Dear 2005 Walter,
This is your 2015 self, transmitting back ten years from the day you take your vows and wed Carrie.
I know exactly what you’re thinking. I know what questions and doubts tug at the fringes of your mind. I know what self-assurances counteract those doubts. I know, because I was there.
While I don’t want to give away too many spoilers regarding the decade before you, I would like to share some words of encouragement which will come in handy throughout the years to come.
First, here’s the bad news. Right now, you think that today won’t change anything. You think that shacking up with Carrie these past few years has been essentially no different than being married. You think that, once all the pomp and circumstance has subsided, the two of you will settle back into your comfortable routines as if nothing of significance has happened. You are wrong.
Sure, in the short term, there will be little circumstantial difference between your day-to-day last week and your day-to-day after the honeymoon. But outward circumstance isn’t the first or most important thing that changes.
Up until now, whether you’ve been keen to acknowledge it or not, there has always been an escape hatch in your relationship. You haven’t wanted to go. You’ve never even entertained the possibility. That surety is a big part of why you are wearing a tux today. However, after today, you will become keenly aware that the escape hatch has shut. The finality of it, the permanence, will begin to loom on the horizon of your consciousness.
The effect will be an enhancement of your annoyance. Things which didn’t bother you before, or at least didn’t bother you enough to warrant reaction, will suddenly bother you a lot. In the back of your mind, you will know that you can’t get away. Before, there was an option. You didn’t seriously consider that option. But it was there. It’s being there provided some distant comfort. Everything was chosen, and you renewed your consent each day. But from now on, the choice will have been made once and for all, and you have to deal with it or break a sacred vow.
That’s not even the bad news. That’s just the prologue to the bad news. Here’s the actual bad news. Dark days are ahead, lots of them, the worst either of you have ever seen. These dark days will not result from things done to you, or from things that happen around you. Rather, these dark days will be your own creation.
You are going to hurt Carrie worse than she’s ever been hurt by another human being. You, the man who this day vows to love and honor her, will conscientiously do the opposite. You are going to be the cause of her greatest and most sustained anguish.
You might pause here and assume what that means. Whatever comes to mind is probably wrong. I’m not talking about a particular deed or incident. I’m talking about a season of life during which you will say and do many things that no just person would forgive.
Marriage will eradicate your pride. It will expose your pretense and show you exactly who and what you are. It will show you, in no uncertain terms, that you are a wretched human being.
From that, you will have to make a choice. You will have to choose whether to cover your wretchedness with fresh pretense and posturing, or turn to God for redemption.
The good news is that redemption may be claimed. In the final analysis, reconciliation is what marriage is all about.
Growing up, you never had a sense of what family meant. Yours was just a collection of people bound by address. Even now, you walk as an alien among human beings, perplexed by their odd habits and emotional connections. Family means very little to you.
Carrie will change that. It will take time. It will take trial. It will take a violent metamorphosis within your soul. But you will learn, through her and the providence of God, that family means abundant grace.