He was assigned to row 26 seat B and my ticket put me 6 rows behind him in 32D. We wanted to sit next to each other on the five-hour flight back to the mainland from Hawaii, so we waited in line at the ticket counter to see if that was a possibility.
A young honeymooning couple from Switzerland stood behind us for the same reason. The airline attendant shuffled computer numbers and told us we were all stuck in our assigned seats due to a full flight.
My husband shrugged a, “Well, we tried” and I said, “I’ll see you in 5 hours” and we made our way to separate rows. I put my bag under my seat and fastened my seat belt. I looked up to the aisle across from me and saw the separated honeymooners. The new bride was crying her eyes out, looking longingly at her new husband a row over. It was probably the first time in a week they’d been more than 6 feet from each other.
I smiled, not at her sorrow, but because I would have probably done the same thing 19 years ago this December. I smiled because I knew something she hadn’t discovered yet: separation makes being together even better.
I couldn’t help but remember coming home from my honeymoon so long ago.
Here are 4 things I wish I had known then:
- Marriage Doesn’t Complete You-I remember being a doe-eyed virgin thinking if I could just get married, I would be complete. People don’t complete people, no matter how many romantic movies try to prove otherwise. Because it didn’t take long for those thoughts to transition to “if I could just be a mom.” God completes people. He fills in the gaps and heals the wounds that people leave. Marriage is amazing, but it’s imperfect and it wasn’t created to make us whole. If anything, it reveals our selfishness and brokenness. Only God completes us.
- You Can’t Give Too Much-For many years, I kept record. I reciprocated what was done for me. But once I realized the more you give in marriage, the more you get, it changed how I viewed my relationship with my husband. The union of two inherently selfish people produces a selfish marriage. But when we understand we can’t give too much, it not only makes us want to give more. It makes our union a selfless place of service and joy.
- He is Home, but He is not My Happily Ever After- We just have to watch a chick flick to believe that getting married puts you on the road to living a fairy tale. But that’s not true: because my husband and I get on each other’s nerves. And lo and behold, we disagree. We’ve learned while there isn’t really a permanent happily ever after, there is hard work and selfless love that leads to a beautiful journey of commitment and peace. Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s not. Happiness is temporary, but the abiding joy that comes from faithful commitment is what it’s really about. And that feels like home.
- Marriage Gets Better With Age– I don’t have flat abs or the energy of a 20 year old. I’m over the hill and I would have never believed after nearly two decades my marriage would be the best it’s ever been-from communication to sex to our comfortable friendship. The act of becoming one takes years of selfless living and limitless forgiveness. We learn that occasional separation is good for us. Many marriages breakdown in the middle place, but if we can keep our holy commitment to each other and God, it just keeps getting better.
The new bride across the aisle wiped her eyes and wrote thank you notes for most of the remaining flight. She winked at her husband and got up to go to the bathroom so she could brush by him a couple of times. At the end of the flight, they clung to each other like they had been a part for five months.
I smiled her way. She was already learning.
Marriage can be amazing. Marriage can be hard. I’ve been thru both with my husband and sometimes life is the best lesson. Check out my new Marriage Resource Page to help with both seasons.