Early July in central Maine. A quaint inn on the edge of a large lake, where loons call out to each other at twilight. Sound nice? Native New Englanders boast of the comfortable temperatures and sunny skies during the summer months, making the lakes, ocean shores, and mountains all vacation destinations. But there are about three days during the entire summer when the clouds turn gray and misty, and the temps fall low enough for folks to break out their hooded sweatshirts from their stored winter apparel.
My wedding day was on such a day.
The photographer took far too long, and the limo driver got lost. I watched in quiet disappointment as my beautiful bridesmaids sat in the drizzle, shivering on the boat that would take us to the reception, throwing back champagne like shots in a vain attempt to keep warm, using the superfluous sashes from David’s Bridal as makeshift scarves around their bare shoulders. Thank heaven weddings are but for a day.
They say rain on your wedding day is good luck. At the very least, it’s really hard to untie a wet knot.
We were just two college sweethearts, with only a humble, one-bedroom apartment to store our newly acquired china, both of us without well-established careers, and only a vague notion of what it meant to be a mature adult.
It was not the merging of two powerful kingdoms, sealing the security of riches for generations.
It was not the merging of two influential families, with time and tradition solidifying our position in society.
It was not a grand business merger of wealth and ideas, with pure ambition as the driving force.
It was a humble start-up.
There was no major gift of inheritance, no political power handed over, no property passed on.
And yet, it was golden.
If we’re perfectly honest with ourselves, every wedding celebrates a start-up. Because a married couple isn’t the extension of their respective families. They are their own entity, a new creation, a tender seedling pushing its way through the soil. A married couple writes the first chapter of their own novel. Not a sequel.
And if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s situation is any indication, don’t we all prefer a start-up to a merger? Don’t we love the stories of those who overcame the odds, who fought to preserve their relationship, who refused to relent to outside pressures and uphold their love because they knew it was sacred? These are the couples with grit, and these are the stories that inspire.
As a couple, we eventually came to realize this marriage thing is the most valuable asset we have on this side of Heaven. There have been times when we have had to huddle together in a metaphorical cave, waiting out the storms of life that raged outside: financial distress, disappointments and disapprovals, pressures and pinching points . . .
The only refuge was in each other’s arms.
If you get to the point where you and your spouse realize you are all each other has . . . that’s when the dance really begins.
Because marriage is the dance of a lifetime. You need to have a stout heart and light footing, ever ready to adjust your balance.
You learn the nuances of the music: one leads and the other follows, and then the beat changes and suddenly the other takes the lead.
You inevitably step on each other’s toes, you holler in pain, and then you pause . . . and begin again.
You learn to dance while balancing new life in your arms.
You learn to hold each other a little tighter when life passes away.
You learn to dance a little slower so your little ones can sway with the music while clinging to your legs.
You watch with an impossible combination of pride and heartache as these same little ones learn to dance farther away from you before returning to the shelter of your embrace. Because you know the day will come when they will lead their own dance altogether.
And as your muscles tire, you dance closer than ever before, even holding each other up for balance, cherishing the music while it lasts.
My marriage is a start-up, and even though we may not look like the most talented or artistic couple on the dance floor, we will keep dancing with fire in our eyes and fervor in our hearts.
Previously published on the author’s blog