Yesterday we celebrated our daughter’s wedding to a wonderful man and family. Our daughter Kiara looked absolutely radiant with an interior joy; her now-husband Doug, was magnificent – strong, steady and adoring. Their evident love for each other lit up the church and the celebration that followed.
As parents of the bride we were afforded the opportunity to address the guests and we thought we’d share some of our thoughts with our readers.
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As a parent one spends a lifetime raising and then, in different ways, supporting and celebrating the lives of their children. We do not know whether they will marry, find a religious vocation or live a single life, but in all cases we pray and hope they find their calling and then live it to the full.
Each pathway is complicated but marriage has the added complexity and joy of being a joint project with someone you will never truly understand. It’s that journey of discovery that if you really understand the purpose of marriage, will never end.
I like to say I sleep with a different woman every night and while her name always seems to be Francine, if I take the time to notice there is always something different about her. She is certainly a different woman to the one I married aged 21; but every day there are small, and sometimes larger differences too.
This is the great challenge, the great mystery and the great magic of marriage; a man trying to understand a woman and a woman a man – so different in absolute terms as well as different in small ways every day – and yet made for each other.
So Kiara, find that different man every day in Doug. Doug, find that different woman every night; just remember her name has to be Kiara!
Marriage is also more than just two people joining their lives, it is also the intersection of two families. The generations who go before you are part of that journey; people you never met, some you have vague childhood memories of and of course those who are here today. We all remain there for you, but now it’s up to you.
Love generously, forgive well, listen carefully and hear with your eyes and heart. Your marriage will be a product of your will more than of your desire, so use every day well. Find a place for God in your marriage; there will be times when it will feel all too hard and that’s when you will most value God’s living presence.
Finally, can we say to all those assembled in this room, family and friends, some we know, some we don’t. Be there for them in the years ahead. Celebrate with them, laugh with them, cry with them. But most especially when times are challenging for them, listen with empathy, advise if you feel capable, but always turn them back to each other with humility, gentleness and hope.
Marriage is a wonderful, mysterious journey and with the grace of God, the prayers and support of family and good friends, it will be a magnificent one.