Very early in our marriage my wife and I were introduced to a concept by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo for which I will be eternally grateful (and one that I will unpack here as we have continued to interpret it)… children are a welcome addition to the family.
That statement pre-supposes another reality that is often left undiscussed or worse. Sometimes modern couples are not yet seen as a family until they have children. But let’s be honest. When you are joined together in holy matrimony (as we typically say in the ceremony), you have begun a union that is unlike any other partnership known to man… or should be. And while I know many other friends that have gone about it in perhaps a different order than we chose, I think they would still admit to the point I am trying to make here which is this… a new family begins when two people make a commitment to be together indefinitely.
Definitions matter. Because they reveal values. Seeing family through this lens has allowed my wife and I to keep each other first… even (especially) ahead of our children. The reason this has become of utmost importance to me is that many couples who identify family as the arrival of children, also forget how to be a family once children graduate from everyday family life as young adults. So even though we have only had one of our three leave the nest so far, we have begun to wrestle with the reality that in less than four short years, our last kid will be gone.
And though there has been, and will continue to be, a certain amount of sorrow and adjustment to that reality, the truest core of our family will stay both geographically and tangibly in tact as the vow says, “as long as we both shall live”. Because, as I have been reminded once again this week as we are celebrating our 20 years of marriage, the two of us were the first family.