We celebrated our 28th anniversary this week.
We got married on St. Patrick’s Day, 1989. The holiday itself wasn’t on our radar at the time. As Mormons, St. Patrick doesn’t have much of a place in our traditions. We don’t worship saints, and we don’t drink beer, green or otherwise.
However, the day did prove to be fortuitous. We got lucky. (Not like that!) (Okay, yes, like that…. but this is not that kind of a blog...)
We each have come to the conclusion that we are lucky to have the other. There can be no better conclusion for spouses, in my opinion.
A couple of days before our anniversary, our son asked if we planned to celebrate. It was a fair question, considering the epic battle he had witnessed the day before. We’ve had our share of arguments, like any married couple, but that one felt bigger, and the atmosphere in our home reflected it.
We responded to our son that of course we were going to celebrate! 28 years of marriage deserves to be recognized, and celebrated. Even if the celebrants are locked in battle over the current state of affairs. Marriage, we told our son, is like that. Ups and downs have figured prominently in our journey. Fortunately, for us, more ups than downs.
As related in a previous post, there happened to be a pretty big elephant in our room. Church, and the attendance thereof.
Daron had admitted to me that he didn’t like attending alone. And since I dislike attending at all, we had reached an impasse. There seemed to be no way forward that would satisfy the both of us.
As we embarked on our anniversary celebration, with our previous conversation still hanging heavy in the air, the atmosphere was slightly tense. But, my husband, being a man (and yes, this seems to be a male trait), was able to set it aside in the interest of an evening away from the stresses of home and family. Basically, he was looking forward to gettin’ some.
We had chosen to spend the night at a local inn. Just being away for a night is cause for celebration. We really do enjoy one another’s company, more so when away from our own cluttered environment and needy children.
As the evening progressed, our conversation turned to the event 28 years ago that had changed both our lives. For good, I might add.
He asked what I remembered most about the day. My clearest recollection is feeling cherished by him as we proceeded through the ceremony in the temple. He was attentive and chivalrous, making me feel adored.
I asked what he remembered most. He responded, “Driving to dinner after the ceremony and watching you take off your girdle in the front seat of the car. No woman had ever removed a piece of clothing in my car before.”
He then asked if I had any regrets. I gave his question the thoughtful consideration it deserved, and answered, honestly, “No, no regrets. None.”
(Except for that girdle. I regret that. Haven’t worn one since.)
What about him, I asked? Regrets?
No, he replied. Not one.
Really? I responded. None? You don’t regret marrying someone who started out Mormon, and ended up a happy agnostic atheist?
No, he said. I love the woman you have become as much as I loved the woman I married. More, even.
Wow. In that moment, it became even more clear to me how lucky I am to be married to him.
He does not tolerate the changes in me; he celebrates them. He celebrates me. He loves me, all the parts of me.
How can I, then, not rejoice in all the parts of him? He is religious, to the core. He has a strong testimony that the Mormon church is The Church of Jesus Christ, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He is not timid in his expression of his faith, and he does not hesitate to share what he believes he knows to be true when the opportunity presents itself.
And you know what? I wouldn’t change that about him either. It is part of what makes him who he is. His testimony centers him, and helps form the core of strength that defines him. Without his belief in the gospel, and Jesus, who would he be? Of course, there is no way to know, but I will happily accept his faith as an integral and essential part of his being, because I love that being with all my heart and soul.
My leaving the church didn’t destroy our marriage. I believe, in retrospect, it strengthened it. We each had to figure out who we were in relationship to the divine, without leaning on the other. Because in the end, a testimony is deeply personal, and the acquiring of one is accomplished through solitary introspection. It isn’t, or shouldn’t be, reliant upon the testimony of one’s mate.
Daron doesn’t like going to church alone, but he does it. When I stopped going, he was forced to figure out what mattered to him, and he had to come to the conclusion, on his own, that he would prefer to go alone than not go at all.
So is it sad that we don’t share a faith in God? A little, maybe.
But I find joy in our journey through and beyond my faith transition, because we have each arrived at a place of peace with regards to God’s existence.
Daron continues going to church, alone, because he believes in it.
I continue not going to church, at all, because I don’t believe in it.
And we continue to love and support one another on our chosen paths.
As he prepared to leave the house for church this afternoon, I looked at him in his suit and tie, and I felt lucky.
I am lucky to be married to a man who loves God, and me. There is room for us both.