by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.

I want to talk about marriage. And not because it’s a political, social and religious hot topic .I just want to talk about what marriage is to me. Not what it could be or should be or isn’t.

I know I’ve said this before, but my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year. I suppose this is still worthy of recognition since the odds remain at 50-50 for marriages to end in divorce.

I wanted to be the first in my family who didn’t get a divorce. And… it looks like I’ve made it. These past 25 years have taught me much about the love that makes marriage go round and round.

I had heard that love often comes when you aren’t looking for it. Such was true for me. Toward the end of my college years, it happened in an unexpected moment. I fell in love with John while standing in line for an amusement park ride. City girl meets country boy. Seven months later, we married.

Of course, I admit “love at first sight” is ignited by infatuation. But a spark can grow into a blazing fire when given proper attention.

To me, marriage is a love story. It’s a union of two hearts. Not a way of life, but life itself. I believe when husbands and wives live love, they give eternal life to their marriage.

In his definition of love in his letters to the Corinthians, Paul explains how to live love. He says that love is patient and kind. Love is not proud or self-seeking. Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Love always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Love never tires of loving.

God is love. The source of love — kindness, compassion, affection. So of course, husbands and wives must be children of love. Both are unique and individual expressions of this love. This knowledge has helped me pray through moments when I was tempted to see my husband (or myself) as anything but the expression of God’s love.

God has created us capable of expressing love. Understanding this has helped me see that it is my nature to choose and live love. With love as my center, it has become natural to choose patience instead of frustration. Empathy instead of criticism. Joy instead of sadness. Peace of mind instead of anger. Trust instead of doubt. Forgiveness instead of condemnation.

Remember, I am sharing my conclusions about love and marriage after 25 years of practice. No doubt, my view has been shaped by years of progress, prayer and many tender lessons.

In marriage, two people choose to come together to honestly share their lives with each other. Being together is effortless. Being together is so enjoyable you want time to stand still.

Marriage is “being there” for each other. Taking care of each other. Making the other person feel special. Knowing what is needed without being asked.

Communication in marriage is a sweet interchange of openness and respect. Giving each other encouragement is the greatest of all gifts.

Having fun together and laughing together is natural in marriage. Laughter keeps us from taking our own point of view too seriously. Laughter can break the spell of anger or frustration. In fact, laughter helps me fulfill my grandmother’s advice, “Never go to bed mad.”

Romantic getaways and vacations nurture the love story — even if they last only moments. But they are moments for the husband and wife exclusively — walking in the park holding hands or having a candlelight dinner together. Or if you live in the country like we do — having a rendezvous in a hay truck parked next to the stock pond surrounded by cows is pretty darn nice, too.

Marriage is strengthened by trust. Enriched by passion. Brightened by sweet surprises.

Yes, I do love being married. So, how could I not talk about what I love most in my life!