I delivered the following remarks during a wedding I officiated for two of my good friends and former roommates:
Some make marriage out to be a big challenge, like the Olympics of relationships, this huge, intimidating Herculean task. They say “marriage is hard” but I think it’s actually life that’s hard and marriage is a part of life. Marriage is an opportunity to make someone else’s life easier. And to receive a type of love from them that makes our life easier. This relationship is an opportunity for rest. Because as these two commit themselves to each other, this will allow them to rest and they will grow in closeness and intimacy that wouldn’t be available to them otherwise.
Marriage is timeless: a non transactional relationship. What a relief is that! So many of our relationships are transactional. We go about life saying: I will be for you what I should be if you will be what you should be. It’s all about conditions. And expectations. It’s how we do business with one grocery store rather than another. It’s the same way we get stuff done at homeowners association meetings.
And what do we have here? Hear an intimidating vow: I will be for you what I should be, even if you are not what you should be. That is what sets this apart. It’s how we learn what love truly is. It’s reckless. It’s unguarded. It rushes in. It can’t be reasoned with. It is stronger than death. It does things that defy logic. It does things that defy self and self-interest.
By going there with someone, we allow them to go there. And when they go there, they enable us to go further.
The difference between this type of relationship and those transactional types is kind of like the difference between joy and happiness.
When we are happy, it’s often due to conditions. Or related to the present circumstances. We have a nice meal. It stops raining. We get a promotion. We are happy.
But joy is different. Joy can be found in the midst of good conditions, or in the midst of suffering. Joy is related to hope, optimism, and the future. Even when things are going terribly wrong, and we’re unhappy in that moment, we still are able to access joy.
This timeless tradition these two are entering is meant to be like that. It’s in the covenant they will enter: “In sickness, and in health”. Come what may, you’re my ride or die. I’m no longer evaluating you; I’ve chosen. I’ve piled my chips and I’m all in.
If we think about our married life as a challenge to undertake to prove ourselves, it could become something like a chore. But if we see married life as a gift given to us, meant for our and our partner’s rest, we see things differently. We’re not meant to locate our ultimate source of rest in our spouse. That’s a burden no one should be tasked with because no human can provide what God alone can provide. But when we understand that our spouse is meant for our rest–a gracious glimpse of Eden in a world of toil–and that they are seeking to help us rest, we develop deeper affinity and appreciation for them, realising they are the answer to things that no one else is. And when we understand ourselves as instruments of our spouse’s rest, maybe we don’t shout at them when they lock the keys in the car; that’s not very conducive to rest. Maybe we don’t bug them when their socks are left on the chairs the fifth time.
[They] are today beginning a new chapter of their life, dedicated to creating that environment for each other. And we’re so privileged to cheer them on.