Today Lindsey and I have been married 15 years. It’s amazing to me how fast time goes. Yet, life has a way of slowing down. Scientists have studied the phenomenon of “time slowing.” Recall if you have ever been in an accident or emergency and time seemed to stand still. Help took so long to come, or the car seemed to crunch in slow motion. When our interest is piqued and senses heightened time and memory intermix. For example, if you recall going to Disneyland, you likely remember the thrill of a ride, rather than the long lines. You can likely (if you had a Mom like mine) recall the exact smell of fresh bread and where you would first smell it upon entering the house, but likely forget every time you brushed your teeth in that very same house.
On January 19, I could show you the exact spot where senses, memory and time intermixed. It is the spot where I first met Lindsey. I noticed her green eyes, had little brown flecks in them and she was wearing a blue sweater and an aura of goodness bouncing off of her. This intermixing is the punctuation in the prose of life. Similarly, the other night after reading scriptures as a family we had a discussion about love. We noted that love is something that transcends space and time. It even transcends functionality and reciprocity (we love people who are dead for example). My God or my Grandma does not need to be directly in front of me to love them (space); and time has an amazing way of deepening love and devotion.
With this in mind, life has imposed a few things that have been difficult to grasp. In marriages with special needs children, space, time, senses and memory, play some of the tricks of mortality on us. Social scientists predict that parents with special-needs children have anywhere from 2-10% increased chance of divorce (interestingly a decreasing factor in that statistic is the number of children the couple has. Larger families equal lower divorce percentages, so good thing we have lots of kids).i
So how has raising a special-needs child influenced our marriage? F. Burton Howard, once said:
“If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.” ii
If I have learned anything in the stress and craziness, that marriage is more than love. I love things and people I’m not married to. It is ordained from God. But that marriage can never be treated as ordinary. It is the essence of time slowing, moments enhanced with laughter, heightened by tears, elevated by touch, strengthened by faith. Hence, I really believe that marriage is meant for eternity—it is the stuff of eternity, because it even has a knack of slowing time here on earth. Love is enhanced by marriage not a function of it. Raising Elise has brough those moments which has forged a bond between us that is impenetrable. Because of Elise, I have seen Linds stretched, strained, stressed, and spread. In all these years, she has never complained. Sure there has been sadness, anxiety, worry, mixed with, “what do I do? How do I do this?” but in her resilience it has never been “why do I have to do this?” Elise has made our marriage stronger.
Lynn G. Robbins explained:
“Too many believe that love is a condition, a feeling that involves 100 percent of the heart, something that happens to you. They disassociate love from the mind and, therefore, from agency. In commanding us to love, the Lord refers to something much deeper than romance—a love that is the most profound form of loyalty. He is teaching us that love is something more than feelings of the heart; it is also a covenant we keep with soul and mind.” iii
Raising Elise has created a bond, a love, that is kept with soul and mind, not just romance. Love endures all things because it has the ability to transcend all things. It can reach places that are otherwise unreachable. That is why solace to the brokenhearted, empathy to those suffering, a hug to the depressed, or all of the above to devoted caregivers, intermixes heaven and earth. It unites and fuses the giver and receiver. Over the few years of our marriage, we’ve cried together, held on to each other, and, at times, held on for dear life; but we’ve always been holding and hoping.
Love. It is what endures and what grows, it is what you go through togetheriv and we have the blessed opportunity to go through a lot. But marriage, and I especially feel our marriage, is our
“. . . join[ing] unique talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts and create something new and profoundly different from what they could ever do individually."v