It takes a village to raise a marriage

So THIS happened nearly nine years ago:

LesterBest0204 - Click to view full size photo

And in typical LB fashion, we are already planning a celebration for when we reach 10 years in one year, five months and two days time (but who’s counting!). We LBs do love to celebrate (well I do, and David’s caught the bug through osmosis); but our desire to have a big party, blessing or some sort of celebration with friends & family goes deeper than just wanting to dress up, eat, drink, dance and generally have fun.

In our wedding service, as with all weddings to which I’ve been, our Vicar asked the congregation ‘do you, the family and friends of David and Natalia promise to support and uphold them in their marriage?’ And, as with every other wedding, everyone exclaimed ‘WE WILL!’.

Now, it has been said (on more than one occasion) that I take words too literally and seriously so maybe this is just me. But, to me, when I make this claim, when I shout out to my friends or family at the alter, making the biggest promise they’ll ever make, that I’ll support them in that, I mean it. But the number of people who announce their divorce to friends, family & acquaintances who are totally shocked shows that those friends or family likely haven’t been upholding or proactively supporting their marriage, or there wouldn’t be such shocked faces…and maybe there’d be fewer divorces.

But this isn’t just to tap away & judge the people who came, celebrated, ate, danced, meant well, gave a gift, and then buggered off.  As adults, if we want support then we need to show that we are open to it. Yes, other people need to prioritise asking more than just superficial questions to which they expect and accept ‘yeh, we’re great thanks’ responses; we can ask ‘what’s been a highlight and challenge of marriage so far?’ or ‘what’s made you want to get divorced (this week!) and what’s made you glad you chose each other?’ etc. But we also need to be open to such input and, importantly, to provide opportunities for people to be part of our marriage (in a non-breaking of vows kinda way 😉 )…for me, that’s part of the reason I have a WhatsApp group with a couple of close, married mates wherein we can vent, seek advice, challenge & support each other.

And this part of the reason why we intend on marking our marriage milestones not just the two of us (though we do that as well), but as celebration within our community of family & friends. I love that because we so often have people live with us, they see the cuddles, the thoughtfulness, the not leaving the house without kissing each other goodbye of our LB marriage. They also see the griping, moaning, occasional shouting & swearing too (all me). Because of how open, honest & authentic we are (well, we try to be) our friends & family know that they can speak up, nudge, enquire etc about us. And what better opportunity to celebrate with, support and uphold us than at a big anniversary? Because our marriage is not just between the two of us-it’s a commitment and relationship which embraces and hopefully blesses and supports and help grow others we love too-and they, in turn, help us grow and be happier and better.

group wedding pic blurred
24.10.09 | image blurred for data protection yada yada

On the floor for Love

Except for in a Hipster office, working on the floor is widely seen as unseemly, lowly, or even dirty-in our culture it’s servant work. And yet as I think back to this day seven years ago what comes to mind is how many of my beloveds *literally* got on their hands & knees to serve & help me. This time seven years ago I was to be married in 24hours and still had 101 small but important things to do. And so my friends and beloveds held us up and got us to the Finish (well the Start!) Line; there was Katie on the floor with her paintbrushes making unique paintings of Ghanaian symbols in our ‘wedding colours’ for decoration; there was Sweet P not only driving me around for my final errands but who had been on the floor while I was laid up unable to walk, helping me wrap gift-bags of hand-decorated Thank You cups to thank our helpful friends; there were Payal & Dilanie on the floor laboriously tacking not one but two layers of cream cloth to make the beautiful aisle for our entrance a few hours away. And all of this floor-work after the dayssss of shopping & faffing & rehearsing! (& I expect lots of private swearing!!😉)

These girls physically *got on the floor* in devoted love & service and so many others did so figuratively-Rachel who designed invitations, became my PA, checked my emails to protect me from unnecessary stress when I had so much of my own, and who listened & comforted as I prayerfully sweared upon receipt of some sad family news; my big brother who flew across the world & then graciously hoovered my house the morning of my wedding, humbly transforming from Brother of the Bride to Janitor (i.e. life saver!) in seconds! There were Nick & Jonny, Rob & Mike, Phil & Alice & James variously catching planes, driving cars & rehearsing songs…and everrrryone carrying tables & chairs, laying tablecloths & petals all before The Day itself! And yet others joined the servant-hearted throng on our Marriage Day, decorating, getting me ready and to church, directing cars, ushering guests, serving Pimms, lighting candles, cutting cake, filming & photoing, doing speeches, doing flips, setting off fireworks, tidying up etc etc etccccccc all in the name of *Love* love LOVE for us.

      

So today I reflect on our seven year medley of joyous experiences; of daily-grind made easier by companionship & support; of challenges faced & survived by carrying the burden on two sets of shoulders; of triumphs achieved growth with mutual support & sacrifice; of personal growth continued & of so much fun had! And yet…today I thank not my unparalleled, *exceptional* husband but our range of generous, considerate friends & family who whether then or now, have served us without (much😉) complaint & who have shown us in various ways what it is to ‘love patiently, kindly & without self-seeking‘.