The following comes to us from Will Ryan:

My wife and I met when we were both going to seminary at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth. After we became engaged, we decided to get married in Texas because it would be easiest.

Texas has a law/rule when it comes to marriage licenses: if you go through the marriage preparation tool Prepare and Enrich, you get a discount on your license. Not only was this a great deal (and we are suckers for those), my wife was also trained in the program. She believed in it as a tool to start the hard conversations which needed to happen before marriage.

The problem came when we went through the assessment tool with the pastor to marry us. The results which came back were stunning — we were told we had no “growth areas” areas.

A “growth area” is something which, if not addressed, could lead to a problem or sticky spot later on down the line. Growth areas are where you disagree most. For some it might be money, for others how many kids to have or parenting styles, and for some it’s what you expect out of your partner.

My wife and I didn’t have a single growth area. Sure, there were some deviations here and there, but they all pretty much fell closely together. The terminology of Prepare and Enrich called us “vitalized” — descriptive of couples who “tend to have the highest levels of relationship satisfaction and high Positive Couple Agreement (PCA) across most of the nine core scales.”

That’s fancy language. We tended to just call ourselves the best couple ever. The test told us so. We weren’t overly serious about that label, but we weren’t not serious either. It was a handy way to compare ourselves to the other couples we knew. We certainly were better than them!

Cut to a couple months ago. It’s three o’clock in the morning. Our two-month-old daughter is screaming. She’s been screaming for an hour. This is the fourth night in a row she’s done this. Everything we’ve tried hasn’t worked — and I’m at my wits’ end. Between my wife and I, I’m the one most affected by the crying. It tears me to bits, and I can’t cope. And who do I take it out on but my wife? I yell. I berate. I curse. I sin.

The best couple? It didn’t hold water. It was laughable by that point. Certainly, it’s not anything to hold on to at a moment like that.

Instead, I hold onto what happened after the test, after the hard conversations, after the lording of our “best couple” status over everyone — the wedding.

There we made our vows. We made our promises to join ourselves with each other, always with God’s help. Though the language was more ephemeral and religious, we promised through thick and thin, good and bad, high and low that we were bound to each other. Bound as Christ bound himself to each of us before the “foundations of the earth” (Eph. 1:4).

In our wedding we didn’t symbolize this by planting a unity tree, or mixing sand together, or even doing a “unity shot.” (Someone actually tried to convince a pastor friend of mine to let them do that at a wedding she was presiding over!) No, after we made our promises, after we exchanged rings, after we declared our love, we went to Christ’s Table. It was there I heard once again about the body broken and blood shed for my sins, even ones not yet committed.

The reality comes to bear — one half of the best couple? No. Forgiven sinner? Yes.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.