Calling all married folks! Yep, this one’s for you.
Last week my husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. Fourteen years of absolute, perfect, wedded bliss. Okay, just kidding. “Perfect” would definitely not be a word that either of us would use to describe our marriage. Fulfilling, challenging, stretching, loving, growing, hard, forgiving, and a lot of WORK would all be a much more realistic way to describe this union we entered into years ago.
I love being married. I honestly admit that I have had my share of “relationship practice runs” as a dating single. As strange as it may sound, I’m grateful for those past dating experiences because they prepared me for the incredible man God had waiting for me. (Uh, by the way God, you could have brought Prince Charming into the picture a little sooner and saved me a bunch of headaches, you know. A few less nightmares about being a single, weird, cat lady knitting socks for my friends’ kids for the rest of my life would have been nice. But I get it. You’re God. So I’ll let you off the hook this time.)
On that incredible day that my husband proposed, one of the amazing things he did after slipping on THE ring was hand me a single long stemmed red rose. Then he proceeded to recite the most beautiful words I’d ever heard a man say to me.
He said, “Jamie, this is a Devotion Rose. I will be giving you a rose every week until the day we are married to signify my love, commitment, and devotion to you as my wife and to our marriage.” Say what?! Cue the waterworks and the fleeting thought of, “Is this guy for real?” Well, he was, and he remained true to his word. He presented me with a rose while repeating the same words he said on our engagement night, every. single. week.
There were weeks when he had to get a bit creative which was fun. At one point, he was traveling in Alaska, sleeping on a glacier in a tent with no cell service, and doing helicopter ski trips on the mountains during the day. I know, I know. I had the same thought. I think I’m marrying a crazy person. But during that time when he was as far away as the Western world is from Siberia, he asked his FATHER to show up at my workplace with the Devotion Rose. My soon to be father-in-law walked into my office and repeated those same words, inserting his own little twist of committing to be the best father-in-law he can be. Yep. You guessed it. Not only was I crying, but so were all of my fellow female co-workers who witnessed it all. One big, obnoxious, blubber-fest.
Over the course of the nine months between the night we got engaged until our wedding day there were 38 weeks, and 38 red roses. Andrew and I decided that we wanted to incorporate what had become a tradition each week into our marriage ceremony. We had our florist create a beautiful bouquet of 38 red roses that would be placed at the altar throughout the entire ceremony. During the ceremony we placed one, white rose in the center of the arrangement. We wanted this final rose to represent God in our marriage and the importance of centering our entire relationship on Him. We also chose white because it represents purity, love, loyalty, and new beginnings. It was a very powerful moment for us and one we will treasure forever.
What’s the point of this story? Every year on our wedding anniversary Andrew gives me 38 red roses and a single white one as a reminder of the commitment we made to each other and the important role that God plays in our marriage. (We would be a HOT MESS if Jesus wasn’t at the helm of this marriage boat!)
When I received my bouquet this year I realized how much I appreciate this tradition. Not only do I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gesture, but every year it takes me back to the foundation of what our union was established on. Our love for each other, our commitment to relishing the beautiful moments and persevering through the challenging ones, and most importantly our faith.
I believe traditions are so important because they keep us grounded in past truths and keep our roots firmly planted. Is there a tradition that you have with your spouse that is special to you? Or is there one that you used to have that has been unintentionally shelved and needs a little dusting off?
If you don’t have a tradition, that’s okay! There’s no better time to start than NOW! It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It could be simply writing a love letter to each other on your anniversary. Or revisiting the place where you met or were engaged, and reminiscing about the dreams, hopes, and visions you had for your future life together. If you’re really hard up for ideas, just play Tony! Toni! Tone!’s song, “Anniversary” from 1993 and dance around in your living room. Scratch that. We want you to STAY married.
Whatever it is that you decide to do, make it special and unique to you. Use it as an opportunity to take you back to those butterfly feelings you had when you realized you were going to spend the rest of your life with your very best friend. Let it be an opportunity to keep your marriage fresh and grounded in the beautiful things that keep you strong as a couple.
Remember the love, and find your tradition.