I went to a funeral Monday morning; the mother of a friend. She was about 95 and left behind a grieving husband who will turn 99 next month. They had been married for 73 years. I sat in church and pondered that kind of love and commitment. Seventy-three years? For those of us who have been married a long time, there are days you wonder if you will make it seven years, then you wonder if you can make it to 12, then 25. Marriage is so hard on some days and so glorious on most of the other ones. By far the joyful days outnumber the bad days, but you have to marry your spouse every single morning when you get out of bed. You have to make that promise to love and cherish all over again for the next 24 hours.
I think we are attracted to people we marry because they are different than we are – they fill in things we don’t have in ourselves. Those who are hard-driving might find themselves married to a soft-spoken, gentle sort. The extroverts to the introverts. The joyfully fun-loving to the serious and determined. Later, on the hard days, it’s probably the very things that attracted us to each other that are the things that drive us crazy. It’s not always easy to see the sacred in each other on the bad days.
You marry for your entire life, but each day is a new commitment. Day by day, week by week, decade by decade, until the young woman you met in your village in Italy, the “prettiest girl in town,” has been your companion in life for 73 years. The loss of that person leads to the kind of sorrow and grief and emptiness that only our faith can fill and the hope of salvation we have been promised for so long.