by Fran Edstrom
Passages to read
We spent part of the weekend with Morgan and Dan choosing
the different readings for the wedding ceremony. As we discussed
Bible passages, I reflected on the relative ease with which we
understood the messages compared to the difficulty of living
according to them.
They chose a passage from the Book of Ruth, which paraphrased,
says, "where you go, I'll go, where you live, I'll live,
your people will be my people and your God will be my God."
It is a beautiful passage and, although spoken between in-laws,
expresses the essence of what marriage is -- an indissoluble
union. Put into the context of the year 2002, and looking forward
fifty or more years, keeping such a promise will require a mature
love, an understanding of each other's needs, and a willingness
to either change or not change one's plans for one's life.
When John decided to leave graduate school before he earned his
doctoral degree in English, and to abandon plans to be an English
professor, I had to rethink my entire life.
My father was a college professor, my mother stayed at home and
took care of six kids until they were all in school, and then
she began teaching as well.
I thought that my life with John would be like my parents' life.
They seemed happy with each other, their family, and their chosen
careers. I wanted to offer my children the same thing.
But rather than moving to a college campus, we came back to Winona
and started the Winona Shopper. Each time I became pregnant,
I tried to find someone to take my place, so I could stay at
home with the kids. It was soon evident, however, that there
was no one who was willing to work with the same dedication John
and I had to to keep our shaky business afloat.
We put a playpen in our office on the second floor on Third Street
above what was then Tradehome Shoes. When Cassidy outgrew the
playpen, we moved our offices to the basement of our house on
Dacota Street, where I could watch the kids and the business
at the same time.
As the business grew, it was impossible to run it out of the
house. We called upon our in-laws and friends to watch Cassidy,
and soon Morgan as well.
I was not a "stay-at-home" Mom.
We had very little money, and what money there was came in so
sporadically, that I couldn't help but think (sometimes rather
bitterly) how much better off we would have been with a regular
paycheck. Once, during our first year, we had a huge fight over
whether John wasted more money on magazines or I on pantyhose.
I also missed my family and my home in Massachusetts. Back then,
there was no doubt in my mind that if something would "happen"
to John, I would move back to New England, to "my"
Not exactly in the spirit of the passage from Ruth.
In the gospels, Mark 10: 6-9 seems a logical choice for wedding
scripture. It ends with "what therefore God hath joined
together, let not man put asunder" (the old word, but a
Over the thirty-two years we've been married, there were times
when one or the other of us would have gladly walked out, but
a belief that marriage is forever, a feeling that a divorce would
not be looked upon kindly by our families, a desire to have an
intact family for the kids, and finally a certain maturity, a
willingness to overlook our individual desires, kept us from
It takes both parties to reach this point. It is not something
one person can accomplish out of sheer willpower.
And I didn't say our "love" kept us together. Over
those thirty-two years, love was transformed from raw material
into an intricately woven tapestry. The challenges, the celebrations,
the tragedies, and the small fights over dollars are the things
that change and mature young love into a committed union that
endures for better or worse.
This is a difficult thing to explain to kids in their twenties,
whose experience cannot yet prepare them for it.
No one, I think, goes into marriage thinking that it's temporary.
But marriage needs constant care. It's almost as hard to feed
and nurture as a rosemary plant in Minnesota. We can only hope
that our Dan and Morgan are as fortunate as we are, and as our
parents were, in having somehow made a good choice of a mate,
and will come safely through the pitfalls and hurdles that continue
for the duration of a life together.