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My lover is mine, and I am his. Song of Solomon 2:16

Chris and I were engaged on February 14, 1984, 30 years ago. And we’re still here—together, married.

It was a lovely romantic evening at the historic Summit House in Jersey City, NJ. I had an inkling. Chris and I had been together for four years…we had been talking about marriage. I had my reservations. Not about Chris. About timing.

Were we ready?

Had we lived enough of our life apart to live the rest of our lives together? << click to tweet

And what about money?

We didn’t have enough to buy a home…would we ever?

But here we were. The candles flickered. We perused the menu…ordered, ate a delicious meal. Did we want dessert? Yes…

Time to exchange a few little gifts. I don’t remember now what I gave Chris. But oh yes, I remember what he gave me.

There was a sachet of silk, hand screened, with the earthy sweet fragrance of lavender. A small heart-shaped red box of Russell Stover chocolates. And a smaller box, striped, with a gold lid. I knew Chris didn’t have quite enough money for a diamond ring.

Instead there was a small inexpensive gold-filled ring with a tiny fake diamond. It was simple, but lovely.  A small cardboard tag was attached with a string, “Ceremonial Purposes Only: A sign of things (and rings) to come.”

“Will you marry me?” This came after a halting awkward chat about how we knew one another well. We had discussed this, now seemed like a good time.

“Yes, Yes…Of course, yes. I’ll marry you.”

He placed the little ring on my finger.

And while the ring was for ceremonial purposes only, the commitment we were making was definitely real. << click to tweet

I was so happy. This was so what I wanted. I loved Chris deeply. And he loved me.

We had already weathered a few tests, faced a few challenges. I met Chris when he was sad, disappointed, devastated really in the wake of a dissolved relationship. His daughter, just two years old at the time, was now six. Was I ready to become a stepmother?

We set a date. Chose a venue. I found my dress and the bridesmaid dresses. Flowers picked. Menu planned. Marriage Encounter (marriage-prep weekend) completed. I even got my “real” ring…a beautiful vintage setting with a lovely diamond and two tiny emeralds.

Nine months of preparation led to the big day…The day of our marriage ceremony.

But this was not just for ceremonial purposes. We were making a commitment, a vow, before God, friends, families, and to each other. Forever.

Now it’s 30 years later. There have been many challenges. At times we really didn’t know if we could make it through without breaking. There were times we didn’t want to fight for our marriage any more…didn’t know if it was worth it.

Turns out it was worth it. Because this is real…this old love. And that ring? It wasn’t really only for ceremonial purposes.

No on that Valentine’s Day…that most romantic of days…a day of chocolate and flowers and heart-felt sentiment expressed…on that Valentine’s Day, our Engagement Day…It wasn’t just a day of ceremony. It marks the day that the gritty daily work of a lifetime commitment began.

I’d love to hear about your marriage story. Please share in the comments.


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Elise Daly Parker has been married for 28 years and is mom to four mostly grown girls. She is a writer, editor, writing coach, and blogger. She believes we all have stories that matter--big life bios and small meaningful moments. Elise believes our stories are a reflection of God’s glory and are meant to be shared. They have the power to inform, reform, and transform. She loves God, family, friends...and really likes travel!

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