“Then Isaac … took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her.” Genesis 24:67a (ESV)
Nine years ago today, my wife and I married each other. Our actual wedding was really just the beginning, and looking back at the time since that day, I can appreciate the wisdom of the old vows we made that day. We’ve known sickness and health and experienced better and worse. While not poverty, we’ve even tried to live out of our freezer for two weeks as an economizing measure. Through it all, my love for her has deepened and spread.
Why? There has been nothing to distinguish us from any other couple who has gotten married. The snippet from Genesis above has stuck in my mind as I have thought about my marriage, and why I think of myself as “more married” today than I was nine years ago.
The quote comes at the end of a long chapter explaining how Isaac gets a wife. Isaac himself has no involvement in the process, as Abraham entrusts the whole thing to one of his servants. The servant finds s suitable woman, bring her back to Abraham’s camp, and Isaac is summoned. He marries Rebekah, and then he loves her.
Did you catch that? Isaac married Rebekah, and then he loved her. That is not how we usually think of marriage. The wedding is supposed to be a celebration of love. In deciding to get marries, the couple has reached the apex of love. Marriage is the condition subsequent of love. Isaac and Rebekah have it in reverse: love as the apex of marriage. He married her, and then he loved her. The love came after the commitment.
My love can be fickle. There are moments of when I do not view my wife with dewy-eyed sentiment. Sometimes I know we have both questioned what we are doing with each other. We have hurt each other terribly. Singleness can be so much easier. Yet we remain married.
Each day, I have a choice: I can be married to my wife, or not. Each day I must make the choice to love her. For these reasons, I can say that our marriage has grown, and with it, my love for my wife. That commitment to our relationship, and its daily renewal, grounds me to love, and it is that commitment I come back to whenever I am feeling less than romantic. When in doubt, wash the dishes.
The more I do this, the more I find that I love my wife. We have created memories, points of contact that bind us together. I love because I commit, and I commit because I love. Each branch of action feeds the other, but it starts with commitment.
I’ll close with words not my own. They belong to the poet Anne Dudley Bradstreet, written of her marriage, but hey speak of mine, too.
“To My Dear and Loving Husband”
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov’d by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of Gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.
Then while we live, in love lets so persevere,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.