My marriage started off kind of strange. Actually, it started off really strange. The way it started out made me wonder if I’d have a successful marriage. Let me take you back…
Kristyn and I were engaged before I left on a mission for my church. I’d finally met the girl of my dreams while playing college baseball down at the coast… but I really felt like I needed to go on a mission. So off I went. But before I went, I took her up to the Salt Lake Temple and proposed to her at night in front of the reflection pool. In disbelief, she accepted my proposal, and probably without thinking, committed to wait for me for the next two years.
Go figure… she waited. It’s rare to be engaged on your mission. It’s even rarer to have someone wait for you. But there she was, hundreds of letters later, at the airport… ready to roll.
Fast forward to our wedding day. We waited a long time for this day. Family and friends had traveled a long way to be there and we all congregated in front of the temple before the wedding. But someone was missing.
“Where is she?” That question was asked about a hundred times. “Where. Is. She?”
There I was, sitting on a curb, by myself with my face buried in my hands, while my family and friends stared at me in disbelief.
I guess she decided that since she had to wait two years for me, she would make me wait an extra 2 hours for her… on our wedding day.
Finally, her car rolled into the parking lot. Apparently, her mom decided to drive west when she should have driven east toward the temple. I’m not sure how someone could drive that far west and not know they’re going the wrong way but that’s a different conversation.
When she opened the door to her car, she was obviously embarrassed and devastated. This was the day that girls grow up dreaming about. They want that day to be perfect. And at that point… her day couldn’t have gotten worse.
I had a lot of emotions going on in me during this time. I was mad, sad, irritated, frustrated, and curious all at the same time. I walked over to her to find out what happened. She was crying, her mascara was running, and her hairdresser did the complete opposite of what she wanted done.
But then something happened… and the photographer who had to wait an additional two hours was able to capture it. This small and simple photograph that he took, has become the motto for our marriage. It wasn’t all of the other pictures that were taken that day that will help us withstand the test of time. It wasn’t the posing, and the kissing, and the fake smiles for the perfect photo. It wasn’t even what was said to each other during the ordinance that solidified our love and commitment to one another. This sacred moment that took place outside of the temple is the foundation of our marriage and the simple secret of a successful marriage:
It says… when times are tough, I’m here for you. We’re going to love each other, and forgive each other, and challenge each other until we walk this earth as one. If you cry, then I’ll be there to wipe your tears. If you’re hurt, then I’ll carry you. If you’re sad, then I’ll find a way to lift you up. But regardless of what is happening around us or between us, we are going to come together as one to work this thing out.
At the core of it all is the fact that it’s not how happy we can be during the good times that makes a successful marriage. It’s how we treat each other during the bad times that characterizes true love. It is that core concept that is the hallmark and foundation of all successful marriages.
Boyd K. Packer once shared a story of a girl “Who suffered a hectic and uncertain courtship, and on her wedding day she said, in rapture and joy, “oh mother, at last I am at the end of all my troubles,” Wherein the mother replied: “Yes my dear, you just don’t know which end.”
Whatever “end” you sit on in your marriage, the secret to making it a success is right in front of you. Unless there is unrepairable damage that has taken place, there is always a way to make the true love you wish you had into a reality.
A successful marriage is becoming a rare occurrence in the days we live in. There are fewer and fewer humble people who are able to look outside themselves, set aside their pride, and put their arm around their spouse. And oh what a shame it is. Because a successful marriage is one of those treasures that never goes down in value or up in price. It’s a free gift to anyone that can learn that secret and apply it in their lives.