On Friday it’s our ten year wedding anniversary. TEN YEARS. For some of you this will seem like forever, to others, a drop in the ocean. For me it’s both. We’re a billion years from the couple that poddled down the aisle: I look back at photos and it’s like a different person.(In part because I was. Thanks to the folks at Wonderbra my chest could have been arrested under the trade descriptions act. My thinking was, by the time Glen finds out, it’ll be too late).
In other ways, it feels like Glen and I have known each other for ever. We met at uni and I’d like to say there was an instant attraction, but both of us were dating other people. I was good friends with his then-girlfriend and told her she could do A Lot better.
Whatever Glen’s mum says, this was not a ploy. Or a joke. It was years before we got together and it happened by email (he’d just been deported). One plus of long distance: it forces you to talk. There’s no snogging through the awkward silence. This is how old we are: when we started ‘courting’ , FACEBOOK HAD NOT BEEN INVENTED.
Here’s where I dispense godly wisdom.
– there are loads of great books on the topic, (Tim Keller’s marriage talks are brilliant).
People told us that ‘the first year of marriage is the hardest’. First year was tricky, but the next nine were harder. Depression and eating disorders and infertility and a whole host of other stuff we didn’t plan. If I could go back in time, you’d think I’d shake Glen and say ‘Run mate; run for your life’. Truth is: I’d marry him again in a heartbeat. And he’d do the same. But it hasn’t looked like it does on the big screen.
A friend of mine is tying the knot soon, and says it has ruined cinema-going for him forever. As a single man, he has always identified with the swashbuckling protagonist …but there are no married heroes. Celluloid klutz or collateral damage: that’s the options. Producer David Puttnam puts it like this: ‘The most important reason stars tend to be stars is that on screen, they carry our dreams. Unsurprisingly, they’re attractive, charming. We want them to be our image of ourselves’.
I thank God for Glen and the gift of our relationship. But it’s a gift, not a necessity. It’s a wonderful thing – but it’s not what gives life purpose: any more than children or career or anything else. We do look for heroes and happy ever-afters; but we won’t find them in our other halves, no matter how special. One of the best things that’s happened in our marriage was reaching the point where we failed the other.
‘I love you – but you are not and can never be my Saviour’.
Once this happened, something shifted. Instead of looking to the other, we started looking to the Lord. And that’s when the real bridegroom showed up.