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Twenty years ago today, two wide-eyed 22-year-old kids stood before their family and friends and pledged to have and to hold each other til death did them part.

They had no idea what they were getting into, but spoiler alert: they made it!

Today is my long-awaited, excitedly expected, much planned for, 20th wedding anniversary. My husband (naturally, the other of those two kids) took the day off work and we were going to spend an amazing day together while the kids were at school. Then, in May, we were going to leave on a jet plane for a second honeymoon to the place where we took our first honeymoon—Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Then, two weeks ago the world went all PANDEMIC on us.

Thanks to Coronavirus, our big 20th celebration for today is totally canceled. Our kids are home and so are we. There won’t be a romantic moment alone in sight. We can’t even go out to the fancy restaurant we made reservations for. Our trip in May? Very likely canceled as well. (That one hurts a little.)

Our marriage, however? Very much intact.

P – R – A – I – S – E !! Trust me, I do not take that for granted.

The reason we wanted to celebrate our 20th anniversary in a BIG way is because we know getting to this point is a BIG deal. We fought for it and sacrificed for it. It felt like we deserved it, I guess.

But. A virus has changed our plans, and has reminded us once again of one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about marriage in 20-years’ time: you gotta take what life throws at you and make the best of it.

RELATED: Dear Husband, I Need Us To Be a Team Now More Than Ever

Let me tell you something, Reader: it is so much easier to make the best of any situation with the man I chose by my side.

He’s my high school sweetheart, my childhood friend, my adult BFF. My confidant and my kiddos’ dad, and no matter what day it is, he makes it great. In this uncertain time, he continues to work hard to provide for our family, goes to the grocery so none of the rest of us will be exposed, and calms my anxieties when everything is so completely out of my control. He is my person.

The truth is, our 20th anniversary doesn’t matter—our marriage does.

RELATED: Marriage isn’t Making Vows, it’s Keeping Them

We don’t NEED the big celebration. (Though I still want it, do NOT get me wrong, ha!) We will make today special in a million different little ways. We will eat all three meals with our three kids, instead of going out. We will support a local business by ordering anniversary take-out while we shelter in place. We will be thankful that we are healthy and together and that we made it twenty freaking years

And it will be, like our marriage, wonderful, fun —and perfectly imperfect. Possibly a little messy, too. 

Pondering my virus-botched 20th anniversary plans got me thinking very sympathetically about all the brides whose weddings are being canceled. I got to have my big wedding, and I ache for those of you who won’t because of this global pandemic.

And yet, I feel like, if you’re in that boat, perhaps you’re starting out with an advantage. You will know something that it takes many married couples years to learn: marriage isn’t about the wedding.

It isn’t about a day, or a party, a first dance or even having everyone you love in one room.

Those of you whose weddings just went from 300 guests in a stunning venue to eight people in your mom’s backyard or three people in a courthouse will understand that implicitly, and even if you don’t realize it now, that’s a gift.

RELATED: Dear Bride, I Promise You Will Still Get Your Special Day

Marriage is about two people and God. It’s about sticking together through a lifetime full of the messy, the unplanned and unexpected, not a meticulously-planned, aesthetically pleasing party thrown on a single day. 

It took me longer than I care to admit to learn that one (my poor husband!)

When we vowed to cling to each other “in sickness and in health” I never thought that a worldwide sickness would play into our marriage. I could not have fathomed it. But here we are, celebrating the big 2-0 on literal lockdown, thankful for our health and an appropriate amount of toilet paper. And 20 years after my naive self (who had no idea what she was getting into) took those vows, I can honestly say a big “thank the Lord and hallelujah” that I get to be locked down with the man I chose then, and every day since.

Happy Quarantined Anniversary, my love!

Jenny Rapson

Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.

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