Tonight we’re going to a wedding. The little boy, Riley, who was in our wedding nearly nineteen years ago is getting married today. I’m so excited for him and his beautiful bride. I’ve known Riley since he was just a few months old. My mom baby-sat him during his infancy, toddler, preschool and kindergarten years. I was thirteen when he came into our home, and he was still there when I moved out on my own with Jim.
With two younger sisters, Riley was the closest thing I ever had to a younger brother. He was such a sweet little boy that he convinced me simultaneously that one day I would want to have kids and that I didn’t want them anytime soon. Spending five days a week with a baby (or two – we got Kim the next year) in your house during your teen years really makes you disinterested in having children too soon.
It’s weird to think that Riley is five years older than I was when we got married. I was only twenty when I got married. I had no idea how young I was. What’s even weirder is that I am the same age now that my own mother was the year I got married.
When I was twenty-five (the age Riley is now) I bought my first house down the street from his parents’ and he mowed our lawn and walked our dog when he was twelve and thirteen. People can tell you how fast life passes us by, but it only resonates when we feel it for ourselves, rushing over our ears like a flood of water. I feel the rushing when I remember holding Riley up to hit the wind chimes in our living room when he was only nine months old. He loved wind chimes.
So, on this beautiful day when we begin the month of June, little Riley, now a grown man, marries his love. As they begin their life together, here are my humble observations about a successful marriage. After almost twenty-one years together, and nineteen of them married, I think I can offer a little advice:
- Til the soil where you plant your love with equal parts self-respect and mutual respect. If you love your partner more than you respect him/her or yourself, you won’t have the nutrients or strength to sustain that love over time. The foundation matters because it supports the roots that hold the tree in place and allow it to flourish. A hungry love will starve.
- Only marry someone you don’t want to change. If you want to change your partner, change partners.
- When you first fall in love and marry, you don’t realize that the family you bring and the family you create will require you to act as a team even as it pulls you in two different directions. In sickness and in health may not only mean the couple’s sickness and health. It may mean your parents, or your children’s sickness, and you are vowing to support each other through whatever comes. When you are young, you have no idea what may be coming – I certainly didn’t!
- Laugh every single day. A day without laughter is a day where you’ve not caught your breath. Live to laugh, and you will live fully.
- On your anniversaries you’ll remember your wedding day. Make an effort to also remember your first house, your first pet, the stupid fight that you can’t remember the reason you fought, and that one walk in the park and the way the sun hit the leaves just so perfectly and you felt so completely, for the first time in your life, that you are not alone in the world.
That natural loneliness is just part of being human, and it ebbs and flows. So, in those extraordinary moments when it disappears entirely and you know you are unified with another soul, celebrate it and hold it near. That feeling doesn’t come from a wedding; it happens with the building of a life that can start with a wedding. When you stop to count those magic moments, the rushing of time pauses, the speed of life slows, and you can measure the volume of your years that seemed to speed by so quickly. That is the power of love – it makes the years you’ve lived mean more and makes you want more years.
Congratulations Riley & Alyse, may you have countless beautiful moments to treasure in a groundswell of years together.