It rained on my wedding day. Huge drops fell on our Bahamian town and left us running for cover. I paced in my cabana, fretting that the rain wouldn’t stop in time for the wedding. David, my soon-to-be husband, handed me a glass of champagne and reminded me that the weather was out of our hands. All we could do was relax, hope for the best, and love each other.
An hour before the ceremony, the skies parted. I wandered into the wet streets and looked up. And there, stretching the sky between our hotel and the church, was a double rainbow.
This week I’m celebrating my third wedding anniversary. In dog years, we’d be married twenty-one years, and in some ways it feels as though we’ve been married that long. When I think back on the fun we’ve had, peppered with trying circumstances beyond our control, it seems that our love has spanned decades.
So after twenty-one dog years of heart-felt commitment, here’s what I know about love and marriage.
They don’t always go together like a horse and carriage.
I’ve been married twice. My first wedding was picture perfect. Clear, blue skies. Gentle breeze. Everything went off without a hitch. That is, until we got divorced.
My first husband was seemingly perfect for me. He was tall, dark, and handsome. We were close in age. He was well-educated and had a loving family. We had dated and lived together for years before we were engaged. We took our time. We got to know each other. We did everything by the book.
But when I cried in the bathroom before the ceremony, I caught on that perhaps loving someone romantically does not always mean that you should marry them. The man waiting at the alter for me was not the love of my life. Yes, I loved him; and he loved me. But it was a safe, static love with no possibility for passion or growth. He provided me what I needed after my mother died – an emotional refuge.
I married him and stayed with him for six years. Mostly because I felt as though I owed him something. He had stepped up and took care of me in the only way he knew how, and I felt I should do the same for him. After years of scanning the universe for my soul mate while married to him, I realized that if I stayed, I would be merely existing. And we both deserved more than that. So I left him, with sincere apology but without regret.
Passion is your fuel. Compassion is your anchor.
When I met my second husband, David, I knew I was going to marry him. (I didn’t tell him that, of course, at the risk of sounding crazy.) When I shook his hand for the first time, the space between us was warm and comfortable but charged with an electricity so intense that I braced myself against a chair.
Our chemistry was so palpable that strangers would approach us and tell us how perfect we were together. And when a mutual friend heard that we were married, she wrote us a note that read, “If anyone should be married it is the two of you. May your love always steam up the car windows.”
Those steamy car windows got us through years of dating tribulations, such as fending off the naysayers who balked at our seventeen year age difference. United against the world, our passion fueled us beyond everyday negativity.
As time went on, and dating turned into marriage, we faced life’s challenges as we dealt with a downturned economy, family issues, and personal changes. We found a deeper, more profound bond called compassion. It was there that we threw in the anchor and waited patiently for each other to feel whole, warm, and happy again.
In love, there are times for passion: fueling your fire and moving forward. And then there are times for compassion: throwing in the anchor and holding steady. For in this yin and yang dynamic of true love, there cannot be one without the other.
You must choose each other. Every day.
It is not enough to love each other. You must also choose each other. When you’re married, temptations will occur. Temptations such as flirty exchanges; making others a priority; talking bad about your spouse to others; and sharing your personal woes with someone other than your husband.
Don’t take a bite of that apple! Your spouse must be number one in your life. Above your children. Above your parents. Above your friends. If you don’t let the world know that you are bound together seamlessly, cracks will occur that often times cannot be fixed.
I wish I could tell you that my three years of marriage to David has been perfect. While it hasn’t been, it’s been pretty darn close. What’s made it worth everything is the way he looks at me, how we cuddle together effortlessly, and how we hold on to each other and laugh when the world is dark and scary.
I often think about what David said to me on our wedding day as we waited out the rain. There are going to be plenty of circumstances that are out of your control. And all you can do is relax, hope for the best, and love each other.
And maybe, the skies will part and you’ll get that double rainbow. Or, at the very least, a palm tree to kiss under.