“Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us together today,” and as soon as I tossed the bouquet, we ran down the steps of the church to Kent’s car. Immediately, a pickup truck skidded to a stop nearby and several of the groomsmen jumped out, grabbed Kent, threw him into the back, and took off. All I could do was stand and wonder if they’d return him anytime soon, and knowing that crew, that was definitely in question. Thankfully, after a lap around the block, they threw him out in front of me and we jumped into the car and sped off to our future. That’s the way the Smith Squad started, established February, 1984; we are family.
Our honeymoon in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee included snow skiing, ice skating, and sharing a stomach virus courtesy of one of the groomsmens’ kids. We came home to Montgomery on Friday night and ran out of gas on Southern Bypass. The car behind us realized we had trouble and stopped in time. The car behind them did not, nor did the one behind them, or the one behind them…well, you get the picture. Our car did not have a scratch on it. “That was an expensive tank of gas, Son,” is what one of the patrolmen told Kent, who admitted unhooking a sensor light to prevent it from being annoying until he could get another minor issue repaired. Welcome home.
Monday morning, Kent had a job interview in Tallahassee, Florida. He drove my new 1983 Cutlass Calais, the one with the T-tops. On the way home, he missed a stop sign in the rain and was t-boned by a Nissan Maxima. Our car was drive-able, but he didn’t tell me about his accident until he drove up to our apartment. I simultaneously saw the side of the car and him sitting inside– dejectedly steeling himself to come in and break the news to me about it. All I could think was, I’m so glad he’s okay.
Were we sick about the car? Yes, but it was, after all, just a car. Cars can be replaced, people cannot. We did jokingly wonder whether we were meant to get married, though, after the events of that first week. We did get the car repaired and kept it until after youngest was born, when we realized three car seats simply would not fit in a two-door sports car.
“That bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam.”
A good friend always used to tell me how she hated the old Disney animated movies where the bride and groom rode off into the sunset to live ‘happily ever after.’ She always said it painted an unrealistic picture of marriage. I agree. To succeed and to be all it’s intended to be, a good marriage is work–hard, consistent, sacrificial work. It’s being willing to listen, willing to give, and willing to forgive–even when neither one feels like it or deserves it. A good marriage is built on day-in-and-day-out commitment, sharing, putting each other before self, and learning to trust, realizing we are family and we are committed to be there for each other.
If I said the past thirty-nine years had been easy, that would be an out and out lie. We’ve been through pregnancy, sleepless nights with sick kids, and nights when no sleep was had because we were furious with each other. We’ve gone through job changes and job loss, marriage enrichment and marriage counseling, seasons of pushing each other away and seasons of holding each other together, miscarriage, health crises, caring for parents and losing parents, seasons of plenty and seasons of ‘”how are we ever going to pay for this?”
The key word here is “We.” Through all of it, we have been committed to the bottom line that we are family. We are in this together. And “God is in our story.” That common thread has run through all of our thirty-nine years together.
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” (Phillipians 1:6 NIV) Sometimes we’ve done it His way, sometimes we haven’t, but we’ve always looked back to see that even on our worst days, He was there. We were the ones who moved. We’ve learned that we are family, and in order to preserve that, He needs to be the head of our household.
My best advice in marriage and in life? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
We had a discussion the other day about whether we’d like to go back to our younger selves and start over again, given the chance. We both said, “Nope, we are much wiser now. We’ll keep what we have.” We are who we are because of where we’ve been and all that we’ve come through. We’re good with that. We’d like to “keep moving forward.”
The Smith Squad, Established 1986. We are family.
Happy Anniversary, My Love! Here’s to many more!
Mawage quotes from The Princess Bride, 1987, 20th Century Fox
“Keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King and Walt Disney
“We Are Family,” 1979, Sister Sledge, written by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards
“God is in this Story,” Katy Nicole & Big Daddy Weave, written by Ethan Hulse and Jeff Pardo