I wrote this post August 20th. I realize this is a bit late to post it, but the sentiments still hold true, even if it isn’t our anniversary anymore!
Yesterday was our 4-year anniversary. Well, actually, it was the day before our anniversary back in the States. But here in Taiwan, it was our anniversary. Living in a different timezone than the one you were raised in and got married in gets confusing sometimes!
I had a simple but nice meal planned: panfried chicken (one of the hubby’s favorites), sweet potato greens (pretty much the best thing ever!), and rice with mango sorbet for dessert. Then, the evening fell apart. First, the hubby came home sick and tired. Next, I discovered that the chicken I had bought only the day before smelled as foul as, well, rotten fowl.
Not to be daunted, I went out to buy our favorite fried chicken from a local street-side vendor. This stuff is amazing! Fried chicken, sweet potato fries, shoestring fries, fried green beans, fried mushrooms, fried cauliflower—it’s delicious!
As I was walking to the chicken shop (unaware at that point that my plans would need to change yet again), I considered how much like marriage this anniversary was. Sometimes, you have perfect, beautiful days when everything falls into place. Sometimes, you don’t.
We’ve had our share of lovely moments. There’s the dinner we had just this summer at an out-of-the-way, family-owned Italian restaurant we stumbled onto on our last night in the UK. The restaurant was in Slough, the unwanted, ugly suburb of London. Despite its location, it was a perfect, romantic evening that neither of us will soon forget.
Going further back, there’s the first breakfast we shared as a married couple. We sat out on the porch at our Bed and Breakfast. It was a working farm on a long, private, dirt lane in the countryside. The farmer’s wife served us homemade buttermilk pancakes, and we enjoyed the good food and sunshine, excited for the journey to come.
Even further back than that, there’s our first date, tea in the park. I still remember the way he leaned his back against my shoulder while he talked about poetry and life. For a moment, I lost my breath. I couldn’t focus on all the wonderful, insightful things he was saying. My universe consisted of three things—him, me, and the sunshine.
We’ve had many lovely, perfect moments throughout our time together. We’ve also had unlovely, imperfect ones. Here are a few: the time we got lost and fought on our way to Biltmore, rainy days on our honeymoon when I got very grumpy, years of searching for a better job, an anniversary last year that wasn’t even celebrated because we were too exhausted and jet-lagged to think much beyond bed and the next exhausting school day, heartaches, frustrations, fights, hopes deferred and deferred again, and now an anniversary seemingly ruined by rotten chicken and an exhausted husband.
Our anniversary evening continued in its imperfections. When I got to the chicken place, I discovered it was inexplicably closed. There was a dumpling place nearby, but when dumplings are a dime a dozen (actually they are more like $2 a dozen), that hardly seems special. Thankfully, a favorite Peking Duck place around the corner saved the day. We hadn’t visited it since coming back from the UK. To be honest, it was probably a better idea than the supper I was planning on making in the first place.
So I got home. We ate our Peking Duck, curled up on the couch together, and watched a movie (something we hadn’t done in awhile). The evening wasn’t perfect, but it was our evening. We were together.
I can remember grumpy days as a child when my dad would tell me to straighten out my attitude. “But I’m having a bad day,” I would complain, expecting him to understand my excuse. “Your day is what you make it,” he would respond, expecting me to do right no matter my circumstances.
Sometimes we can’t change those circumstances but we can change our reactions to them. Readers of this blog know that I liken imperfections in life to freckles, a mar on the face of perfection but a mar that can be beautiful. Marriage has its freckles. It’s up to us to make those freckles beautiful. If we look for marriage to perfectly meet our needs and make us constantly incandescently happy, we’ll probably be constantly unfulfilled and unhappy.
In conclusion, I guess the theme of this post is this. When life hands you rotten chicken make Peking Duck.
Ok. That just sounds disgusting. Let’s try again.
When marriage hands you freckles, go out and buy some Peking Duck.
Still not quite right. Let’s try one more time.
My marriage is what I make it or what I allow God to make out of it.
Note: I realize that saying “My marriage is what I make it” can seem insensitive to those in harmful, hurtful relationships. I’ve witness enough of the heartbreak that stems from these relationships to know you can’t oversimplify the response. Any advice that I offer here is primarily advice I’m offering myself. I don’t pretend to have insight into the married lives of others.
I do believe, though, that no matter the brokenness and heartache, God can make something beautiful out of your life.