Why do we get married? Well one obvious reason is you meet someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with. What if it happens several times and what if it happens when you have older children, and you really should be celebrating their weddings and celebrations!
In 1993, my first husband walked out and although we had two children together – he had been difficult, uncompromising and demanding – he wasn’t going to change – so I became the same and gritting my teeth – hard decision as I was in it for the long haul – decided the best solution after going to counseling and mediation – and I filed the divorce papers. After I had worked full time for 7 years – and my family had grown up – we needed to move from North Queensland.
I moved to the Sunshine Coast in early 2002 – my second daughter and I moved into a rental and looked for somewhere to buy. We found it by Easter, My daughter was settled into a school. We both went to the church associated with the school, and I was asked if I wanted to get along to a Singles group. I was terrified, I had already negotiated out of a very difficult marriage that was awkward as we were supposed to be lifetime partners, but my lifetime partner left me after making it very clear that he was not interested in staying. Leaving the message I needed to change – what into – well – I was supposed to know! I didn’t know whether I was ok, or not – and it was very scary.
So I had lived with so many mixed messages, I now needed to readjust and put myself out there, I went about once, panicked and didn’t go back until later, meanwhile I went to some counselling, and group activities that were encouraging and gave me positive feelings about my purpose in life. Eventually, I went back to the Singles group and enjoyed the membership and helped organize outings. This got me out of being on display, and into supporting and helping and also I was getting out. Organizing meant I had to go to most events – much more fun than sitting on the sidelines and expecting everyone to look after me, I could talk to everyone and make sure no one was lonely or by themselves.
Stephen turned up at several meetings, he was from another church that we joined together with to have a broader number at our gatherings. He wasn’t interested in any relationships either and somehow we got talking, it was mostly at dancing – we went to a dance organised to raise money by a rural fire brigade. The music was unbelievably good and we enjoyed old fashioned dancing. Then I asked him to help me with my garden, as he was a green keeper. Guess what he did, I started to realize he ticked the boxes on my list of qualities I would find in my next partner. Well, I am a romantic, and I was told you need to have a vision of your future – and have a list of what you expect in a future partner, house etc. And the list got more and more ticks as time went on…. and we actually fell in love…how good is that.
We were introduced to our children, and we waited until after our two daughters had 21st birthdays, and we had met my mother, Stephen’s Mum and Dad checked me over about the time of his daughter’s 21st. We had everyone’s seal of approval. Our church Pastor interviewed prospective marriage couples and he went through a booklet he had with us. When would we like to tell everyone – how about at the Valentines Day Ball in February – perfect, I put on the ring I had in my drawer since September ( we had unsuccessfully put off a lot of inquiries from our friends as to when we were getting engaged) – we went to the Ball and danced the night away as engaged as we could get!
We married in June 2007 – the 23rd is doubly auspicious for me – we had migrated to Australia that date as a family, Sadly my Dad, older than Mum by 10 years, had passed away 3 years earlier, he never met Stephen – but he would have got on with him very well. My brother took me down the aisle and we had as much of the family and friends as we could muster. It was a wonderfully warm and happy time.
In the ten years a lot has happened. My eldest daughter migrated back to the UK and is happily working there. My youngest left home and came back again! Stephen’s son has married and has two beautiful children – a little girl and just recently a boy. His daughter has found a lovely man and will marry next March.
We have traveled and connected to our families in Europe and Canada. We have had a romantic vacation in Vanuatu, and a missionary trip to Thailand. We have traveled back to New Zealand – several times – and sourced information on my family and Stephen’s family. But that is all the events – what about the heart of the matter – what is it that we have found in each other that means we stay.
There is a strong faith in a God that never changes – no matter what we do – he is constant, caring, sees the best in us, has a plan for our lives that we are discovering day-by-day. We seek him out in literature, various churches we have been to, in each other, in our friends and in prayer. Sometimes it is hard, as answers don’t always come at our beck and call. Sometimes there is no answer just more questions. We read our Bibles, we seek support from like-minded friends. But we always know that God will pick up the pieces, and the answers eventually appear. Something will make sense, often only in hindsight.
God made family, and taught us about relationship through his family – his Son – Jesus came into the world and taught the Word through stories and explanations that were geared to man who finds a lot of words complicated. He explains in pictures, and clarifies by visual aids, always be sharing our stories and activities, the shepherds, the women at the well, the things we do wrong – he makes right. Marriage starts family – it started with Adam and Eve and that is why when we get it wrong – it seems so wrong. But God forgives us and let’s us try again, and that is why we are both so eternally grateful that we both could do that.
Here is to marriage – the ups and downs, the courage it gives to try new things, and the support and love that it gives out to the smaller members of our family and the elderly who don’t have the strength to do things anymore.