The Country of Marriage

We love when Andrew comes home from a long day at the hospital. He doesn’t want to touch us until he gets clean, and so we just smile at each other in a goofy way, and Helen hides her face in me. She is shy and confused at feeling so happy.

I always longed for a voice crying from the wilderness: Marriage is good!

Perhaps these words were my own, coming at me from the future.

My husband and I didn’t meet each other until our late twenties. Many might see this as young, but really a lot of our lives had gone by and I grieve those years sometimes.

There is a beauty and a strength in your early twenties, a confidence and carefreeness, and you’ve got time to make yourself more beautiful and strong if you want to.

We had both been through a lot by the time we met. I’m ready to settle down, he said and what he meant was that he was ready to love and be loved, to enter into the wildness and take on the weight of one woman, and he was. 

It is good for someone to meet you growing old, used to disappointment, full of difficult stories, and say you are loved and lovable. It is better still for that someone to imagine and understand who you were and love you as you were, even as you were without them and even as you were in your mistakes.

But it is good to be together now. Not exactly old, but apprehending it’s approach. Living the fly-by days. Pinching pennies in the land of lullabies. A thousand dreams and many thousand cups of coffee. Settled down. Come home. A little confused at feeling so darn happy.

It is a wonderful thing to be giving each other confidence and carefreeness in a time when it has ceased to make sense, to make each other feel beautiful and strong when it is no longer exactly true. It is a strange thing to realize that all your beauty and his strength were meant for each other not in their rise but in their fall, but as we catch each other there and are held so gently, it doesn’t even matter. Perhaps we are even more strong and beautiful this way, falling towards one another.

“Most like an arch— two weaknesses that lean into a strength.” 

I wonder— If you have someone to be loving, could there be any better thing for you to do? Today or tomorrow? With your lips and with your eyes and with your thoughts? With your strength and with your presence, all the rest of your days?

In a shaky world, ever unfaithful and forsaking, marriage supports and holds ever open the door into a promised land, a long land … where a voice cries out:

Marriage is good! There are green fields and high mountains and clear creeks in this country. It is sweeter than you hoped. There is hope it will grow sweeter. It is yours. Welcome home.

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