wedding album: a marriage parable

Breakfast, day before the wedding, the couple and their parents considered last minute details.

Using her parent’s album, the bride was describing the alterations made in order to wear her mother’s wedding dress when a puzzled look came upon the face of the groom. Susan, mother of the bride, followed his gaze to an old, tattered, but treasured piece of paper that had slipped to the floor.

Turning to the last five pictures, Susan told this story:

For John and Susan, adjustment to marriage, though not always easy, had been a romantic adventure.

After their daughter was born, Susan began to fight the battle of the bulge. “Why don’t you try exercise or something,” John would say and Susan never felt like she measured up as a wife. Romance faded into the daily grind.

“What a great idea” John thought as he fit into his tuxedo with no problem, “wearing our wedding clothes for a fifth anniversary picture to add to the wedding album.” Waiting for his “bride,” John showed the photographer where the picture would fit into the album.

“That was the first time this paper slipped out of the album” John interjected into his wife’s story.

“He was still reading those vows when I came down the stairs apologizing I couldn’t get the back to button on my wedding dress. I was so afraid what John would say. With tears falling from his cheek onto the word ‘cherish’, he used his words in a way I didn’t expect. Instead of complaining, he turned the moment into a magical comedy.”

Susan showed the picture of two people laughing and learning to accept one another completely.

Exercise helped. So, as the tenth anniversary approached, Susan tried on her wedding gown. It fit perfectly. She arranged the photographer as a surprise to cheer up her husband, a surprise John did not anticipate.

Their son was having problems in school. A parent had died and John had lost his job. Life seemed to be caving in all around.

Waiting, Susan noticed the tear stains on the paper that had slipped out of the album five years before. Tears fell again, this time on the phrase, ‘for better, for worse’, as Susan wrote about her love for a better father, friend and husband than she had anticipated when first she took those vows. She slid the letter under the bedroom door.

Susan showed the 10th anniversary picture, a man and a woman sharing the warm embrace of love blossoming in times of difficulty.

Years passed. Life seemed good until the accident happened. Susan was so limited that John was overwhelmed. He did it all; driving, cooking, shopping. Anger and bitterness became part of his life. “Why had their daughter suggested repeating this stupid tradition?” John thought as she went to help Susan into the wedding dress. Once again the vows brought tears as internally he renewed his vow “in sickness and in health.”

The awkward picture Susan showed, John leaning over the wheelchair to kiss his ‘bride,’ represented a turning point for the family. It was among the most treasured pictures.

Susan recovered 100%. John felt comfortable putting in more hours at work to make up time he had missed. The extra money helped. His secretary was efficient, pleasant and cute. Had she purposely dropped the files and let her cheek touch his as he helped clean up? Remembering his ‘oath of devotion to you alone’, John resolved there would be no tear stains added to the paper that year. His cute secretary ‘couldn’t believe’ John was old enough to celebrate his 20th anniversary as he left early to help get things ready on time.

The camera captured a husband of ever-growing integrity and a wife who felt more secure than ever before.

Already feeling the financial pinch of college tuition, they lost most of their savings when John’s company went under. There was no money to celebrate a silver anniversary, but the kids had seen their parents work and sacrifice together all their lives. Along with a promise to help pay their own way through college, the kids arranged the photographer.

Susan showed everyone in the basement the silver anniversary family picture,  labeled “for richer, for poorer.”

A decision was made in the basement after Susan shared her story that created a lifelong bond among all the families.

The next day, two older couples and one just beginning their journey, looked in reverence at the tear stained paper from which the pastor read the wedding vows.

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