Husband & Wife Articles


Hints from Hallmark

Wedding cards tucked away offer wisdom for marriage today

By Christina Capecchi

Preparing for Fourth of July guests sent me on a zealous purge through closets and junk drawers, from the garage to the laundry room.

Most daunting of all was our unfinished basement, which has become an orchid graveyard, the place we store the seemingly dead things we haven’t quite given up on. It is our hidden-away catch-all, where the out-of-season and out-of-style languish in oversize bins, where trophies are frozen mid-swing, and yearbooks hold the names and faces that once wallpapered our minds.

I reclaimed the ping-pong-table-turned-present-wrapping station, took an unsentimental flip through college notebooks and donated two boxes of clothes to the Lutheran church down the road.

When I landed on a dainty gold basket stuffed with wedding cards, suddenly the clock ticking away till the in-laws arrived fell silent. In one basket were all the messages our closest friends and relatives chose to extend six years ago, on the first day of our marriage. Before me were hundreds of years of combined marital experience folded up in dozens of cards.

Hints from Hallmark

Tucked inside the first card was a crisp $50 check from a widowed neighbor. A silver Cinderella carriage flashed on the second one, given by a now-divorced, 30-something couple. The third card, picturing a wedding cake and champagne glasses, came from an engaged couple who have since married, battled infertility and signed on to adopt Chinese twins.

So many unvarnished stories pulse beneath the glitter and rhyming prose, wishes of “prosperity and shared dreams,” “a lifetime of love,” and “happily ever after.” I read the cards differently today. As a bride, I read them with confidence. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I thought, “I got this.”

As a wife and mother of two, I read them with humility. I realize that, amid the roses and ribbons, I missed the many hints that marriage will be the hardest endeavor I’ve ever embarked on, the one that rewards as it refines, that sustains and sanctifies.

In the aisles of Target and Walgreens, scanning images of hearts, our wedding guests chose cards wisely.

“Life is not perfect. You will make mistakes, but each time you meet life’s challenges together, you will grow wiser, stronger and surer of your love.”

“Beauty is making someone else’s dreams come true. Beauty is loving beyond the faults and fears. Beauty is helping out when you’re tired.”

“Where love is, hope is heard. Forgiveness is found. Work is worthwhile.”

They were trying to tell me about the road ahead. I just wasn’t listening.

Now I know better.

The religious card Sister Irma selected probably sounded cliché on the day of our wedding and now resonates deeply, with the words of St. Paul: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

The words that came from an old friend must’ve felt simplistic six years ago: “Be kind. Be patient. Be open. Be generous.” Now they feel challenging.

If I can be kind and patient today, in the library parking lot on this rainy Monday when the potty-training 2-year-old doesn’t want me to collapse her umbrella and buckle her car seat, if I can be kind and patient tonight in the 10-square-feet space of sink and dishwasher, at the cluttered counter of diaper-bag debris spilling onto bills and junk mail, if I can bite my tongue when I’m irked and wait for better timing on unresolved issues, then I’ll reap the real graces of our marriage sacrament.

Christina Capecchi lives in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., with her husband, Ted, and their two girls, Maria and Jane.