On this day in 1988, at 11:00 a.m., my college sweetheart and I married each other. We got married in Greenwood, South Carolina, in the same church where my parents got married and where my grandfather had been pastor for several decades before he retired--my parents will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in October 2012. We chose an early wedding time because we had family and friends who would be facing a long drive after our wedding. We had the reception in the church fellowship hall.
After a quick honeymoon in Asheville, it was back to grad school. In some ways, our lives didn't change much. In some ways, our lives would never be the same.
Most couples can probably say the same thing. They can probably point to storms weathered and unpleasant truths discovered. They can probably point to support, both expected and unexpected. They can probably talk about changes, both important and unimportant.
As I look back, I'm somewhat amazed at how young we were. I had just turned 23, and he would be 24 in September. Did we know what we were getting into? Does anyone ever?
As I look back at our wedding, and I think about weddings now, I'm amazed at what a beautiful wedding we had for such a tiny sum of money (less than $1000). Part of it was my insistence that the wedding not cost much, coupled with my mom's desire for a beautiful day. Part of it was that we were married in a small town church, where we didn't have to rent a hall or pay huge costs for a meal or incur the costs that come with alcohol.
That was such a long time ago that we haven't even digitized those pictures. So, I can't share the picture of my grandmother ironing my wedding dress. You can't see my face as I sipped the champagne that my parents had bought when they were stationed in France and saved for their daughter's wedding. Champagne was not meant to be aged for 23 years! You can't look at pictures of all of us as very young people.
Once, a dinner guest looked at our wedding pictures and said, "Look, pictures from your first marriage."
In some ways, it feels that way: we're both older now, so different. And yet, we're still so much the same.
If I could travel back in time, what would I tell those crazy kids? I'd say, "Go ahead. Get married. Make that commitment in front of God, your family, and your friends. You'll make some sacrifices, but it's better to go through life with a supportive person by your side than to be out there alone."
I know that I've been lucky. We've been through some hard times, but they could have been worse. I've been lucky in that I'm allowed to marry the one I love with the benefits that come from that. We've been lucky in that one of us has always been fully employed, even if we've rarely both been fully employed at the same time. I'm lucky in that we both have simple wants and needs. Our marriage would not have survived if one of us had been the type of person who got our self-worth from having more and more expensive stuff. I'm lucky in that we've both changed, but not in directions that made continued marriage impossible.
I'm hoping for another 23 years of luck and love. I'm hoping for love for us all in these difficult times, in whatever form(s) we'd like that love to take.
Loving Lilly Ledbetter
1 day ago