FARGO On the morning of Nov. 23, 1991, I drove from my little efficiency to a hair salon to have my wedding veil bobby-pinned onto my head and my long curls doused with Aqua Net. Driving home later in otherwise casual attire, I noticed the gaping looks as I passed other vehicles, my headgear an obvious curiosity.

That afternoon, we married before friends and family at Nativity Church, and soon thereafter, moved to the West Coast before circling back to Fargo some years later. We eventually landed just blocks from that efficiency.

Now, just south of our home, we frequently pass a house where I babysat one summer of college. And a few streets to the north, we recall the presence of the old Hardee’s where we stopped our wedding night, still in tux and dress and quite hungry, for a ham and cheese. We continue to make late-night runs to that spot, now a CVS Pharmacy.

These physical markers remind us that though some things change, others remain constant. What’s changed most of all has been our perspective on life.

Back then, we knew half of all marriages ended in divorce. What would spare us? We were a bit of a mess. Childhood scars had yet to be healed, and selfishness easily crept in.

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Our children cured us of some of that. With five little ones underfoot, we had to become other-focused. Eventually, we realized the one needing us most was the one to whom we’d said, “I do.” We began working together more, and less against one another. Not perfectly, but better.

If only we’d heard of the Marriage Reality Movement description of marriage earlier: “The free choice of a man and woman to make themselves irreplaceable to each other,” an act which prepares them to receive a child from their union as gift. “Marriage starts the circle of irreplaceability that we call the family.”

“Irreplaceability.” What a beautiful word, and such a sublime explanation of marriage; one we understand more each passing year.

Though it’s taken the better part of 30 years to grasp it, I can say that now, I am more endeared to my beloved than ever. We have been through a lot together. Miscarriage, a few open-heart surgeries, and even COVID.

Through three decades of marriage, there has been one steadfast constant: God. We didn’t always see this clearly, but we now find it inescapably true, and celebrate this gift each night as we clasp hands and thank the good Lord for his blessings.

I’m glad now that our anniversary runs near, and sometimes on, Thanksgiving. I can’t imagine anything for which I am more thankful than my husband, dearer to me today than on Nov. 23, 1991, when he lifted my veil and promised to be by my side through every adversity and joy.

Thank you, Lord, for my husband; our children, who’ve blessed us abundantly; and our marriage. All these good things come from you, who are worthy to be praised always and forever.

Salonen, a wife and mother of five, works as a freelance writer and speaker in Fargo. Email her at roxanebsalonen@gmail.com, and find more of her work at Peace Garden Passage, http://roxanesalonen.com/