Over-Marrying

On this day 40 years ago Kathy and I were wed. As the years roll by, we’ve never gotten over the wonder of feeling we over-married.

I first met Kathy in the fall of 1979. She had just joined Campus Crusade and was assigned to Louisiana State University, where I was the Crusade director. We worked together for a few years, becoming good friends. Then we began dating.

That lasted about three days. Then I broke up with Kathy. It was self-preservation. Three years before, I had broken off an engagement. Painful. Kathy was my best friend. It pained me to think I could possibly lose her friendship by dating her.

That lasted about five days. I came to my senses. We resumed what quickly became romantic love. We were engaged five weeks later, got married on August 16, 1981. Between engagement and wedding, I began to sense I was over-marrying.

I felt it when we first visited my family. I’m a klutz, broke something and one of my sibs made a sarcastic swipe. It hurt but another sib dismissed it: You know how brothers are. Kathy replied, “No, I don’t.” Wow. I sensed I was over-marrying.

Over-marrying is when you feel you got the better end of the deal and your spouse feels they got the better end of the deal. Over-marrying is never getting over wonder.

I’m boring you with the details because we’ve never gotten over the wonder of feeling we over-married. Kathy is far more the woman that I could have ever hoped for (or certainly deserved). Kathy feels the same. We’re best friends—adult to adult—lovers.

That’s not par for the course. Most marriages begin plateauing after a few years. Routines become ruts. Wonder wanes. I’ve also seen how the average marriage is not adult to adult. One acts more as adult, the other a child. Kathy and I were both raised in this sort of home, albeit my father was the adult in mine; her mother the adult in her family. We’ve had to work through these differences in growing together.

And we have. And continue to. We’ve come to see if wonder wanes, the wheels fall off (or at least begin to grind). As our wonder grows, I’ve come to cherish Madeleine L’Engle’s poem, “To a Long-Loved Love.” I used to try reading it to our kids at Christmastime but my eyes were clouded with tears. So now I simply include it in my annual Christmas letter to our kids.

And so I close with “To a Long-Loved Love.” It’s written to Hugh Franklin, Madeleine’s husband. They married in 1946. Hugh passed away in 1986. For 40 years, they felt like they had over-married. Just like Kathy and I feel after 40 years.

 

We, who have seen the new moon grow old together,

Who have seen winter rime the fields and stones

As though it would claim earth and water forever,

We who have known the touch of flesh and the shape of bones

Know the old moon stretching its shadows across a whitened field

More beautiful than spring with all its spate of blooms;

What passion knowledge of tried flesh still yields,

What joy and comfort these familiar rooms.

 

In the moonless, lampless dark now of this bed

My body knows each line and curve of yours;

My fingers know the shape of limb and head:

As pure as mathematics ecstasy endures.

Blinded by night and love we share our passion,

Certain of burning flesh, of living bone:

So feels the sculptor in the moment of creation

Moving his hands across the uncut stone.

 

I know why a star gives light

Shining quietly in the night;

Arithmetic helps me unravel

The hours and years this light must travel

To penetrate our atmosphere.

I can count the craters on the moon

With telescopes to make them clear.

With delicate instruments I can measure

The secrets of barometric pressure.

 

And therefore I find it inexpressibly queer

That with my own soul I am out of tune,

And that I have not stumbled on the art

Of forecasting the weather of the heart.

 

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3 Comments

  1. I love the memories! I met my wife’s parents as they visited the church we attended and her dad strapped on an apron to join church members serving Sunday’s “college lunch” to students after services. Who serves without being asked? I need to marry into this family. And so I did. I’m curious about the last lines of the poem – must prove I have a corrupted romance gene. “And therefore I find it inexpressibly queer, That with my own soul I am out of tune, And that I have not stumbled on the art, Of forecasting the weather of the heart.” I would have thought this couple could forecast the weather of the heart a month into the future. These souls seem in tune, not out of tune. What have I missed?

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