We met when we were 16. We married at 19. We were way too young.
As a young bride, I had grand images of what marriage would be – living every day of my life with the cutest guy that I’d ever known. The butterflies in my stomach would fly around unfettered for the rest of my life.
I would lay on my bed and dream of waking up beside him every day – forever. Butterflies.
We would walk hand-in-hand and talk about our wedding day. Butterflies.
He would pull into my driveway for Sunday dinner with my family. Butterflies.
We would talk on the phone until the wee-hours of the morning. Butterflies.
On September 27, 1991. We said “I Do.” He cried as we exited the sanctuary. When I said, “Why are you crying?” He looked at me with tear-filled eyes and said, “This is the best day of my life.” Butterflies.
As a young couple, he worked at Wal-mart and I worked at Kroger. We had no money. Bills piled up. Our electricity was shut off more times than I can count and we survived on mac-n-cheese and ramen noodles. We had a Nintendo. He loved the Nintendo. I hated it. I wanted friends. He wanted solitude. I put our first Christmas tree up alone. That made him angry.
I would work all day and come home to dirty laundry and piled up dishes. The Butterflies Died.
He would work all day and come home to a sulking wife, so he played the Nintendo. The Butterflies Died.
We would look at our bank account and then at the stack of bills. The Butterflies Died.
Our phone got cut off because I ran up too large of a bill calling long distance. The Butterflies Died.
At some point in our first year of marriage, we got into a huge argument. In my anger I tore my wedding rings off my finger and threw them at him, said something nasty and left. When I returned, he was playing Nintendo, my rings were still on the floor where they landed. He simply said, “Don’t ever do that again.” I picked up my rings, and have never done that again.
It didn’t take long. Marriage killed the butterflies.
We’ve been married 22 years and very quickly I had to realize that marriage isn’t about butterflies. It’s about commitment.
22 years ago, when I walked down that aisle, I made a commitment to love, honor and cherish this man until death do us part. There have been many times over the years that I’ve had to remain true to that commitment in the midst of anger, hurt, and dry seasons of our marriage. Without butterflies, we’re left to rely on the strength of our own character, the tenacity of the fighter within us and our belief in God’s covenant design for marriage.
For me, marriage is very simply summed up in two verses in the Song of Solomon:
Song of Solomon 8:6 & 7, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.”
Our Hearts Are Sealed
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm…” When we commit to love, honor and cherish someone, our hearts are sealed. They belong to one and one alone. This means that our eyes no longer wander, we no longer entertain thoughts, conversations or ideas of another. We are sealed to our spouse – forever.
This Thing is Forever
“For love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave…” or in the MSG version, “Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell…” Our commitment and love will face danger and death. However it’s our job to work at keeping our passions for one another alive. Jealousy for the heart of our spouse should burn within us… to the point of pursuit. We will pursue their heart, always. This love, this partnership, this marriage is forever – it’s til’ death do us part.
We Will Stop at Nothing
“Its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame…” or in the MSG version, “The fire of love stops at nothing – it sweeps everything before it.” The day we say, “I Do.” We decide to stop at nothing for our love, our marriage, our family. Yet, somewhere along the way throwing your wedding rings and leaving becomes easy; unless we simply make a decision to never do that again. No argument will win. No season of dryness will take over. No hurtful comment will be the last straw. We will stop at nothing when it comes to our love.
We Work At It
“Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it.” There will be many, MANY things that make marriage difficult. There will be many, MANY times that we feel like we are drowning and just need out. But, if we’re really sealed, truly understand forever, and are prepared to stop at nothing – there’s not anything that can quench our love. We will work at it, we will swim harder, we will float when we’re too exhausted to swim and we will fight for our relationship because it’s worth it.
What We Attain Is Priceless
“If a man would give for love, all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.” or in the MSG version, “Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold – it’s not to be found in the marketplace.” We can go out looking for something better than covenant love. But we won’t find it. The beauty of real, true love is only found in commitment. Sticking with it in hard times. Staying together when everything and everyone is trying to pull you apart. Loving your spouse at their ugliest moment. Feeling your spouse’s love for you, even at your ugliest moment. What we attain is priceless.
Yes, marriage killed the butterflies but it gave me something much better – real, true love. It’s awesome when the butterflies come back for a visit – and, they still do. But, I don’t need them in order to know that this man that I said “I Do” to 22 years ago is the single most important person in my life – forever.
What is marriage to you?
What are your favorite verses about marriage?