Thirteen years ago today, plus a week or so, I asked my boss Harry for a week of vacation. He gave me a strange look (because I hardly ever used vacation time) and said, "Are you getting married?"
I had to shush him... my girlfriend's own mother didn't even know! But that Sunday morning I picked her up as though we were going to church like always, and when I brought her back a week later, she was my wife. We spent part of that Sunday driving from Tulsa to Arkansas, where we could easily get married in a little wedding chapel we had found out about on the Internet (after all, we had met on the Internet!), and then we spent another hour or two waiting at McDonald's because our County Clerk was out brush hogging his property instead of waiting around for us to be late for our appointment to get a marriage license! We had written our vows earlier that day at Long John Silver's, so we kind of made the fast food circuit in little Harrison, Arkansas that day.
But despite being something we began secretly (her dad did know what we were up to, by the way, and approved of us getting married) and despite us spending way more time in fast food joints than anyone wants to spend on their wedding day, our 13-years-and-counting have been anything but a disposable, fast-food marriage. We've certainly had misunderstandings, arguments, and hurts, but we've had so many laughs, fun times, talks late at night, and so much love that every rough patch is totally worth it.
A good marriage is funny. You start out thinking you are so alike that it's impossible to imagine not being together. Then in the first years of your marriage, you realize that you are in fact not as alike as you thought, and you learn to give each other room to grow as an individual. No marriage can last if one or both of the people in it are being stifled by the other. After a while, you discover that each of you has grown into an even different person than the one you were when you got married, but the person you've grown into is hopelessly tangled up with the person you've married. There's no getting loose! You're totally stuck! ...and you wouldn't have it any other way.
A few days ago I noticed my wedding ring. It was on my finger, of course; I never take it off. But these days, I'm not usually conscious that it's there. It just is. It's part of me. It feels wrong if it's not there. That's what marriage is like when it's a good one. And that's why it's good to celebrate when you pass another yearly milestone... something that you weren't born with, something precious and valuable, has become a part of you. And that's something that deserves celebrating!