Not An Option

The second of The Mountain Farmgirl’s sons is getting married in 3 weeks, 3 days, 12 hours and 45 minutes!!!!!!! (But who’s counting?!). As she prepares for her part in the festivities, she’s also been thinking a lot about love, marriage and relationships in general. There is SO much joy … but nobody said it’s always going to be easy …

(And speaking about “not being easy”, gals … I just wrote this entire post and deleted it by mistake. AARGH!!!!!   Don’t you just HATE re-writing something after you just got it the way you wanted it to begin with? But this topic – and the event that precipitates it –  is such an important one that ….  Well … here I go again…!)

Weddings are such happy times … or at least they should be if we don’t get too caught up in the frenzy of details that threaten to overwhelm us as we prepare for the Big Day! We need to enjoy the process … it is so fleeting! And in a way, that’s just like marriage. Although it seems like the ‘honeymoon’ phase of a relationship will never end when we are standing at the altar, life does eventually take on a more ‘normal’, day-to-day aura. Our job is to hold on to the hope and excitement we felt when we said “I Do” because life inevitably becomes routine and even throws us a few curveballs along the way. But love and commitment will get us through!

This time last year I was all a-flutter over our oldest son Christopher’s upcoming marriage to the love of his life, Elizabeth.  They got married on June 18th in one of the most beautiful and thoughtful wedding events I have ever attended.  I wrote about it in “Mother of the Groom.”  Now, nearly a year has passed and I’m delighted to report that they are still as happy as clams! We saw them at Christmas, we Skype with them often, and they definitely still have ‘the glow’!  (Elizabeth is the daughter-in-law I wrote about a few months ago in “Too Close for Comfort”, when she narrowly escaped walking into the middle of a shoot-out in the lobby of the building where she works. Thanks for all your well-wishes for her, Farmgirls.  Your comments were heartfelt and greatly appreciated). Hard to believe, but I think they are even MORE in love a year later, despite the fact that our son lost his job shortly after they returned from their honeymoon (he got a much better one a few months later), and she is facing a huge dilemma as to whether to apply to med schools or enroll in a Ph.D. program instead. Balancing work and family is paramount in their minds, and many important decisions are ahead for them, but they keep everything in perspective and joy pervades their lives. For them, divorce will never be an option.

Noah, our second son, is getting married on May 25th and we are all extremely excited as the day approaches.  (He’s the one getting his Masters in Computer Science and Mathematics from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore). His fiancé, Dana (who coincidentally has the same name as my husband!)  graduated from Patrick Henry College in Virginia. We adore her as much as if she were our very own daughter.  She’s already moved to the apartment where they’ll both be living after they’re married. Dana has a wonderful job in Washington, DC. working with the International Justice Mission.  We ‘talk’ frequently via email as we plan for the fast-approaching wedding!

As Mother of the Groom, my responsibilities are not quite as intense as the Bride’s family’s … but I am still getting into the swing of things with great gusto!  Noah and Dana will be getting married in New York State, not far from where we all used to live. The wedding itself will be held outside if the weather is nice, with the Shawangunk and Catskill Mountains as a backdrop, and the Wallkill River in the front.  Such a beautiful spot!!  The reception will follow in a beautiful tent on the site.  The night before the wedding, however, our family will host a big BBQ at our old church in Circleville, as a mixer for the two families, many of whom have never met.  The wedding itself will be fairly small, so we’ve invited many long-lost family members and friends we haven’t seen since moving to New Hampshire to the BBQ the night before. It is going to be such fun!  My last few weeks have been filled with details and organization for this event … my strong suit!  I made up a master wedding book for my BBQ so that no stone is left unturned! So far  I’ve made invitations, nametags, a wedding certificate, as well as some table decorations.  As time gets closer, I will also make all the food.

As I’ve been busy doing these things, all this brings back so many wonderful memories of my own Quaker wedding when Dana and I married ourselves in the Meetinghouse at Cornwall, NY in 1977. Although it has been 35 years, it is still so vivid in my mind. After our ceremony, we returned to the family farmhouse where I had prepared a feast, and some dear sweet friends got everything arranged for me on the buffet table.  In some ways it seems like only yesterday … but we’ve had a lifetime of adventures in the interim, and I can’t think of a more wonderful or colorful life!  But as I say in my Farmgirl Bio on the sidebar, although I married my childhood sweetheart of 42 years, our bed of roses has had a few thorns, and some of this Mountain Farmgirl’s married life has actually been a bit of an uphill climb. And yet we’re still married … quite something in this day and age of failed marriages and divorce.

Statistics tell us that nearly 1 in 2 marriages won’t make it, a grim number indeed!  Now I’ve been to a lot of weddings in my day, but never have I heard a young couple vow “Till Pain Do Us Part”. And yet numbers don’t lie, and those words are what often can be implied in such a divorce rate.  Why do some marriages stand the test of time, while others crumble and go their separate ways?  Trust has a lot to do with it, and a deep, abiding Commitment which goes beyond mere words. As I prepare for the upcoming wedding barbecue for Noah and Dana, whose theme is  “In Celebration of God’s Bounty”, these are some of the thoughts I have been thinking and praying about, for them both.

Noah and Dana have done so many things 'right'.  They've known each other since they were 13 and been very good friends from the start; they've pledged purity until marriage; they each have a career and a good education; they pray together, attend church and have finished pre-marital counselling. For them, this is a lifelong committment as well; separation is not an option.

Do you have any secrets for a good marriage, or words of wisdom to help Noah and Dana as they start on the road of life together?   I would so love it if you could share a few thoughts and blessings with with them!

Until next time, Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings from Cathi,
The Mountain Farmgirl



By: Theresa
On: 04/30/2012 10:07:05

Congratulations. I have two sons who are not far off, and I pray daily for their future bride. I can't wait to meet her and call her daughter. Thanks for sharing and have wonderful day!

Dear Theresa, Thank you very much for your sweet wishes. It was always fun trying to imagine who those 'special ladies' were, and wondering what they were doing as my boys were growing up!  We find out more quickly than we imagine ... those childhoods go so fast, but the rewards are greater than we imagine, also. Have a great day.  --cathi

By: Betty Benesi
On: 04/30/2012 14:07:56

I was re-watching the movie "The Mexican" with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts a couple of nights ago. The question came up "in a relationship, if you really love each other when is "enough is enough"? The answer "if you really love each other, NEVER. I will be celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary in June and I can tell you, it has been extremely difficult at times. Some how we made either by God's good grace or sheer stubborness, I'm not sure which.

Dear Betty, I hear ya', girl! I've been there, too ... life will always have hard spots, and the easiest thing is to quit.  Actually, my husband and I did very early on in our marriage.  After the death of our 1st son, (we were very young, only 21 & 23) we got divorced very briefly. It was a stupid decision, and we were just as unhappy. But we realized our mistake and remarried within the year. Life was never without its bumps, and when times get tough, it helps to remember that Love is a Decision. Thank you so much for writing; I think I will look for that movie!   --- Cathi

By: meredith
On: 04/30/2012 14:11:17

Celebrate your aniversaries! My husband threw a big party (tent and great food and music on a beautiful hill on our farm)for our 20th anniversary, and we are preparing another for the end of May for our 25th this year- it gives you a chance to remember your wedding and how you arrived at where you are now! Congratulations and many happy anniversaries to come!

Dear Meredith,   That's awesome ... congratulations to you, too! My husband and I used to make things together to commemorate our anniversaries ... a stained glass window, a weathervane, a chair, a brick walk to the garden, etc.  ... things we still have and use, but have great meaning for us.  Have a wonderful celebration at the end of May.  I am sure you are an inspiration to many others.


By: Amanda
On: 04/30/2012 16:09:03

I've learned that it's not always 50/50 in a marriage. Sometimes you have to give a little more, sometimes you need to take a little more. But, it should always balance out, 30/70, 75/25, even 90/10. Never 0/100. And, don't keep track! I wish them all the best!

Dear Amanda, Very good advice. One of my Mentors, "Uncle Eddie", has always said that same thing about business partnerships.  EACH person has to give more than 50% for it to work.  Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts. --cathi

By: Bobbi
On: 04/30/2012 16:15:50

My husband and I will be celebrating 31 years of marriage on Wednesday (5/2/12). We have had our own share of ups and downs. It is applying Bible principles that have kept us going thru the rough patches. Many feel that is old fashioned. God has not changed. People do. Anyone can get divorced. Staying married takes work. I wish your family the very best!

Dear Bobbi, Congratulations ... and Happy Anniversary tomorrow. May God continue to bless you in your life, and give you strength through difficulties. Thanks so much for writing!  --Cathi

By: Sharon Elaine
On: 04/30/2012 16:38:00

We've been together since we were thirteen and will celebrate our 48th anniversary in June. God, love and committment.

Sharon Elaine, Thanks for that good advice: God, Love and Committment are certainly the staples of a good marriage, and at 48 years of marriage, you are living proof!  I wish you many, many more. I appreciate you writing. -- cathi

By: Debbie
On: 05/01/2012 09:50:34

Dear Cathi,
Congratulations on getting number three to the alter ( almost ) You must be so pleased and proud of all of your children. Well, we just celebrated our 21st anniversary in September!
Marriage is always a give and take... but if you can keep a sense of humor, be kind to one another and remain grateful you've got a good chance of a long and happy union...We believe God placed us together to do " good " by each-other and our children so that's what we do each and every day!
Many blessings to all of you! Hope this spring time isn't running you TOO ragged my dear!
much love!
your sister on the shore!

My Sweet Friend Deb, Thank you for always being there and being so faithful in the 'comment department'!   I really appreciate it and love to hear from you! I've been meaning to write you too, but as you can guess, my focus has been diverted to all things 'wedding' at the moment!!!  It has been pure joy for me, I'm NOT running ragged, but enjoying every moment despite a lengthy To Do list! Will have much more free time in a few weeks.  Meanwhile, thanks for your insight on what makes a good marriage, and Congratulations on 21 years!! Obviously, it is good advice ... and a sense of humor IS vital!!! xoxo cathi

By: Kristy
On: 05/01/2012 10:24:32

Mike and I used to continually say we'd do it again. Every anniversary we'd say the first year was great, lets have another, the first 5 years were fantastic, lets stay for the next five, etc. etc. up until the thirty-first. Trouble is that Mike passed away before the thirty second.
The thing is that I know we would be promising the next forty-four years to each other this summer.

My Dear Kristy, Reading your sweet letter gave me goosebumps, and then made me teary ... I wasn't expecting that. What a blessed life you had together, and I am so sorry such a lovely relationship was cut short.  I love how you made it 'fun' on each anniversary to re-commit to another!  I will enjoy sharing that with my Noah and Dana.  God Bless you, and Thank you so much for writing.

By: Patricia Yellename
On: 05/01/2012 23:22:30

Today, my husband Jack and I will be celebrating our 57th Anniversary! As with most marriages, there have been ups and downs, but working together there have been more ups then downs! I can still hear the words of the Priest "for better or worse, etc". Unfortunately today many couples forget those words and bail at the first bump in the road. Such a shame. Stay aboard for the ride, life will be more then worth it!! Wishing your son and his future wife much joy and happiness.

Dear Patricia,  Congratulations to you and your husband for honoring those vows 57 years ago.  That is SOOO awesome!  I so appreciate your good wishes for my son Noah and his future bride Dana.  I hope they will meet with the success that you and your husband have. Thanks for writing. -- cathi

By: Sue
On: 05/06/2012 11:23:59
On Monday the 7th of May, my husband and I will celebrate our 22nd year together. I guess the best piece of advice is know when to laugh and when not to. Humor can get you through lots of the tough stuff.

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir