Twenty years ago today I made the best and smartest parenting decision of my life. Everything else I have done to help my kids grow and thrive has paled in comparison to that decision. Twenty years ago today, I married their dad.
I am so blessed and lucky to be raising my children with such a wonderful partner. Neither of us is perfect. Neither of us has all of the answers. But we both try very hard. I know for a fact he makes me a better parent. His calm stability keeps me from flying off the edge (usually). His talents and hard work as a dad give me freedom to pursue interests outside of just family life. His trust in me has allowed me to try scary new things in raising our children- like homeschooling. The way he lives his life makes me want to be a better person. Once, when one of our children asked their dad to attend something with them rather than me, a friend asked if that hurt my feelings. I could honestly reply, “Heck no, I’d choose him too!”
As most couples, we have had our ups and downs. In thinking over the past twenty years, I can think of many reasons we have “made it” this far. We were in our mid-twenties when we married and had dated for four years. We have similar values and politics. We have been able to grow together as individuals. We support each other having different interests and friendships. We have been through difficult experiences, but not catastrophes. Neither of us wants to try to raise our crazy kids without back-up. (Just kidding. Probably.)
But the key to making it work was given to us on our wedding day, in the homily by Pastor Ron Luckey of Faith Lutheran Church. His homily is framed and in our bedroom. Here is part of what he said:
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“Today you two children of God are making a promise – tying yourself to each other with a fragile thread. A promise to love each other even in those times when you don’t like each other. To be repentant before each other. To forgive all wrongs. To stay by each other’s side. And to be faithful in all matters.
“And to do so Fall and Winter, Spring and Summer – in joy and sorrow.
“Will it be easy? Ask God. He’ll tell you from experience. It’s tough to keep a promise. There will be moments when you’ll wonder if you can do it. You’ll get tired. You’ll be too proud to say “I forgive you.” You’ll be too pig-headed to say “I was wrong.” You’ll hear the world encourage you to go looking for someone else when times are tough.
“At those times, remember. Remember the promise you made here this day. Remember the tenderness that brought you to this altar. Remember that promises are for keeps. They are timeless and total- unconditional and non-debatable. They are one of God’s finest inventions.
“And that means God has a stake in your keeping your promise. He wants to help you. He’s got lots of tricks up His sleeve He’ll share if you ask Him. “I promise” – Two of the most gorgeous words in the English language. And today you say them to each other.”
And so far, with lots and lots of help from God, we continue to say them to each other.