Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood


Twenty Years Married . . . Really?

posted by Jana Riess

Twenty years ago today, I stood at the altar and married my best friend. It was a beautiful candlelight evening wedding that we put together on a shoestring budget of $2,000. (Two thousand dollars for the entire wedding and cake-and-punch reception: Even in 1991, that was some serious frugality.)

We held the wedding in a Presbyterian church in the town I grew up in. You knew it was a Swedish town because the photographer, the florist, the cake decorator, and the dry cleaner who preserved my dress were all named Anderson, and they were not related to each other.

But we all know that beautiful weddings are a dime a dozen, and beautiful marriages are spotted owls. A loving and supportive marriage has made many other beautiful things possible in my life, and I’m not quite sure how I got so ridiculously lucky. So much of it is luck. A fair portion is also choosing the right partner in the beginning, and holding hands as you weather your inevitable storms.

One of our traditions is that each year for our anniversary, we decide together to buy something for the household rather than trying to find individual gifts for each other. Since our anniversary falls immediately after Christmas, we’re always sick to death of shopping for just the right present, so we do the joint gift. Last year, we bought a dual-control electric blanket, which is about six different kinds of awesome. This year, since it was the big 2-0, we splurged on commissioning a kitchen pantry that matches our other cabinets. I won’t tell you how much it cost, except to say that it was almost exactly the price of our entire damn wedding.

Since I’m a writer, I wish I could come up with something lovely that communicates what I want to say about this anniversary (other than “It’s been 20 years . . . Is that even possible?!). But anything I write myself is maudlin in the manner of an Anne Bradstreet poem. It all sounds like sentimental claptrap. I got nothin’.

What I keep returning to instead is this delightful short poem by Frances Shaw. I discovered it in college and it immediately made me think of Phil. I loved it so much I had it printed in our wedding bulletin:

Who loves the rain

And loves his home

And looks on life with quiet eyes,

Him will I follow through the storm;

And at his hearth-fire keep me warm;

Nor hell nor heaven shall that soul surprise,

Who loves the rain,

And loves his home,

And looks on life with quiet eyes.

Happy anniversary.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Myra

    I remember your wedding — shoestring budget or not, it was beautiful! Happy Anniversary!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sally

    Congratulations. I loved your post.

    I felt the same struggle when I tried to write an anniversary post (http://showerwall.blogspot.com/2009/06/i-cannot-heave-my-heart-into-my-mouth_13.html).

    I had to fall back on a TS Eliot poem.

    To whom I owe the leaping delight
    That quickens my senses in our wakingtime
    And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,
    The breathing in unison

    Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other
    Who think the same thoughts without the need of speech
    And babble the same speech without need of meaning.

    No peevish winter wind shall chill
    No sullen tropic sun shall wither
    The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only

    But this dedication is for others to read:
    These are private words addressed to you in public. T.S. Eliot

    • Jana Riess

      This is a beautiful poem. Thank you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment PLTK

    Congratulations! I was always pleased we got away with about $3,000 (in 1993), but you did very well! I never understood spending so much money on a wedding–at least not on all the fancy frills.

    Love the poems–both yours and Sally’s.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jessica

    I just found you blog, my husband and I got married 10 years to the day after you. And that was one frugal wedding :)

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