My brother-in-law got married, yesterday. It was a truly beautiful and happy day celebrating the couple and the beginning of a new family. The details of the wedding, ring ceremony, and dinner were exquisite. Gold plates, twinkle lights, mountain sunsets, flower petals. It was so well planned and the results were the stuff Pinterest dreams are made of. Sweeter still were the family and dear friends who traveled from all over to share the happiness of those they love.
I’m sure it is because of where I am in life at the moment, but during the marriage ceremony and official remarks/tributes made throughout the day, I heard several times from different sources counsel about weathering the rocky places and storms of life with your spouse. Again and again I heard the counsel to cleave to one another, serve each other, and love your way through. And I remembered so many things...
We were babies ten years ago. So in love and so without a clue of what that meant or where it would take us. Since our wedding day we’ve lived in four states, completed multiple college degrees, had three children. We’ve applied for jobs we’ve gotten and many we haven’t. We’ve kept each other company at parties, reunions, funerals, and in hospital waiting rooms. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve argued, we’ve budgeted, we’ve vacationed, we’ve dreamed, and we’ve fallen in bed next to each other completely exhausted. We’ve lived a lot since our “first dance” ten years ago. We have so much living and learning left to do.
Last night I left the party early. It had been a long day, I had two rambunctious boys to put to bed, and a struggling newborn waiting at home who would need to be fed multiple times during the night. And I had a migraine that had reached “every spot of light is painful, I am literally praying I can drive home safely, all I want to do is throw up,” level. If that’s not stepping out of a fairy tale and getting back to real life, I don’t know what is.
With a healthy bit of grace and the aid of my parents who had watched our homebound baby girl so we could attend the wedding festivities, I got home and got the boys in bed before Dan walked in the door and ordered me to go to sleep. I obeyed. And although he was exhausted himself, he then took every single feeding during the night so that I could rest and get better.
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen bags under someone’s eyes like there were under his, this morning. And I don’t know if I’ve ever loved anyone more.
The scriptures say “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:24). You hear that as a new couple and you feel it in your heart, but as life goes by you become welded together in ways you never imagined. I don’t know how it works, but somehow exhaustion and pain and healing embrace become even more beautiful than flowers and glitz and special occasions. The mundane and sacred everyday somehow refines your relationship, purifies it, and makes it precious beyond price.
For about five sacred minutes this morning, we lay in bed lazy Sunday style and held each other. This is personal, but in that moment I felt my heart reach out to that man, bear hug itself around him and cling there. I feel the winds around us. I feel the stress and the tears and the hard. I feel fear and desperation. I feel the weight of all the challenges of this season—not just baby girl’s health, but the million other big life things we’re facing right now. And I feel him. My rock and friend and companion. The only one besides God who knows how I feel and what this is like.
“Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made” (D&C 25:13). I’m so glad I promised myself to this man ten years ago. I’m so grateful he promised himself to me. We are not perfect and life is not perfect, but I will cleave to him always through the beautiful and hard. Because that’s what real love is, and I’m so blessed to know it.