Marriage is like turning a marathon into a 3-legged race.

I’m running along at my own pace, eyes fixed on the goal, when I sense someone running beside me. I look over and see you running toward the same goal at about the same pace. We fall in step and decide that running this race is better as a team, so we stop and bind ourselves to one another hand and foot.

At first we’re just happy for the companionship, and even though we’re bumbling along trying to find a new stride, the challenges are fun. But then the binds grow tight and chafe, cutting deep into the flesh. Indeed, the binds have fused our flesh together so it’s impossible to see where one begins and the other ends. There’s no way we could cut the binds and part ways without it being deeply painful.

We both stumble and fall repeatedly, wounding one another in the process. But we always apologize and help one another back up, and we keep on running. Our wounds heal, and we keep on running. We hit a new stride. Where the binds have cut into the flesh, we’re being made whole–and holy.

And there is joy.

We learn to take better care to help each other when we see that our running mate is weary. We’re more careful to avoid making each other stumble. Sometimes we have to slow way down and walk at a snail’s pace. Sometimes we have to sprint for a few yards. But we’re always moving on, pressing toward the mark for the prize.

I look around and see throngs of people at the sidelines. Some of the faces I recognize. Our grandparents. Dear friends. Heroes from long ago. They’ve all finished their race and they’re cheering us on.

I look up and see our Prize, more beautiful and glorious the longer I look.

I look over and your eyes are down. I nudge you and lift your eyes to the finish line once again. We’re in this together. You’ve done the same for me.

As we run, we try to encourage those who are running alongside us. We reorient those who have lost sight of the goal. We refuse to hide our scars, and others are drawn to us for that, because they’ve fallen down, too. We compare scars and stories as we run, then we look around to realize that we’ve come much farther than we’d imagined because of the company of other runners. We urge one another on.

I don’t know how much longer we have to run. But one thing I know: binding myself to you is a choice I’ve never regretted. I’m thankful for the course we’ve run, and I look forward to what lies ahead, until the day we reach that finish line.

Until then, let’s just keep running. Together.