Marriage and Gratefulness

I have been thinking again lately about gratefulness and marriage.  We’ve been journeying with some dear friends who are separating and I am again struck by how blessed we have been.  There are no guarantees in life and marriage despite how hard people try sometimes and I am humbled by the realisation that “by the grace of God go I”.  Despite this awareness I’m always astounded at how quickly I can become negative, anxious and cranky about such insignificant stuff really.  Anyway, in thinking about this I read over the speech I wrote for our ten year anniversary and I thought I would put it here as a reminder to me to focus on gratefulness and for anyone who didn’t make it who might be interested.

In the lead up to this party we have had many discussions with people about why we chose to put on such an event for our anniversary.  It may just be that we like parties and dancing – we met in Peru and in Peru they party and dance for everything – but mostly we want to give thanks.  Marriage is such a privelege.  I was very lucky to meet someone at all who actually wanted to marry me (and that I was allowed to marry) but that he has daily chosen to love me, be faithful, mostly kind and stay with me, I have more and more come to recognise, especially in my current line of work, is an enormous privelege.   And thus I am here with no sense of victory (for ten years is really just the beginning anyway) but filled with so much gratitude and a deep sense that by the grace of God go I.

Over the years we have been married, I have read lots of books about marriage and spoken to people about how to make a marriage work but by far the best advice I have heard is to be grateful – to daily give thanks for your partner.  It easy for all us to forget to give thanks, I don’t do it nearly enough but anniversaries are a reminder to everyone to give thanks so we decided to put on a party.

I met Martin when I was 20 and we were married two years later.   I didn’t make a lot of good decisions when I was young and many people, myself included, thought that maybe this would be another one of my bad decisions but thankfully it was the best decision I ever made.  When I think about who I was at 20 and how the last ten years could have gone I realise I should actually give thanks for Martin 100 times a day.

I also want to give thanks to all of you.  Our marriage has always taken place in the context of community, and you have all supported us immensely.  Marriage is not always easy and we have had our fair shares of failures but we have received so much support.  I believe as a culture we are not always as good at supporting marriage as we are at showing up at weddings but in our case it has not been like that – you our friends, family and community have shown up for us in the good and bad times and we are eternally grateful.  And you have shown up tonight, many have travelled a long way so thank you especially to those of you who have made the long trip from Sydney and  Melbourne, we are so happy you are here.  We wish that family and friends from Peru could have made it too, they have been a huge part of this journey.   Unfortunately they couldn’t but I want to acknowledge them, for it is hard for us and them to be so far away.  I am so happy that Erika could be here, Martin’s cousin from Peru to represent the whole family.

I also want to acknowledge a few others.  Firstly, my family, mum, dad, Keith, Gem – wow what could I say.  You guys are simply the best, you have listened to so much ranting about the hard stuff and made so much of the good stuff possible.  You have always accepted us as we are and again I more and more realise what a rare gift that is.  Thank you to Jo, Jem, Tom and Ryan who lived with us in a community house in Enmore in the very early days of our marriage, it was such a formative time for us all as we explored community together and worked out our values and how we wanted to live our lives.  Martin and I were a bit of a mess then as we worked out what it meant to be married and Martin to live in this country so thanks for putting up with us.  Thank you to Libby, Ryan, Xanthan, Ben and Fi who have lived in community with us here at Honeymoon Gap.  You have all been such a support especially with Nina and Clayton and have made life here such a joy.  Again acknowledge mum and Keith for making it all possible.  And thank you to John and Marilyn and the beautiful Cavanagh girls who also live here with us and have shared their lives, their wisdom and who inspired us to move here in the first place .  And now John and Marilyn what an adventure we are on as we share the care of Clayton – how grateful we are to you for allowing us to be part of his life in this way.  Thank you to our new friends in Alice you all make life richer.  I’ll resist the temptation to name you all as I realise this is getting tedious and the most important thank yous are still ahead.

Nina and Clayton.  Thank you.  You two are by far the greatest gift we have ever received.  I would like to say that you always get the best of us, you certainly deserve it, but you don’t always so thank you for putting up with us and teaching us how to be more patient, reminding us how to play and be in the present moment and showing us the deepest love we have ever known.

And finally, thank you Martin.  Thank you for loving me and rarely trying to change me, you truly accept people as they are more than anyone I know.  Again you deserve the best of me but unfortunately you often get the worst so thank you for your graciousness.  Thank you for your kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and generosity, by just being you, you have pushed me to places and people that I never thought I’d go.  Thank you for all the adventures we have had from Peru to Sydney and now here to Alice, it’s all been richer with you by my side.  It hasn’t all gone to plan, we are not where we thought we’d end up but thank you for trusting and being willing to change and grow along the way.  Your courage and enthusiasm through it all has given me strength to do the same.  Thank you for being the best dad ever.  I really love you and give thanks to God for you, our family and our life together, that despite the hard stuff has been truly blessed and has been infinitely more than I could have asked or imagined.