We all looked like typical bridesmaids as we walked around a carnival cruise ship, unashamedly sporting our bride/bridesmaids clad.
Our friend, Kayla was getting married in 3 weeks and it was time to celebrate her.
To make her the focus of our attention… and everyone elses.
Us, in our blue tank tops reading, “Last sail before the veil” and Kayla in white, “Bride to be”
As we were making our way for probably a third round of all you can eat cruise ship pizza, we heard a voice yell out,
“You getting married?”
Kayla perked up, her eyes searching for the face to match the voice.
She spun around “Yes! I am! 3 weeks away!”
The man who yelled out was older, with gray hair and wrinkled, overly sun kissed skin.
He huffed back “Ha, good luck.”
But, it’s that question and that answer that seemed to keep coming up throughout the weekend.
The question and response that I, along with many many others, have gotten as well.
The words of people trying to shift your heart from excitement for a life long partnership, to discouragement and disappointment.
“The old ball and chain.”
“Kiss your life goodbye.”
What even is that?
We celebrate for weekends, spend hundreds and thousands, yet a realm of people (even those who have been married decades) want to speak an inheritance of shame over you.
But in Kayla’s most Kayla fashion, she threw back a quick, sassy remark and ignored that man, focusing on the celebration.
I’ve always admired that about Kayla.
She and I roomed together for 2 years in college, years where she taught me how to be brave, how to laugh at life, and where she scolded me for not replacing the toilet paper on the roll.
It was in college that she met Matt, that handsome guy in the Khaki suit.
The guy that keeps her smiling and really keeps her laughing at everything in life.
Her perfect match. I think that watching Kayla and Matt’s relationship unfold into what it is today is what made me so excited to ask her about married life.
How’s it going?
What led y’all to this day?
What did you learn leading up to wedding day?
What is the Lord teaching you?
What marriages have you learned from?
Kayla shared such matter of fact answers with me.
Answers with mindset, not just fluffy cliches.
“It’s different living full time with another person that isn’t a parent or college roommate. This person needs your help getting through the day, relying on you as much as you rely on them.”
Remembering the art of thinking of someone else before thinking of yourself.
Kayla nailed it.
The two had to find a place to live, a last minute search where they wound up in Kayla’s parents camper or as Kayla calls it “my parents 5th wheel.”
Kayla laughs when she talks about it, referring to it as #camperlyfe
Her words: “We get this fun memory to always have and think back on. It’s easy to clean and we can’t run too far away from each other.”
Just her and Matt and a mindset that says “We have been provided for. We live close to one another. *insert a Kayla laugh* And it moves!
In all serious nature, Kayla can pull herself together from the laughter to look a person in the eyes and say “It’s worth it.”
Every hiccup, every moment that didn’t go as planned, every little inch of marriage is worth it because Matt is who partners with her in it.
She shared that growing up with parents who have been married 37 years, a couple she never watched fight made an impact on how she views marriage.
She loves Matt’s grandparents, who he loves and admires, and how their partnership has shaped his mind the gravity of marriage.
Kayla thinks about holidays.
Not worrying or wondering what town they’ll do Christmas in and who’s family they’ll join for Thanksgiving lunch.
She thinks about the fact that her holidays are spent with him.
No more separate Christmas.
No more Matt in one town and Kayla in another.
They get to have it together. Kayla talks about the Lord.
His faithfulness while she waited to marry Matt.
His faithfulness in providing a home for them.
His faithfulness in examples of strong marriages.
His faithfulness in her purity before marriage.
Kayla has seen the power of why the Lord asks us to abstain until marriage.
She openly discusses how the shift of single life and married life happens with “I Do” and a piece of jewelry.
How she’s processed the transition and what she’s learning from it all.
She has perspective, the kind that women need to hear.
The kind that every kid needs to hear about waiting and why it’s worth it.
Kayla even likes learning Matt’s habits and ticks.
She wants to know what he loves and what upsets him.
It’s all a part of the process, one that she sees as a consistent journey of learning.
Kayla never looked at marriage as a destination, but rather a starting point.
Where she can laugh at the fool who tells her “good luck.”In recent conversation we laughed about how people only ask you about married life when you first get married.
They want the scoop on how you’re adjusting, if he’s a nightmare or if there is truly bliss.
For some the question comes because they just don’t know what else to ask.
But together, we wondered what it would be like if we looked at a couple married 25 years and asked that question.
If that question is ever asked anymore.
Three weeks, three years, three decades long… How is married life?
Did you learn from the months that were really hard?
Where life wasn’t ideal?
Where you lived in a camper while you prayed for a new space.
Did you take notes when you learned how to communicate better and practice that?
Do you delight in holidays and the fact that it’s spent with one another or are you stewarding a negative mindset on where you have to go?
Are you loving one another with your words, actions, body, emotions?
Because yeah, that guy on the cruise ship probably dealt or is dealing with a marriage that never took note.
One that was hurtful and unfair.
A lot of people have.
But you get to make the choices that are best for YOUR marriage today.
To look at the home you live in as a place to be close.
To look at holidays as quality time with your spouse.
To thank God for provision of food on your table and a roof over your head.
To see your bodies as belonging to one another and celebrating that.
To look to marriages that have survived the ages and seek out wisdom and guidance.
To learn what your spouse loves and what they hate… and learn the art of giving them a life they love.
Thank you for celebrating tirelessly and giving us all another reason to be brave.
Kayla and Matt, you two have taken 4 weeks of marriage and taught the world around you how marriage is really going.
Photography:Jaclyn Nolin Photography
Makeup: Erin Bryson
Flowers: Haley Scott