Chris and I wanted to write a long post together about our marriage over the last decade after our surprise wedding re-do on The Meredith Vieira Show last week, but his post (without my input) is so thoughtful that I wanted to share it, unedited, in its entirety.
It's been a week since our MVS episode aired. I had a lot of thoughts and concerns going into it, and I wanted to share some things now that it's aired. First off, we had a great time. The show's crew and staff were very friendly. It was our first time in NYC. Although it was a short trip, it was a fun taste of the city. We'll be sure to make it back sometime to take it all in.
The show itself was a bit of a surprise for us. We weren't expecting a re-do. A wedding is a serious matter. So serious, in fact, that I once remarked to a friend that they are a one-per-customer type of deal. In another conversation, that same friend recounted a story about a lavish wedding for what became a short-lived marriage. The ephemeral groom, despite the divorce, said that it was a great wedding. The friend responded that what makes a wedding good is when your marriage ends as your body is laid in the earth. That may not be sufficient measure of a successful marriage, but it is a necessary condition. Furthermore, there is the issue of the gravity of wedding vows made before God, family, and friends. My biggest concern was that all of this would be reduced to an insipid cute fest for the daytime TV audience. I believe this wasn't the case, but more on that later.
One thing that Meredith said which stuck out to me was that we deserved a re-do. I strongly disagree here. She didn't know our full marriage story, so neglecting the points above, it's an understandable statement. The story of our marriage has helped me to see how amazing God's grace is as He is making all things new, even us. On top of that, there are certainly people who had true disaster weddings. The wedding mishaps, real or perceived, didn't feel that way, even if the accumulated impact of all those things was big. On top of that, while we were happy to celebrate ten years of marriage, it's those who have been married forty, fifty, or sixty years that I truly admire. Meredith's own marriage is admirable for their persistence through adversity.
The first time I said "I do" my heart was mixed with fear and happiness. I was afraid of what I was stepping into. I knew that marriage would change everything, but I most feared my loss of self. Before we had children, I said and did things in our marriage which are definitely not fit for daytime TV. These are difficult things that we discuss over meals and coffee with friends instead. But I've learned to give myself away because of the one who gave his life for me and who gives me himself. Another wedding story: we once went to a wedding where the minister spoke of laying down our lives for one another. While it is true that I will probably never be called to actually die for the sake of our marriage, there is a daily death by degrees as I lay down my will. While this may make marriage sound daunting and macabre, what other sense is there of laying down one's life? However, as God has renewed our marriage and grown our family, I have experienced greater joy in Him as I'm learning to stop seeking my will to be done. There's a funny thing about how getting what we want rarely turns out to be as good as we expected. Instead, as I seek to love and serve my wife and children and put their needs and wants above mine, my life has turned into one I wouldn't trade for a second. On the contrary, I fear that the current climate views marriage as two individuals remaining autonomous and the marriage stands or falls based on how long or well they can maintain some commonality. Marriage has become loaded with nearly unbearable expectations and is about self fulfillment and happiness, and we want to stand against such views.
This leads me back to the TV show. Instead of exchanging vows, were asked to tell each other three things to celebrate our life together. I would choose Indiana a thousand times over again if I was going to re-do my marriage. I'm humbled that our story was chosen. There were certainly many dark days since our wedding, but things have changed so much in the last few years. This was a reminder that everything sad will become untrue one day as everything is redeemed and made new.
In closing, we had a wonderful time on the show celebrating our marriage, but despite all the things that went wrong at our wedding, we're glad that we did have our family and friends there and we were able to make our vows in front of God and them ten years ago. Thank God life is about how you finish and not how you start.
Here are some resources I have found helpful in our marriage:
It's a miracle that we made it to ten years but ten years isn't that long, so we hope for many more years together.
All of this. I agree.
I do want to say one thing that I said over and over again in the taped segment, but that got edited, though. My mother-in-law planned our wedding and rehearsal dinner and made it happen, and I am so thankful for her and her hard work. I was in college when we got married, and my family dynamics were a little (a lot?) tricky and she graciously offered to plan and cover everything for us, thus saving Chris and me from five months of pre-marital fighting... er... I mean wedding planning. Now that it's ten years removed, I see what a big deal that was. I don't know if we ever properly thanked her.
Chris hired the dj, I chose my dress and flowers, and everything that went wrong was no fault of my mother-in-law's. We did not think our wedding needed a re-do because of anything she planned, but we did recognize that some crazy things went down. I kept singing my mother-in-law's praises on tape so that the world would know that we appreciated her, but it was hard for the show to fit that bit of info into their narrative. Nonetheless, I think it's important that y'all know that my mother-in-law is awesome. I mean, she planned an entire wedding for me in the pre-Pinterest days! I'm still so thankful, and I hope that one day I can be as gracious and generous as a mom / mother-in-law as she is.