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Marriage is a bonding of strangers made beautifully familiar through the miracle of love, the process of un-strangering one another through the power of loving and the gift of time. Marriage brings two people together not only in the present, but in the presence of their past, of the lives they have led-the choices they have made, the lessons that have shaped and reshaped the chambers of their hearts. Thus to be marrying again is different than simply to be marrying.

And so, as you contemplate reentering the very state that wounded you, you may be tempted to blind yourself to all the sorrows, difficulties, and disappointments of your past relationships, to look at this marriage as separate, distinct, and completely unrelated to all the relationships that preceded it.

This is a worthy temptation; it would be wonderful to think that this relationship–and your readiness for it-arrived at your doorstep out of the blue. But that isn’t the case, and in trying to view it this way you separate yourself from your own evolution as a person. For the other relationships you’ve had, you went through not instead of being in this relationship, but in order to be in it. This marriage is the culmination of years of apprenticeship, the winnowing and honing of your previous relationships to help shape you into the person who stands here today, ready to make the ultimate commitment of love.

Therefore, when you doubt the relevance of your past — and you will at times — or when you feel embarrassed about it — which, at times you may –remember that every relationship you have had was a step on the path to this relationship. The past was prologue. Every single conflict and disappointment, every beautiful, grueling, and painfully instructive moment in each of those relationships was delivered to your consciousness in preparation for this love.

Your experiences then are the laundry ticket for the silk garments you are retrieving from the cleaners now. What you did then was the antecedent, the exquisitely appropriate conditioning for what you are doing now. Everything was of value; everything taught you something, prepared you for marrying again, most happily now.

Acknowledging the past as preparation allows you to step most gracefully into the present, and having done so, you need to remind one another that this union is unique. This is not just ‘another’ relationship; it is the relationship, which is the consequence and fulfillment of the others; it is the last and the best. It has qualities contributed by both of you that make it the highest expression of what you two can offer through the medium of an intimate relationship. Therefore, be generous in reminding one another not only of what a gem of a relationship you have here, but also of the singular set of qualities you each possess.

The attributes, values, and convictions that can allow you to legitimately believe to the depths of your hearts that this is the love that will last until the end of your days.

Sometimes when we’ve finally arrived at a longed-for destination, there’s a temptation simply to be where we are, without discovering the possibilities inherent in our new state. This marriage may feel like a destination, a sweet safe place in which you can finally rest, but it is also an opportunity, the emotional and spiritual environment in which you can both develop to your highest brilliance. This is the person with whom you can do all the precious things you’ve wanted all your life to do. This is the time to receive and intend, to fulfill not only the joy of your heart but the possibilities of your life.

Therefore, remember to do the simple and beautiful things that will make this love a treasure. Fight well. Play. Communicate with one another. Focus on what you want, and entice your intentions into being. Plan for the things that are important to you; make sure you do them. This love is to be nurtured, to be lived out to the fullest in every aspect of its dreams — in the simple ceremonies of shared daily life, in realized hopes and long-deferred plans, in a quality of emotional exchange and spiritual communion toward which the whole of your life has been leaning.

And finally, be thankful for one another. Love is always a gift. A great compliment is being paid to you in being given another chance, another opportunity to love. You have been delivered to your ultimate partner, the person with whom you can share the fruits of all the lessons in your life. Not everyone has this opportunity; not everyone is granted this cornucopia of happiness.

This love was completely unexpected, the joyful consequence of nothing you could control. While everything you have experienced prepared you for it, there was nothing you could do to actually bring it into being; and so it is, indeed, one of life’s totally unexpected miracles.

In the presence of a miracle, one of the great human impulses is to disbelieve it or think that somehow we are unworthy of it. Yet it is in the very nature of miracles that we are unworthy of them, that we ourselves did nothing to bring them about. The way to be worthy of the miracle of this love is, simply, to receive it. Open your heart; open your hands, open your eyes, and allow the radiance of this love, this love for which you have waited so long, for which you have learned so much, to utterly and endlessly illumine you.

Love is the gift that has been given to you and it is also the gilt that you must now give back: to embody, to live out the love, the hope, the joy, the incomparable radiance, and the incredible mirroring that you have had the great good fortune to be given.