Half my life ago, I married my husband.
That sentence will become true next August. I did the math: late in August, there will come a day when I will have been married just as long as I was single. And then, the day after that, I will have been married the majority of my life.
It’s strange to think about. Stranger still to think back to our wedding day. We were young and hopeful and smiling. Me, the poet, marrying him, the musician: the perfect blend, we hoped, of lyric and melody.
We knew, back then, that I was the one for him. That he was the one for me. And we said as much in our vows, standing in a chapel in front of our family and friends. We knew love. We knew trust. We knew that whatever the next years held, we wanted to enter them together.
We knew so much. And at the same time, so little. There were so many things we didn’t know. How could we, until we lived them?
We didn’t know, for example, the ways our past wounds would smolder beneath the surface and then flare in the worst possible moments, igniting fear when we needed courage, kindling suspicion when we needed trust.
We didn’t know the ways adding children into the mix would increase the crucible’s fire, and test our character in the unrelenting daily litany of a child’s many needs.
We didn’t know the ways financial pain chips away at confidence, sends tendrils of doubt deep into the soil of faith, and if a couple is not vigilant, those tendrils grow and expand and wreak havoc, like tree roots under a sidewalk, cracking the cement.
We didn’t know any of that—and so many other things. We didn’t know all the insidiously tailor-made methods the enemy would use to tempt us to turn away from instead of toward one another. All the ways he would tempt us to go it alone and shut God out.
How could we have known, until we lived them?
But even then, even with all we didn’t know on that day we married, we knew this: we knew that marriage takes three people: the man, the woman, and God.
I knew that my husband would fight to provide for and protect me. (And to watch the ways—both large and small—that he has done this has been to watch the powerful shaping of a man and to hear the rising music of his song.)
My husband knew that I would fight to trust his heart. (And to watch the ways—both large and small—that I have done this has been to watch the dynamic shaping of a woman and to feel the growing rhythm of her poetry.)
We knew that the both of us would fight to lean our lives against our God. (And to watch the ways—both large and small—that we have done this has been to watch the miraculous shaping of a marriage and to know the compelling power of our dance.)
Even then, we knew these things. And before our wedding day, we worked together to write a song. And though we asked others to sing the duet, it was our prayer.
“May I be the music to your words,” he sang.“May I be the poetry in your song,” I replied.
And then together: “May our lives be a hymn of praise to the One who has called us here today.”
We had no idea of the obstacles and temptations ahead that would try to shatter our commitment. But we knew even then that marriage takes three, and that in marriage, the man, the woman, and God would be woven together in mysterious and inexplicable beauty. We knew that from that day forward, everywhere I went, I would carry my husband’s music. And everywhere he went, he would carry my poetry. And together, we would carry within us the Spirit of God who is both Word and Song.
That knowledge—it lends a person strength in the dark nights of grief and conflict and pain. The knowledge that my husband will fight to provide for and protect me and that I will fight to trust his heart, and that the both of us together will lean our lives into this invisible God who whispers and roars his love into our souls and somehow makes us one.
It’s not magic, that knowledge. But the strength of it can carry a woman half her life and counting.
Kirsten Wilson teaches at Colorado Christian University. She’s attended Flatirons for six years, and facilitates groups at Shift on Friday nights.