A couple from our church celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on Sunday by renewing their vows during our morning service. When we mentioned the upcoming ceremony to my husband’s parents last week, my mother-in-law responded immediately with, “Oh, how awful!” She and my father-in-law argued that renewing vows was pointless; the promises have already been made, the ceremony changes nothing. They’re right, but I completely disagree with them, and not only because disagreeing makes for more interesting dinner conversation. I don’t get too excited about typically “romantic” activities; candlelit dinners make it hard to see my food and picnics by a river take too much organising and it’s hard to tell flies that you’re kind of on a date and they’re not welcome. But show me a bride walking down the aisle with her proud father beside her and I will be choking back tears within microseconds. I love me a wedding.
Well, it turns out I love love love me a re-wedding, when the couple has proven, over 40 years, that they really do mean what they’re promising. There are few things more romantic than two people, having battled monsters and lived and loved together for FORTY YEARS, standing up and declaring, “If I had to make this decision again, I’d totally still choose you.” On Sunday, the “groom” cried, the “bride” cried, I was a mess. It was wonderful.
I was thinking that it’d be cool if re-commitment ceremonies were bigger events than the original wedding, if not equally large and normal. We usually get together at the starting line to witness the initial vow-exchanging, the tying of their middle legs together, and then we send the couples on their ways and hope the rope will stay tightly knotted and that they’ll make the distance. I really like the idea of a bunch of friends and family getting together at various points along the way to cheer and high five the couple for making it that far (three-legged running can be difficult!), to check that the ties are still strong and to encourage them to run on well.
I’m terrible at remembering birthdays, and even worse at knowing wedding anniversary dates. The only one I know, besides my own, is my dad’s, and that’s only because he had the good sense to marry on New Year’s Eve. I want to make more of an effort to celebrate these milestones with other couples and to be someone who gets just as teary over a beautiful marriage as I do over a beautiful wedding. I want to remind myself often that a smooth journey means working hard with my husband to keep in step (running while tied doesn’t work if one person strains ahead while the other lags behind), and to never be satisfied with an awkward or limping journey for us. And I want to continue to be someone who’s honest about my own marriage so that many others realise they’re valued members of our support crew and that we really like cheers and high fives and rope-checks.
My husband and I realised on Sunday afternoon that it was the anniversary of the day we started dating, seven years ago. I hope and pray that on our 40th wedding anniversary, in 35 years’ time (!), our rope will still be tightly tied, we’ll have long-ago eased into a comfortable pace alongside one another, and that we’ll be able to wholeheartedly declare that, if we were to accidentally fall into a time-machine and find ourselves 40 years younger, we’d show up and make the same vows all over again.