I remember my wedding day like it was yesterday: putting on that freshly pressed, pristine white wedding gown, carrying a beautiful bouquet of fresh red roses adorned with sweet, tiny baby’s breath, and marching gracefully down the aisle to the famous wedding march with all my friends admiring the beauty of my dress. That day, I actually felt like a princess going to meet my handsome prince.
That was eight years ago, and my beautiful white wedding gown has been nestled away in a garment bag in the back of my closet–neglected and forgotten. The other day, while doing some much needed housecleaning, I removed the dress from the closet, took it out of the bag it had been living in all these years, shook it out, and hung it up to admire it once more.
Standing a few feet back with my hand to my chin, examining the now faded, slightly yellowing gown, I couldn’t help but think how it was somehow a metaphor for my marriage.
Marriages all start out much like the freshly pressed, pristine white wedding gown. A relationship that is optimistic and hopeful for a future full of joy and happiness together. A relationship full of first: the first Christmas together, first Valentine’s day, first anniversary, first child, vacation… However, like the dress, the marriage soon gets nestled away in a closet somewhere—neglected and forgotten.
Upon closer examination of the gown removed from the garment bag, I noticed it was crumpled and wrinkled, not at all smooth or freshly pressed and perfect as it was the day I wore it. Sadly, marriage is often the same. As time goes on–if left unattended and neglected–the relationship also becomes crumpled and wrinkled. The strong, endearing bond once shared by the happy couple give way to the anger and frustration that comes with the responsibilities of marriage: paying bills, taking care of a house, managing schedules, getting in and out of debt, raising children…The couple tends to be so overwhelmed with the day-to-day living, they forget they once loved each other with a passion so strong they couldn’t imagine a day without the other person in it. Arguments begin to ensue over trivial matters and, just like the dress that gets pushed further back in the closet, the couple’s emotions for one-another get buried so deep in their hearts, they soon forget they once loved and adored each other at all.
I twirled the dress around on the hanger and noticed it had several stains located throughout the garment; stains that were not there when I stored it away eight years earlier. Somehow, over time, the ugly marks had accumulated in the bag because of my neglect and carelessness and had ruined my beautiful, white wedding gown. The sight of the stains saddened me and pierced my heart, reminding me of how perfect everything was in the beginning. As time passes by, marriages often get a lot of the same kind of stains. Some stains can be cleaned up and forgotten, other stains leave permanent damage that can never be erased. If a couple does not take the time to nourish one another, care for one another, love one another, forgive one another, and—most importantly– put their spouse’s needs ahead of their own when possible. Like the dress, the stains on the relationship become so ugly the marriage is ruined.
My dress didn’t have to become crumpled, wrinkled, and stained. If I had taken the time to put the dress away properly, tend to it throughout the years, and clean up any stains that might have gotten on the garment, it would have been as beautiful and perfect as the day I wore it. Marriage is much the same as the wedding dress; if the couple tends to the relationship throughout their years together, if they don’t neglect it, if they iron out any wrinkles that come along, if they clean up all stains that make its way into their lives, then the couple will love and cherish each other long after the rings are in place, the cake has all been eaten, the guest are long gone, and the wedding clothes have been properly put away.