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Roxane B. Salonen, Published July 26 2013

Living Faith: Summer events highlight blessing of marriage

On a November day in 1991, my husband, Troy, and I, both 23 and slightly naïve, walked down the aisle of our church to profess our love for and lifelong commitment to one another.

We couldn’t have known then all we’d endure and celebrate, or conceive that five lively children would become part of our familial picture.

Nuptial gatherings this summer – an ideal time for such events for the wiser among us – have provided much reason to reflect on that day and a rare glimpse of the marriage continuum.

In particular, we’ve experienced the back-to-back events of a former babysitter’s marriage and the 50th wedding anniversary of Troy’s parents.

One weekend, we gazed upon a blushing bride and her handsome, hopeful groom, and the following, witnessed the renewal of vows of our kids’ vivacious and well-preserved paternal grandparents.

I was especially impressed the young couple had invited children to their special day, which led to a parallel invitation of spilled drinks, random squeals and other doses of unpredictability.

But it didn’t ruffle the couple, who seemed to cherish the extra energy. When it came time for their first dance, a large group of children had collected at the edge of the dance floor to watch and wait.

As I observed the pair’s tender embrace with children encircling like flowers, a tear trickled out of my eye. I know the road for them won’t always be easy, but all new beginnings should be replete with possibility, as this one was.

The following weekend, our extended family celebrated a couple whose first real date took place at the state fair when she was around 14, and he, 17. Back then, hoped-for courtship often meant approaching the girl’s father, which the young lad did, and with success. “Just don’t have her out too late,” was the reply.

Nowadays many first dates are arranged by text without parental input. The old method may be worn but maybe not so unwise after all.

A half-century after my husband’s parents said “I do,” they repeated those words again while looking into each other’s eyes, causing drips in mine once more. Despite the bumps in their road, they were falling in love again but with a more complete understanding now of what’s at stake.

And just as children had aligned our young friends’ wedding dance, grandchildren encircled the altar during the renewal celebration. Both couples had publicly expressed their commitment not only to each another but to the other lives that fill their spaces.

These events have helped me better grasp the profundity of both our parents’ enduring marriages. It’s rare and beautiful to make it through 50 years of anything, not to mention something as challenging as laying down one’s life for another.

Now, as my own marriage continues along its course of trials and triumphs, I can see the sparkling gem ahead. Fresh from these events, I look forward with hopeful anticipation toward our children’s future weddings, as well as that we’ll make it to 50 years.

In the earliest chapters of Genesis, we see God’s plan for humanity: “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fertile and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1: 27-28).

Indeed, a marriage that has stood the test of time is not only an amazing natural accomplishment, but a gift from God, and sustainable only through an abundance of supernatural grace.

Roxane B. Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. If you have a story of faith to share with her, email roxanebsalonen@gmail.com