With two decades of marriage to my husband, Rich, under my belt, I've learned marriage is a wondrous mix of joy and sorrow. Rich and I have struggled through the challenges of raising teenagers, battling cancer, surviving a layoff, losing a sibling, undergoing a relocation that didn't pan out, and a number of other ups and downs. We've been childish, selfish, and said things we both regret. Those are the times when we grit our teeth and hold tight to the commitment we made before God, friends, and family so long ago.
The truth is, Rich and I don't have a perfect marriage because we're imperfect people. We each entered into our union with unique baggage and unrealistic expectations that still crop up after all the years. But if given the opportunity, I'd marry Rich again in a heartbeat.
There are so many reasons why I treasure this wonderful, God-given gift of marriage—from the silly to the sublime to the deeply spiritual. Here are five that might help you celebrate being married to your mate.
1. Exclusive Membership
There's a Woody Allen flick from the '70s titled Annie Hall, in which actress Diane Keaton plays Annie, the sweetly offbeat, goofy girlfriend of Allen's nerdish, neurotic character, Alvy Singer. Two similar movie scenes speak volumes about relational chemistry. In the first, Annie and Alvy go on a beach getaway and decide to cook a live lobster. Allen goes into his manic shtick as they attempt to toss the lobster into boiling water, and Annie joins right in. The rapport between the two is obvious. Fast-forward several scenes later: Annie and Alvy have broken up, and Alvy's taken his new date to the beach house. Once again, Alvy goes into comic overdrive about boiling a lobster—while his date stares at him as if he's some alien. She just doesn't relate to him.
These scenes from Annie Hall demonstrate the importance of finding someone who gets you—quirks and all. And that's one of the great things about marriage! You enjoy the privileges of a club in which you and your spouse are the only members. After all, no other human being knows better what I like, what I worry about, what I cry over, and most importantly, what makes me laugh, than my husband—and vice versa.
While Rich can't read my mind, he does know how to read my body language. He knows the particular glance I use at social functions that says, I'm ready to book out of here immediately! He recognizes the powerful phrase we always use as an ice-breaker after an argument: "Do you love me anyway?" Together Rich and I have coined funny nicknames for ourselves, our kids, even our dog ("triangle head"—don't ask). We have private jokes that crack us up—and only us. Through the years, we've created an elaborate context of Rich-and-Jane-isms that demonstrate one way we've become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). After all, part of what binds you together are the unique looks, gestures, phrases, and memories you build together.