re together but mentally and emotionally, we’re oceans apart. It’s easy to get stuck in this rut, refusing to act on it.
And I think this is why weddings and the excitement surrounding them become so important. They remind us why we got married in the first place – they remind us that it really isn’t “just us.”
The wedding ceremony reminds us of our covenant with God, and that we are part of something so much bigger. There’s a reason why married couples smile a little wider and become more affectionate with one another during the reception. Love is contagious.
Why is it that we spend months or years ahead of the wedding planning for one day? I recently talked with a couple who had returned from a weekend retreat for marriage enrichment. They hadn’t chosen to attend because they believed their relationship was close to disintegration. They did it on a whim – as a sort of staycation. And what they shared made sense: they came away with a renewed focus on their commitment. They went home and, instead of binge watching the next Netflix original series, they dialogued about the goals they had for their family in the next year, in the next five years. And then they went about making a plan of action to make sure they achieved those goals.
Our lives are exhausting and chaotic. It’s easy to collapse on the couch after a long day and ignore our own lives in the blissful relief of other lives on screen. But what’s harder is reaffirming the choice that we made – before God – to love one another. Each day we should find new ways of reaffirming that choice. Marriage is not just about being together; it’s about the quality of the time we spend together. Being more purposeful and thoughtful about that makes all the difference post-Cana.
Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.