I had the most profound conversation with my 4-year-old daughter just a few minutes ago. This is how it went:
Meleana: Mommy, why do you and Daddy have rings on your fingers?
Me: Because we’re married to each other. It means we’re going to be together forever and ever.
Me. Because we love each other.
Me: Because God gave us to each other. God gave your Daddy to me to take care of me.
Me: Because sometimes I can’t take care of myself.
Meleana: When me and Therese are big like you, we’re gonna get married too…just like you and Daddy.
Me: You want to get married?
Me: Do you want to have babies after you get married, like I had babies?
Meleana: Yeah. But me and Therese don’t have babies because our tummies are small!
Me: If you and Therese get married, we have to pray that you’ll have good husbands, just like Daddy. Does Daddy help take good care of me?
Meleana (nodding her head): Mmm hmm.
Me: Do you want a good husband to help take care of you, just like Daddy takes care of me?
Meleana (nodding her head): Mmm hmm. But me and Therese don’t want to be alone here all by ourself.
Me: You won’t be alone. That’s why Daddy is here to take care of you when I go to work.
Meleana: But when you and Daddy go away and me and Therese get married in the Church, we don’t want to be alone by ourself.
Me (tearing up): Lea, when Mommy and Daddy go to Heaven, we’ll always pray for you. It’s okay, you won’t be alone.
This isn’t the first time Lea has asked about our wedding rings. Our little girl understands more than we realize. She knows the rings Gary and I wear are important…that they mean something to both of us. She knows we have a special relationship with each other…that being married is good…and that we get married in the Church because that’s just what we do.
One day the world will show her that not all marriages last forever…that people rush into a lifetime commitment way too quickly…and that not all men are good husbands. I just pray that she will always appreciate what marriage is supposed to be from the example that Gary and I leave her and her siblings.
Sometimes I get scared when I think about our children growing up. I don’t want them to lose their innocence and I would love to be able to save them from getting hurt. But reality proves that we can’t shelter them from everything and make every decision for them regarding their futures. My husband and I are trying our best to provide a good faith foundation for them so they will learn how to discern what the best choices are for their lives. We talk to them about their feelings and listen to what they have to say. They know we love them even though we don’t let them have or do whatever they want.
So when the day comes that they come to us to let us know there is a “special someone” in their lives, we can only hope and pray that they have also listened to everything we had to teach them about what real love is…what the promise in marriage is really all about…and how we have loved each other through the good times and bad, in sickness and in health, until death and into forever and ever.
I didn’t marry you because you were perfect.
I didn’t even marry you because I loved you.
I married you because you gave me a promise.
That promise made up for your faults.
And the promise I gave you made up for mine.
Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage.
And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them – it was that promise.
– Thornton Wilder