February 19, 2018

A Wedding Letter to my Sister: what a Marriage is really Made Of.

For my little sister on her wedding day:

Two years after getting married myself, I’ve realized that marriage is not what I expected.

Sure, there are good times in store for you and Evan. The first few weeks after I got married were some of the best weeks of my life.

But then, time rolled on.

And within months, Joseph and I were at each other’s throats.

Now, should this same thing happen to you, and you find yourself worried that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, please know that it is all part of the plan. Choosing to get married is essentially signing up for an inevitable can of worms—the best kind and the worst kind.

Here are a few observations to take with you:

1. A marriage isn’t made just by what is happening here, today.

A marriage is made every time you have a disagreement, and then resolve it. It is made every time you feel irritation with each other, and let it give way to acceptance and love again. A marriage is made over pancake breakfasts and pumpkin picking, but also over hurt feelings, disappointed expectations, and flares of anger.

Don’t avoid these darker times, for it’s in pushing on through these challenges and coming through to the other side that will truly make your marriage.

2. The real point of standing in front of all of us today to say your vows is not to wear the dress and have a party, but to put us on notice—as your community—that you are embarking on a challenging and exhilarating lifelong process.

Don’t be afraid to call on us for the support that will be essential to thriving in this endeavor.

Remember, admitting to turmoil in your relationship is never an admission of failure; it is the sure sign of a love that is deepening, growing, and becoming stronger. Intentionally allowing it to happen is a sign of your maturity. We want to both celebrate this with you and prop you up for any leg of the journey that may feel intense.

3. Sometimes, the only thing that will save the day is a sense of humor.

If you can find a way to see each other with good humor, if you can open up a space for laughter in the most unlikely times, you will always find your way to seeing each other with compassion. Sometimes, it feels like you’re stuck, and that it would be better if you were to cut ties completely. But if you can find a way to laugh at the inanity of it all, you’ll find your way back to love. You will get to the place where arguments can dissolve into giggles, as the depth of your connection sees you through all challenges.

4. The point of getting married is not only to share the joys, but to bear with one another as you both deepen and grow into the people you are meant to be.

I’ve enjoyed learning the story of Dolly Copp, one of the first European women to settle in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. She was married to her husband Hayes Copp for five decades before choosing to move in with her sister in Virginia and quietly lived out the rest of her days there. At the campground named after her in New Hampshire, there’s a plaque with her famous phrase, “Fifty years is long enough to live with any man.”

Joseph and I sometimes joke that we will be saying this about each other someday, but I know, deep down, that we can work for a better ending to our story.

This great feat will require not only strength and courage, but also gentleness. It requires not only mettle and grit, but also softness. It requires becoming increasingly more vulnerable and open with one another, and continuously letting go of the ways you’ve held back. This will bring your greatest joys and will require your greatest growth.

Everything in me tells me that although the path will be rough at times, we can do this.

We want to stand with you and Evan in 50 years, when you grasp each other’s hands just a little more tightly, and say not that you’ve had enough, but that it hasn’t yet been enough.



What I Wish I Could Say to a Couple at their Wedding—A Minister’s Secret Thoughts.


Author: Bethany Vaccaro
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Kenni Linden
Social Editor: Kenni Linden

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