It is our 20th Wedding Anniversary this week. I thought that perhaps I would search the internet high and wide and find a poem that would immortalize our love. A poem that I could point at and say, Yes, that is what we have. I am not a poet. I read through these poems. These amazing works of art. My soul jumped at the beauty that was portrayed. Love displayed as passion, as longing, as yearning. As a lifelong quest. I am not a poet. I can’t create these airy pieces of lace, strung together with words. And I searched and searched. But I couldn’t find a poem for us. I am not a poet. But I long to gift you with an arrangement of words that would express our love for each other.
Our love is not the kind that is celebrated by poets.
Our love was Slow. Solid. Practical.
In a world of French Cuisine, we are meat and potatoes.
Our marriage was never about You and Me. It was always about You, Me, and the children we made. Always children present.
And yet, somehow we have managed to lift our gazes high enough, to look over the tops of our children’s heads, and still see each other.
Our love was never about extravagance and ease. It has been a constant pushing, striving, scraping, saving. Somehow miraculously taking the small amount we have and turning it into enough. And more than enough.
Our love has never contained long romantic getaways, stealing away to be alone. No, our love has been about installing a lock on our bedroom door. Whispering to each other in the middle of the night when all the children are asleep. Exchanging flirtatious glances across the dining room table. Snuggling on the couch together as small toddlers crawl all over us. Kissing and hearing a chorus of “EWW YUCK!” from the nearby children.
The most dramatic moments of our marriage have come in the form of conversations. Where I reveal to you a secret part of who I am and you reveal to me hidden parts of who you are. And the conversation slowly dies out and we stare at each other. Amazed that it is possible to know another human so deeply.
And always, the most romantic part of our week is to go to church on Sunday morning. Sit close together. Hands clasped. Stand together, lift our hands in worship. Heads bowed together in prayer. Our shoulders brushing together. Exchanging knowing looks when something significant is said that touches the problems we happen to be facing that very moment.
Ours is not a love of fireworks and showy bonfires. Ours is the slow, steady burning of coals that light the kitchen fires and cook the meals and provide a constant, steady source of warmth.
Ours is not the story of two puzzle pieces that perfectly fit together. Rather we are two rough-edged, world-scarred people who chose each other. We chose to wrap our two mismatched pieces of iron, jagged and sharp, and twist them together into one piece. Two separate, infinitely different pieces of metal, twined together by divine hands into one strong piece that cannot be broken…Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate…
I don’t have the money or the creativity to show my love in large flashy banners. Instead I show you my love in small ways. I try to leave enough hot water for your shower. I serve you a plate of food at supper instead of making you serve yourself. I speak highly of you to our children, even on days when I am irritated with you. I don’t give you any grief for staying up late to watch Fast and Furious #37. I keep your Louis L’amour books in one, easy-to-find spot on our bookshelves. I not only wash your clothes and fold them, but I also put them away. I have developed the habit of not talking about money or bills or other stressful topics right before you go to bed.
Nothing big. Just daily little considerations to let you know you are important to me. I’m thinking about you. I want you to be happy.
You do the same for me.
Our love is not the love of flowery poems. Our love is Plain. Simple. Steady.
And yet, something tells me. Something says, generations from now, our children’s children’s children, will still speak of us. They will say, That is the kind of marriage I want to have. That is the family legacy we want to pass down.
Maybe one day, my love, we will be legends.
But, the far distant future doesn’t concern me. Right now, I will simply enjoy the pleasure of sharing your bed every night. Cooking your meals. Parenting our children together.
Here’s to simple, unadorned love.
Here’s to us.