Today Ryan and I celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary.
This past five months of separation have given me time to think about our marriage and just what we mean to one another.
In the past weeks several conversations and events have driven me to delve deep. They have caused me to dwell on just how very hard making a good marriage is and how rewarding it can be if you survive the making of it. Marriage is the struggle to overcome the way you’ve always been. It is the attempt to learn to think of someone else’s well being as equal to your own… the need to break out of habits and reactions you were trained up in as a child. It’s more than just learning to live with each other… It’s more than just dealing with the hardships the world throws at you…
The Bible says that a man and a wife will join together and become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) It is one of those verses that are, all too often, taken at face value. It is quoted but not often discussed. As a result of that I grew up never thinking about what becoming one flesh involved… what does that mean, what does that entail, is it something that happens immediately when the vows have passed your lips or does it take time?
Over the years of our marriage I have come to believe that it is a process, that it takes work, that it is not automatic… I have come to believe that when it is said in the Bible that the two shall become one flesh it is not a statement of fact but a command that should be acted upon.
The more I read and study on this subject the more the metaphor of grafting seems to apply. Even the modern definition of marriage, which is rooted in Latin, supports that metaphor. According to Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at Stanford University the word for marriage originally was “maritare,” a term used with mainly agricultural uses, referring to the grafting of vines and plants.
I am convinced that there are two kinds of marriage. A marriage that is grafted and a marriage that is cross pollinated.
Think about the practice of grafting a tree. Grafting is done for a variety of reasons… to produce more fruit, to weed out faults and disease in the root-stalk, to produce a stronger and more hearty plant. Isn’t that, in essence, what we want out of a marriage?
However, in order to graft a plant, the two plants have to be mortally wounded. They are cut off and the extraneous parts of them are stripped away. Then they are carefully and deeply cut open and inserted into one another. Then a special tape is wound around them to hold them together while the graft takes… When enough time has passed the tape is removed to show one plant grown together, stronger as one than it ever was as two…
Marriages that don’t go through this, the parting of oneself, the pain of ripping out the extraneous parts of yourself to make room for your mate so that you may grow together and be one, these are the marriages where the two live as cross pollinated plants. They exist as two plants that go well together in the same garden row… These plants exist side by side… they live together with their roots touching and bees pollinating between them to make beautiful flowers and fruit, but they never know the joy and the sacrifice of being one thing! They can, in time, grow apart and at different paces. They can survive without one another.
The old saying that, “Nothing worth having in life comes easily”, applies to Ryan and me. We have worked hard to get to where we are. We have paid dearly in the journey. We have both had to let parts of ourselves die. We have had to forsake our own desires for the needs of each other. But our reward is this;
I believe that through the pain and suffering Ryan and I have endured in our marriage we have become grafted. Over our years together we’ve grown so close that everything that affects me affects him and vice versa. We’ve weathered drought, wind, fires, storms, and a multitude of adversities… and because of them here we stand… united and stronger for the struggles.
Who knows what trials and joys the years will bring… I do know that the two of us grafted together and stronger than we ever were as two can weather the storms so much better…
We have learned to use our strengths to feed each others needs… Just as trees branches are responsible for gathering sunshine and its roots gather water we play to our strengths to garner what we need to continue growing together….
We are each other’s best friends. We are each other’s support systems. We are each other’s everything.
I have a quote at the top of my website that says it all for me…
“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest, blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am; ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.”
~From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte~
Today I dedicate the song, “My Romance” by Doris Day to my husband, Ryan. Thank you for 8 wonderful years, for the good times and the bad, for the monumental events and the simplest moments. Thank you for being the other half of who I am.
All my NUBBS!
My romance doesn’t have to have a moon in the sky
My romance doesn’t need a blue lagoon standing by
No month of May, no twinkling stars
No hide away, no soft guitars
My romance doesn’t need a castle rising in Spain
Nor a dance to a constantly surprising refrain
Wide awake I can make my most fantastic dreams come true
My romance doesn’t need a thing but you.