This ain’t no love letter.
Today, my husband Guy and I have been married for eleven years. We have no plans. When our ten-year anniversary rolled around last year, we had no plans. The year before? No plans. If there is one thing my close friends know about me, it’s that I’m a planner by nature. I like to look forward to things, sort out the details in advance, and have something to look forward to. For many years, I expected my husband to bear the weight of fostering romance in our marriage and making our anniversary special.
But that rarely happened.
True to years past, Guy came to me last week and wanted to know if we could do something for our anniversary today. Unfortunately, it’s not in the budget at this late date to try and get dinner out or hire a babysitter so we can grab a coffee. And honestly, it just feels like an afterthought--not exactly what I was going for. I’d love to say that I handle these kinds of disappointments in marriage with total grace and with a shiny happy attitude, but that would be a lie.
It makes me sad when the day of our wedding vows comes and goes like any other. It’s true, I could flip the switch and be the organizer. Of course, Guy could very well say the same thing about me—why have I not been the one to put the effort in to celebrate our marriage? Call me old school. I still have those romantic Disney ideals that my prince will invite me to the ball. I could spend today lamenting his lack of forethought and he could do the same about my self-focused tendencies. We both would lose.
It’s natural to consider what love is on our anniversary. God tells me that love is patient. It’s kind. It keeps no record of wrongs and it certainly is not selfish. I know full well in my heart that love bears all things. My anniversary is far less about celebrating the amazing romantic love between a man and a woman and far more like making choices to commit in the midst of human frailty and a willingness to shift expectations.
As I ponder what it means for me to honor the vows I made eleven years ago, I realize that the thing I felt the most on my wedding day was hope. Hope that I would have a family, that my husband and I would be faithful, and that God would use us to be an example of His love to the world. And that’s exactly what I’ve got. My family brings me much joy, Guy and I have never dishonored our pledge to be each other’s one and only, and when God chose the Church as His bride, He loved her unconditionally and He loved her in her brokenness. That’s what you get with me and Guy. Two people willing to keep on keeping on, even when disappointment comes.
Today, I have a choice to wallow in regrets or focus on my blessings. It’s not a cliché. Despite the lackluster acknowledgement of our anniversary, I know that my joy is not bound by an earthly wedding ring, it’s bound in my Heavenly Bridegroom. I can’t help but imagine that there are other husbands and wives today who feel let down by their spouses. The love letters never made it past the dating days. Special occasions come and go with far too little commemoration. The most loving thing we can do is to love others with the kind of love we want for ourselves. That’s how God loves me. Even when I’m unlovely. And that’s how I’m going into today—remembering to love Guy by offering grace and hoping he will do the same for me.
Love letters aren’t always filled with expressions of passion and sweet sentiments. Sometimes they are honest. Sometimes, the most beautiful love letters are ones where two people commit to trying to do better next time. Instead of perfume scented pages, there is an aroma of mercy and sacrifice and a fragrance of strength despite our weaknesses. This ain’t no love letter in the traditional sense. I offer it from a heart where sadness and hope comingle, a reawakening of my own to lay aside my desires for the benefit of my husband, and to celebrate the beauty of choosing to do what is right when it would be far easier to do what is wrong. It may not set our hearts afire, but it’s a love letter, all the same.