There’s been much discussion in the past couple years about what marriage is. There have been a lot of interesting and some truthful things said about it and a lot of sound and fury. But like with all definitions, the way to look at what marriage is is to determine what it is in action and try to explain that. Marriage is a commitment between two people who love each other deeply, honestly, and unconditionally. Marriage is a covenant between two people who chose to become intimate in all senses of the term and who honor each other by declaring it publically.
It is not only the coming together of two separate people becoming a single unit but of two different people who, no matter how close they become, no matter how accurately they might mirror one another’s thoughts or moods, remain two different and individual people.
We are born separate and separate we remain. That’s the way of this animal. But we take pleasure in coming together. In forming a singular unit composed of two people. You don’t choose your parents or your siblings or your circumstances but you do choose your spouse. You do choose who you love and who you opt to live with for the rest of your life.
[My friends], in the time I’ve known you I’ve loved hearing your story. Like all stories, it’s a good one. If I was writing your story as a novel I couldn’t make a better plot point than to have you miserable in the rain, sharing a campsite together although alone with individual friends and at a Christian music festival while neither of you is Christian. And I couldn’t write a better line of opening dialogue than, “We’ve been sharing this site for two days and we haven’t been introduced, but my name is [One],” and the followup by [Two], “He seems nice, let’s hang out with him.”
[One], by breaking the ice you broke some barrier between your two worlds. In the Venn diagram of your lives the circles between [One's] friends and [Two's] friends merged into a new circle of [One and Two]. In your immediate future you’re breaking another barrier. Both of you are returning to college after years of work. As a former professor, I can tell you that’s exciting. I don’t have to tell you how scary it is too.
I can also tell you college is a place where a lot of change happens. Right now you’re just beginning to settle down into a pattern, not a rut but not something totally unpleasant either. Learning is like marriage, it involves a lot of personal, individual changes, and not all of them will be comfortable. Change, like marriage, isn’t meant to be comfortable. If it was we wouldn’t have reason to change or to marry. We could just stay home, playing Minecraft by ourselves.
Much as we might wish it otherwise, a lasting and growing love is not guaranteed by any ritual, even this one. The foundations of your life together are the devotion you have for one another, not just for now but for all your years together. Treasure the hopes and dreams you bring with you today. Promise yourselves and one another that your love will never be blotted out by what is common or obscured by the ordinary. Faults will surface where you now find sure footing, cracks will develop where you now see only security. It is not for lack of love these things happen, it is because, like a muscle, love does not change without tearing down a little what was there before, rebuilding the torn part to make it stronger.
Here is my charge to you: Always remember that it is better to be happy than to be right. The person beside you will, through all the changes he and she will go through, remain the person who is on your side. The best way to do that is to go through life holding one another’s hand.