I didn’t think I wanted to get married. At least not yet. Not when I was so young. I wasn’t looking for a husband. I was looking for a career.
Marriage and family?
That could wait until after I’d put my degree to use. Maybe 28. Maybe 30. That’s when it would be time to settle down.
Those were my thoughts as a nineteen year old girl.
I knew that I wanted to get married… someday. But that someday seemed a lot farther off than the two years when I’d be standing in front of the altar exchanging wedding vows at only 21 years old.
So what changed?
My perspective on what marriage is and what marriage isn’t.
As a 21 year old bride, I realized that marriage isn’t just a season of life. It’s doing all of life… together.
Marriage isn’t just a season
The seasons of life come and go. You’ll have your college days. Your first job. Maybe a second and third. You’ll have family drama. Major Surgeries. And emergencies. You’ll raise your children. And move across the country for a job offer. You’ll have ups and downs. Every season will come to an end. But at the end of it all, your marriage will still be standing.
Your marriage isn’t just a phase. It isn’t just a season. It’s looking at someone when you’re young and in love with rose-colored glasses. It’s standing by their side when you’re raising kids at the dinner table or turning off the lights in an empty home. This is the person you want to grow old with, even when the rosy hue has faded and you no longer look as young as you used to. You will look at them with the warm weathered memories of vintage photographs.
I knew marrying Joseph wasn’t just a season. It was my life.
And, while that may seem like a more terrifying commitment, it was a relief. It meant that I didn’t have to be ready for it. As an unapologetic overachiever, it was a major relief that I didn’t have to show up prepared. I didn’t have to somehow be fully equipped to live the rest of my life. Who could be?
Was I intentional? Yes. Of course. Was I diligent throughout my teenage years to become the kind of person I’d want to marry? Yes. But there is no way any of us could prepare for the rest of our lives. This isn’t a class you can study for. This is a job description or a standardized test. This is life. And I was convinced I wanted to do it with him by my side.
An important caveat to young marriage, or marriage at any age for that matter, is that I wasn’t getting married for fringe benefits. I wasn’t getting married for security. I wasn’t getting married to feel desirable. I wasn’t getting married to fulfill a lifelong dream (in fact, like I said, I had always dreamt of getting married later in life).
I was getting married because I sincerely love Joseph, and I wanted to spend the rest of our lives doing this life together.
On the eve of our seventh anniversary, Joseph and I watched through the unedited video footage of our wedding day. In a quiet, intimate moment, away from all the hustle of the wedding day festivities, the videographers pulled us aside for individual interviews before we walked down the aisle.
With a the vulnerability of raw emotions, I looked into the camera and said exactly what I was feeling at that moment:
“I’m really nervous right now,” I said. “I don’t think anything could prepare me to be your wife. I can’t do this without you. And I think THAT is a beautiful thing. Our marriage is going to take both of us.”
Marriage is DOING ALL OF LIFE together
I firmly believe that God created marriage as the foundation upon which families and societies flourish because the selfless, others-oriented, life-giving posture of marriage is all about becoming better together. Yes, marriage ultimately brings glory to God. But part of that glory is the sanctifying power of marriage. God doesn’t ask you to marry someone that would be a detriment to your walk with Him. We are to be equally yoked, iron sharpening iron (2 Corinthians 6:14, Proverbs 27:17). A God-ordained marriage makes you stronger, better, brighter… together. It is like a refining fire that burns ever brighter for Him. And you reach a point in every relationship where you just know. You just know that you are better together (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
You know that you could wake up next to them every day. You could take on the world together. You could face the good days and the bad. The wins and the losses. The glistening beams of a sunset on the beach and the cold fluorescent lights of a hospital room. You just know that life and death and everything in between doesn’t seem so scary because they are by your side.
While the idea of just knowing seems a bit idealistic, the commitment to marriage is anything but. It’s a choice. It’s hard work. And perhaps it’s this balance between idealism and intentionality that makes love work.
You come to a point in your relationship where the only next step is marriage. There is no other form of commitment that acknowledges your lasting love and unity with another person. Marriage is unique in it’s covenantal quality. You are promising your whole life and your whole self – mind, body, heart, and soul – to someone else.
At only 21 years old, I had my whole life ahead of me. So what convinced me to get married so young? Exactly that. Marriage isn’t just a season. It’s doing all of life together. And I wanted to do it together.
Yes, I was young and at times I felt overwhelmed by the idea of being a wife, but I knew that’s the only kind of love worth living for, a love that completely overwhelms you. A love that you can’t keep neatly contained into the selfish corners of personal happiness and self actualization. And seven years later I realize that perhaps that’s the most beautiful, holy thing of a covenantal marriage. It is a love that is bigger than the two of you. It is a love that overflows into all of life… into new life… into a life lived together.
Happy 7th anniversary, Joseph.
READ ASHLEY’S OTHER ANNIVERSARY POSTS:
As we arrive at this new season with the stability of a paycheck, a house payment and a family of three, it seems we are no longer “in the waiting”. In the world’s eyes, we’ve finally arrived. This is “the moment we’ve been waiting for”, or so we are told.
My husband and I are celebrating our five year anniversary. In some ways it seems new. Like we got married yesterday. And in other ways, knowing him feels like knowing every last word to my favorite song.
My Grandma often scolds me that I do not take time “to stop and smell the roses”. She’s right. I don’t. I like to keep busy and do as much as possible. Even when I’m spending time with the people that I love, I like to squeeze in the memories and “maximize” the time. Thankfully, I’m married to a man who knows how to slow down.