a word to a young couple

Given as the message at the wedding of my nephew and his fiance, June 19, 2009. Part of it was crowdsourced through an invitation on Thursday.


Here we are.

All those people watching, they are ready to get to the “for better, for worse” and the “Ladies and gentleman, Mr and Mrs.”

I understand. I am too.

But this is a big deal. So I want to talk to you two a bit more, and then to them and then we’ll get to the promises and the party.

When we were talking a couple weeks ago,  I said that I didn’t understand the faith that it takes to be a farmer. Every year, a farmer takes their whole life and buries it in the ground. And if it is a good year, then life is good. And if it’s a bad year, with storms at just the wrong time, then life is stretching.

And then I started thinking about what I could say to you, what would help you think about today differently.

And I realized that I do understand the faith that it takes to be a farmer.

Here’s a bag of dirt. [I handed Adam a plastic bag of dirt]  It comes from land that you know well, Adam. Your mom knows it better. Your grampa knows it even better. It’s part of the second Kies farm.

[Note: The Kies family has owned a farm in Hillsdale county Michigan for 175 years. They have owned a second farm, the one where Nancy and her twin Jodie, Adam’s mother grew up, for more than 50 years. That farm is being farmed by Nancy’s dad, brother, and nephew.]

The reason that this farm is being plowed by the third generation of Kies’, the reason the original land is being plowed by more generations of Kies’ that I can count, is the same reason that your marriage can grow.

Generations of Kies’ have taken the dirt, this thing called a field, and they have cared for it.

  • In the middle of the summer, when the last thing you want to do is to walk the rows of soybeans pulling up corn from last year you do it. because if you don’t, it will mess up the yield.
  • In the winter, when the last thing you want to be doing is riding on a tractor pulling a machine that is throwing manure around, you do it. because you know that it will help the field work better.
  • In the fall, you start before sunrise and you work until it’s dark because after you put so much into this field, into this crop, you aren’t gonna let winter take it.

Just owning a field doesn’t make you a farmer. Farming does.

Kids, you are like young farmers being handed your own field. It’s called “Adam and Becci Dobbs.” It is yours. It’s scary. You really don’t know what difference being married is going to make.

And now you get to decide how well this field is going to produce.

You could just throw some seeds in and come back in a few months and see what happened.

Some people do that with their marriages.

They wonder what happened.

But you don’t want that.

  • Instead, you can spend time together preparing the soil, talking, walking, breaking through the crust that can form in the busy-ness of life.
  • You can pull out the weeds together, the arguments, the ideas other people have about what you ought to be doing, the distractions that pop up.
  • You can take turns going out and spreading manure. I know that everyone is coming up with their own images of that…but those of us who are married know that there are things that you have to do that are miserable, but help the relationship grow. Spending the night up with a sick child. Cleaning up more than your side of the room. Incredibly unromantic things.
  • In the crisis times, you can be working side by side, bailing out the basement, holding each other when someone dies or someone is attacking your reputation or your job.

People will tell you how to take care of your field. People do that to farmers all the time.

Last night, when we were rehearsing, I said that i was asking the internet for what to say. Some people laughed. I was serious.

I asked a lot of my online friends what to say.

And they answered.

  • have fun together. Play. laugh.
  • tell them not to be so serious in serious times, not to be so happy in happy times. tell them to Have Fun Together.
  • It’s easy to call it quits. It’s harder to stick it out. So put on your armor to survive the MANY challenges a marriage faces.
  • Tell them to always be kind to each other.
  • Complete Honesty. Sense of humor. Lots of intimacy
  • That the deepest measure of love is choice!
  • Chose to love every day. You don’t get to be angry because they are angry and you don’t get to mad because they are mad. You get to love.
  • After 40 years of marriage (May 30), there are several key words. I’m sorry! (and mean it) I forgive you (and mean it)

[Note: I had many more responses, but I was already talking too long. So I edited.]

Lots of people have lots of suggestions that are very good. Lots of people will be very happy to tell you how to live.

But here’s the deal.

You, Adam, are the only one, starting in a few minutes, whose job is Becky. You, Becky, are the only one, starting in a few minutes, whose job is Adam.

When you make these promises to each other, God is handing you the responsibility to care about and to care for each other. And to break all the rest of those responsibilities that people think they have.

We can support them taking care of each other, but we, parents, family, friends, have to let go of being the ones who run our kids lives.

One year from tonight, I will look at a young couple as say those same words, as a parent of half of that couple. And I will understand how hard that is. But it is still true.adam and becci

If you have any questions about this marriage, questions about how right they are for each other, dismiss those questions right now. If you are looking forward to probing, to hearing about what Adam did or what Rebecca said, let your dream of divisiveness vanish. For when they leave their families, they are turning to each other. And as I have told them, if you hear about the problem but not the reconciliation, you will be cheering against them, and they don’t need that at all.

What they need is for each of us to encourage, to pray, to celebrate, to rejoice and weep with them.

What they need—is to be married.


10 responses to “a word to a young couple

  1. Great message as always.

  2. Very Good Blog. Compliments

  3. Powerful words and imagery Jon. I’d never thought of marriage like farming before. Now, I probably won’t ever shake that.

    Nicely done!

  4. Excellent, as always… and it made me laugh out loud here at work…because last week when I was washing Dad’s car and cleaning the wheels, it struck me that it takes alot of faith to drive a car…and of course, reading your words…I injected that into my wedding and it made me laugh…do you get the funny??

  5. Hi

    Thanks for great metaphor. Not just for newly weds. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  7. How lucky and how lovely.

    As usual the metaphor is meaningful.

    But what sticks with me is being each other’s job.

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