“The greatest threat to marriage is routine,” said our pastor at Mass yesterday. Â Routine, he explained, is that habit of taking each other for granted, of going through the day intent on our own individual pursuits, of forgetting to truly see and appreciate each other.
Of all the wise things that Father Xavier has ever said, I think this may be one of the wisest.
And then, in honor of St. Valentine’s Day, he invited all married couples to stand and renew their wedding vows. Â So Â Scott and I did, right there in the pew. Â We recited the same vows we said almost ten years ago, in the same church. Â I cried, just as I did the first time. Â I thought about how much I love him, just as I did the first time.
This time, though, we were not standing on the altar, the focus of attention in our fancy dress and tux. Â We were in the middle of a pew in the back half of the church, with picture books of dinosaurs and cars littering the seat and two little brown-haired boys surging restlessly at our feet. Â And this time, my vows were interrupted by a three-year-old who climbed up on the pew, sticking his face right between us, Â his brown eyes open wide and a mischievous little smile on his face as if to say, “What are you guys doing? Â I want in on this, too.” Â Scott and I laughed and I thought about how perfect it was, that spontaneous little intrusion by that spontaneous little guy.
Because we’re the same two people that we were ten years ago, Â and yet we aren’t. Â We’ve traveled together down a road that has included so many things we could not have anticipated, things both painful and beautiful. Â We’ve learned a lot about each other, discovering each other’s strengths and shortcomings. (We’ve come face-to-face with our own strengths and shortcomings, too, Â which is a kind of self-knowledge that you just can’t escape when you live with another person.) Â And we’ve become parents, welcoming Matthew and Lukey into our lives. Â We know the joy of a newborn’s smile, the pain of a toddler’s fall, the exhaustion of a sleepless night with a sick boy, the constant juggling of schedules to accommodate preschool pickups, the adorable hilarity of a knock-knock joke told by a five-year-old. Â Â We know what it is to make decisions not just for ourselves, not just for each other, but for two little people who are depending on us to do it wisely. Â We know what it is to see our love create other lives, and to love those little lives with absolutely every speck of our being.
So yes, they are the same words I said ten years ago, but they mean so much more now. Â They mean more than I could ever have imagined.
And that’s a very good reason to say them again.