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Marriage Meltdown

Fifteen years ago yesterday, he and I lit the unity candle before our family and friends.  We turned toward one another, away from all others, forever.  Three lights flamed into one, united in Christ.   

For years I had that candle displayed on a golden candlestick in our home.  Occasionally, we lit it on our anniversary, a mini renewal of vows.  Then one year it was next to the fireplace.  Apparently each time we enjoyed the fire, the candle warped a bit more.  When I finally noticed it, the entire back of the candle had melted, dripping down the candlestick, puddling on the floor.  From the front, the outer shell of the candle still held firm, it looked beautiful.  Turned around, the back was missing entirely.  I wondered how it had even stayed standing with its structure so damaged.  

Like that candle, we have melted and warped a bit throughout the past 15 years of marriage.  Three job changes, three cross-country moves and three children puts a little excess heat on a couple at times.  But while we may drip away and puddle sometimes, for a day or even months, we have always been able to turn back toward each other, relight the flame and stay standing.  Precisely because we are three in one and our base is not built by ourselves, but rests firmly on the grace of God.

The other day I heard a radio personality say he believes it is the human condition to have ups and downs in our emotions and our lives.  He thinks it is misguided, even dangerous, for people to expect to feel the same everyday.  I thought of the life of a marriage.  We expect to feel the same everyday, every year, as we did on our honeymoon and when we don't we think things must be over, must end.  But what if we chose to accept that it is normal to have ups and downs in marriage?  Could we make it through the melting moments and remember that when things are allowed to cool, they become firm again?

Back then, I had no idea that the unity candle is most often not allowed in Catholic wedding ceremonies.  How would I have known being a Presbyterian, marrying a Catholic, in my home church?  Though I later converted to Catholicism myself, I am grateful that we have our beautiful, ugly unity candle to represent what we used to be, what we are and what we can always aim to be.  Three.


  1. What a beautiful testimony...and filled with such lovely symbolism. Sometimes it is those cracks, warps, and indeed melting that allow us to become even closer. Just lovely. Congratulations....

  2. What a wonderful post! Happy Anniversary! :) Ours is this month too. We had a unity candle, I didn't realize they are often not used. What a perfect unity candle you have now to represent marriage!

  3. Love this! Happy Anniversary!

  4. Oh, I wished you lived close by! My husband and I are involved in a mentorship ministry for young married couples (less than ten years). The whole purpose of this ministry is so that (as you so eloquently put it!) meltdown is normal, warping is normal, feeling the heat is normal...wish more couples with experience and clear thinking, who are living life in the trenches could be part of this ministry. Blessings and Congratulations!

  5. What an insightful analogy. It is so true that marriages that last go through many difficult times. However, a three fold cord is not easily broken. When a marriage includes God, it is made to last. Thank you for this encouraging post :)

  6. What we always aim to be…three. So good. Marriages do grow and change in all kinds of way through the years. Thankful for Jesus in the middle of it all.

  7. Happy Anniversary!! We did the candle ceremony at our wedding and I thought it was beautiful. I appreciate your blog, you're right marriages have ups and downs & I shouldn't expect us both to feel exactly the same every day. Thanks so much for your words!

  8. Happy Anniversary, Misty. A beautiful post!

    You are so right about there being three in a marriage. There were only two of us present at our first marriage: my husband and me. At our second, when I became a Catholic, we asked God to join us. Yes, there are ups and downs in marriage but God is always there to give us the strength to keep going and to grow in love. Thank you for your great reflection!

  9. What a beautiful, inspiring post:)

  10. I really enjoyed reading your post. Love the symbolism of the candle, and your understanding of what a special memory of your wedding day it is. God bless!

    Thank you for linking up at NOBH. =)

  11. You bring tears to my eyes and a tightness in my throat with your words of life-learned wisdom and the true meaning of love. Hope your anniversary was as special as you two are!

  12. Hi Misty, your words ring so true about marriage. When I was growing up my mom never spoke to us girls about marriage... how hard it could be and how love is not an emotion... it is a choice. It would have been helpful if I'd learned some of those lessons instead of learning them on my own :)

    Happy Anniversary!! I'm hopping over from NOBH!

  13. Happy Anniversary! This post is wonderful and I enjoyed reading your thoughts and memories! Yes, marriage definitely has its ups and downs, but with three in our marriages, it can get us through anything and everything! Thanks for linking up to NOBH! :)


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