Thursday, June 21, 2012

32 Years of Heaven

My lovely wife and I celebrated 32 years of wedded bliss yesterday. Well, most of the 32 years was bliss, anyway. Well, some of the time, anyway – interspersed with diaper changes, sick kids, money troubles, grad school, stress from career building, family moves, births of seven children, death of parents, teenage squabbles, home improvement disasters, personal foibles, frustrations and forgiveness.

The fact is I have no idea what a perfect marriage is. Is it one in which there’s never a raised voice? Never a disagreement? Or is it one in which there are disagreements that, once resolved, drive deeper harmony and understanding? Is it one without money trouble, health problems, teenage surliness, non-sleeping toddlers? Or is it one in which all those things exist and somehow Mom and Dad sleepwalk their way through it together?

On a talk tape that circulated through my mission, Hartman Rector tells of meeting a cabbie in a large North American city. As a prelude to asking the golden questions, he asked the cabbie if he were married, and the cabbie said yes. Elder Rector asked if the cabbie loved his wife, and the cabbie said yes. Elder Rector asked why, and the cabbie said, “Because of what we’ve been through together.”

That message is firmly planted in my brain, especially after what my lovely wife and I have been through together. Our shared experiences, good and bad, have made our union what it is. I remember sitting together on a clear night in Valencia, Venezuela, thinking how cool it was to be in this exotic place with the woman I love. And I remember sitting in the ER with my four year old daughter as she had her broken arm set, thinking how fortunate I was to have my lovely wife share that experience, too.

I can say without reservation that I do love my wife more today than ever – certainly more than the day I married her, because when I married her we had not yet been on this long roller coaster of life.

I recall looking with my bride into those “eternal mirrors” in the sealing room of the Logan Temple, unable at the time to conceive what one week of married life would be like. Had we foreseen what was to come, who knows what we might have done differently. Maybe we would have waited longer to have children. Maybe we would have made different educational choices. Maybe, maybe, maybe. In the end, it doesn’t matter much what we might have done. We did what we did and we are where we are.

Ok, so maybe not every moment of the last 32 years has seemed like heaven. Unless heaven is going to work every day at a job that isn’t necessarily my favorite, but which is by all standards a great job, and one which I’m extremely fortunate to have. Unless heaven is living with the reality that half my kids disagree with me on the things that are most important to me in my life, and yet they are still willing to sit around my dining table when they are home. Unless heaven includes surgeries and pregnancies and illness and recoveries. Unless heaven includes seasonal bouts with depression, or at least discontent, and seasons of happiness and even joy. Unless heaven includes wondering how to pay all the bills some months and the recognition of God’s hand in our resources over time.

I wouldn’t trade those 32 years with anyone. Because I’ve shared them with my best friend.


  1. Having been married for only a few years I realize married life wasn't going to be happy and perfect. I will admit it was shocking. I don't know why it shocked me if I clearly remember seeing my parents argue and walk through their trials. I guess I thought my life was headed to a Disney Happily Ever After. Sometimes it's hard for me to be grateful for trials as we pass through them, but ultimately I am grateful that all along my husband was there with me.

    Happy Anniversary! Thanks for showing us how marriages can bring about the deepest joy even after all the trials and tribulations that come with life.

  2. What a lovely tribute. I have been married 11 years and we have gone through our fair share of upheaval and challenges. But I am happier now than I ever was when we were dating or first married. Life is good. :)

  3. I've written similarly about my own split-apart, to whom I've been married for 25 years.

    What is a perfect marriage? I think it's nothing more than one in which both people wouldn't trade their marriage for ANYTHING and by which two distinct beings are becoming truly united as one entity. (not exactly alike, but completing, making whole and being fully developed)

  4. Papa D, I really like this line: "What is a perfect marriage? I think it's nothing more than one in which both people wouldn't trade their marriage for ANYTHING."

    Early in our marriage, a friend asked my wife and me what makes a marriage work. My wife's answer, without hesitation, was this: "Deciding that it will work, no matter what." If both partners take that decision, I think she's right. That certainly seems to be true in ours, anyway.