Columnist Valerie Schultz

Just when we think the world is going to hell in a hand basket, someone we love gets married. Last week that someone was my youngest daughter, who married her true love. She greeted the day with something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. She was our very own princess, blissful and beautiful, walking down the aisle on her father’s arm to be wedded to her prince.

Among all the stories of life, love stories are the best stories. A newly hatched marriage is a rite of passage for a love story. More seasons will follow this springtime of love, different, more complicated, but just as remarkable. For now, this couple steps into the salad days of their marriage. And the whole world is uplifted.

Although current statistics show that 40 percent to 50 percent of American marriages end in divorce, history is on the side of marriage. Couples have been marrying and creating new families together since before the flood. Kingdoms have united; dowries have been paid; unions have been arranged; star-crossed lovers have conquered all. The strength of the institution of marriage is that it has changed with the times, but it has not become irrelevant. Marital commitment is still solidly in style. And when a marriage embodies those time-honored vows, for better and for worse, through richer and poorer, through sickness and health, the deep devotion of that relationship really is only parted by death.

On the occasion of a wedding, the married among us remember what an incredible leap of faith it is, to tie your fortune and future to another human being who is just as imperfect as you are. In marriage, two spouses become a living, breathing Venn diagram: There are individual areas that remain separate, but the blessed shaded overlap illustrates the essential connection to each other. The intersection of the two living, breathing circles comprises what may be the perfect advice for married people: Remember to live; remember to breathe.

This newly married husband and wife take their place on the greenest branch of the family tree of marriages. The tree reaches for the sky; the planet expands; the ancestors applaud. The promises made on this wedding day will spark the unique growth and flowering of this marriage. I love the thought that all of us married couples who attended the wedding silently renewed our own vows. A wedding does that: We can’t help but think back on the hope and joy and excitement of our own wedding day. The sweet nostalgia of that moment quietly nurtures our own marriage. We feel lucky in love.

Our family members are of different faith traditions and different creeds, but that day we believed with all our strength in this one thing: this couple. These exchanged vows. These two becoming one. No matter the God or Force or Universal Intelligence we may have faith in, we sense the possibility of the eternal in a newborn marriage. We know that, in the beginning as in the end, love is bigger than we are. Love is the defining power of life. Marriage is a licensed and legal contract, of course, but it is love that truly binds us together.

The ceremony led to dancing, to eating and drinking, to toasting and celebrating, to laughing and hugging and posing for photos. We will always remember this day as one of family and friends and palpable harmony. This particular band of merrymakers may never be together in the same place again. But for this love story, the unity of this occasion is all that matters.

There’s a wedding in the family, this irreplaceable summer day, this brand-new inscription in the timeless covenant of love. The couple was enveloped in good wishes, cradled in joy. Here we go, I think, as my daughter and son-in-law dive into marriage. We have lift-off. We have love.

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