It’s no fairy tale – amidst the laundry, a couple stays committed

Categorized as 10/03/11 Goshen News column

If marriage, then, isn’t a Disney production, the girl isn’t Cinderella, and the boy’s not Prince Charming, how does a real romance look?  It’s tricky, nailing it down when real life looks so little like its fictional counterpart.  Instead of sunsets and stallions, the romance begins with a kiss and a promise.  “I do” and “I will,” the two lovers declare before God and those assembled.  Their loved ones bear witness to the solemn vows, rejoicing in a love that melds two into one, a “profound mystery” that can only be grasped with the passage of time.  After the wedding, as someone said, comes a marriage.  Here, in the rhythm and routine of daily life, is where romantic love settles, steadies, and solidifies.  There are bills to be paid and floors to mop.  The laundry piles up, and the roof has a leak.  Working together, they get it done.  In this doing of the mundane, love, strong and true, grows in labor shared.  Meanwhile, the babies come and with them, an era of exhaustion and strain such as the two have not yet known.  There are midnight feedings, colicky cries, the misery of teething, and doctor bills.  Romance now seems like a thing of the past.  They fall into bed at night, exhausted.  But every morning, they rise to do it all again.  Together.  There’s little time for just the two of them now.  Many things demand their attention.  The job, the business, the boss, the house, and the children top the list.  It’s not the rosy haze of first love holding them steady.  It’s a solid commitment.  They meant it, those lovers, when they said, “I do.” “For better or worse.  For rich or for poor.  In sickness and in health.  For as long as we both shall live.”  That’s what they said.  And that, God helping them, is what they meant.  It’s committed love that sends him out the door every day to care for his family.  Whether it be to a job he loves or a job he hates, no matter.  Faithfully, he provides.  It’s committed love that brings him home every night.  Though she’s not perfect and he, better than anyone, knows her shortcomings and failures, that’s his girl.  He gave his word.  It’s committed love that picks up the socks and washes the clothes.  That cooks up dinner and watches ESPN.  That helps pay the bills by taking a job.  Though he’s not perfect and she, better than anyone, knows his shortcomings and failures, that’s her man.  She gave her word.  It’s committed love that sees them through when things are tight and money is scarce.  That gets them through braces and adolescence and teenage angst.  That weathers driver’s ed and broken limbs and unemployment.  Oh, sure, they fight.  They often disagree, but they figure it out someway, somehow.   They’ve got some very good reasons, you see, several of which are clothed in jammies, asleep in their beds, for working it out.  And so they do.  They’ve learned along the way that forgiveness is key and that laughter helps.  That there are things worth fighting for, some that aren’t, and how to tell the difference.  They know, too, that one day, the children will leave, the house will settle, and they’ll be back to where they started – alone, together.  It may not be a perfect life or a fairy tale, but it’s a pretty good way to grow old and ride off into the sunset.  

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