They say they will love, comfort, honor each other to the end of their days. They say they will cherish each other and befaithful to each other always. They say they will do these things not just when they feel like it, but even-for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health-when they don't feel like it at all. In other words, the vows they make at a marriage could hardly be more extravagant. They give away their freedom. They take on themselves each other's burdens. They bind their lives together in ways that are even more painful to unbind emotionally, humanly, than they are to unbind legally. The question is, what do they get in return?
They get each other in return. Assuming they have any success at all in keeping their rash, quixotic promises, they never have to face the world quite alone again. There will always be the other to talk to, to listen to. If they're lucky, even after the first passion passes, they still have a kindness and a patience to depend on, a chance to be patient and kind. There is still someone to get through the night with, to wake into the new day beside. If they have children, they can give them, as well as each other, roots and wings. If they don't have children, they each become the other's child.
They both still have their lives apart as well as a life together. They both still have their separate ways to find. But a marriage made in heaven is one where they become more richly themselves together than the chances are either of them could ever have managed to become alone. When Jesus changed the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, perhaps it was a way of saying more or less the same thing.
~originally published in Whistling in the Dark and later in Beyond Words