I've been sitting here listening to Alabama's Greatest Hits, getting all sappy, thinking back to another Friday the 13th almost 30 years ago when I said "I do"...
... and thinking even further back to that night at Gilley's just a year earlier when Alabama sang "Feels so right..." and Tom and I were the only ones on the dance floor...
We weren't really the only ones dancing, of course, but it felt that way, and it already felt so right being there in his arms, just twenty-four hours after seeing his face for the very first time.
It felt so right that if you had told me back then there would be days in the next 31 years when we didn't know if we'd make it, days when we didn't even like each other, I would have laughed at you.
Who knew marriage could sometimes feel like running a three-legged race in the dark over a dangerous obstacle course?
You would think that time together would help you grow stronger, to work more like a team, that the obstacles would get smaller and easier to maneuver with every passing year.
But just recently so many of our friends have gone their separate ways after decades together that I'm wondering if midlife is perhaps the biggest obstacle of them all? An avalanche of issues left lying unresolved or ignored, like child-rearing philosophies and financial stresses and unfulfilled dreams and buried jealousies and hurt feelings and wounded pride, piling up higher and higher until all it takes is a look or one sarcastic word to send it all crashing.
How does anyone survive something like that without superhuman powers?
The thing is, many do. I'm grateful we have so far. Very, very grateful.
My arsenol of secret weapons includes remembering how right it felt in those first few days... that "Oh, it's you!" realization when I first looked into his eyes... and believing with a certainty that erased all traces of agnosticism in my mind and heart that God brought us together.
However, that certainty doesn't lull me into taking it for granted our marriage will survive the obstacles still waiting for us there in the dark of the future without a fierce determination to get through them together, and plenty of secret weapons.
In fact, I think that may be another secret weapon - don't take your marriage, or your love, for granted. Ever. Period.
But the secret weapon I use the most? Prayer.
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.
~ From Kahlil Gibran on Love and Marriage
*thank you for taking this photo of us, Rae! It's still one of my favorites!