We had absolutely no idea what we were doing. Our ceremony was so short we actually panicked at the end – we thought surely they forgot some stuff. But how could you make a couple of naïve and starry-eyed babies on the altar understand that marriage is going to take every bit of your strength and humility and forgiveness and grace… that sometimes God and grit are the only things that’ll hold it together… and that it’ll be the hardest and best thing you’ll ever choose?
15 years and so much life later, we still have pretty much no idea what we’re doing, but we’ll keep fighting for every beautiful part of this love. Stay grateful for the hard stuff. And even more grateful for the good.
And commit to the long-haul mindset, because a lot of stuff's gone down in 15 years, and we know it's only the tip of the iceberg.
15 marriage adventures in 15 years:
- Young working newlyweds
- Infant loss
- Bed rest
- 2 under 2
- Completely self-employed
- 2 moves
- Financial stress
- New baby
- Career changes
It would take me a whole 15 years to tell you the longer version, but you can find it here.
As I looked forward to our anniversary this year, originally to be spent baking in the sun on a deserted beach somewhere (thanks Covid), as usual my mind went right past our wedding day, which was so fun, and straight to all the life we've lived together since. We’re in the best (marriage) shape we’ve ever been, but it didn’t come without a boatload of heartache and wreckage. We're living proof of God's promise that we'll be "pressed down but not destroyed."
We held on for dear life, grasping at whatever straws we could get our hands on to keep our marriage and our little family together.
15 things that held us together when nothing else would
- Belief that God put us together for a reason
- Belief that the reason God put us together wasn’t over yet
- Counseling (seriously – just go.)
- Willingness to have the hard conversations
- The life we wanted for our children
- Our beautiful backyard
- Weekly date nights (even when we glared at each other and sat in silence)
- Daily coffee club
- Sacrificial love
- Refusal to quit
- Staying under the same roof (it was hard)
- Staying in the same bed (that was even harder)
- Tightening our circle
- Speaking only kind words about each other to other people (we learned this the hard way)
- Trashing old, bad patterns and committing to better, healthy ones
We have lots of scar tissue. But our life heals and thrives despite it. Not one year of our marriage has been like the next, and neither one of us imagined the life we’re still building now. Every choice we’ve made, good, bad, and ugly, has brought us here. And there’s nothing I’d trade away. Every horrible conversation was/is worth it. So was every tear we cried. Every prayer. Every apology. Every reluctant forgiveness. Every scared offering of trust. Every embarrassing admission and vulnerable truth-telling.
We’re only one choice away from pointing our lives, our marriages, our parenting, our faith, our health, our wealth, and our futures in a different direction. What a relief it is to know that the mistakes we make (while some of them are much messier to recover from) can be repaired by making intentional choices in the going-forward.
If your marriage needs that kind of “redirection” (I’m laughing because that’s the most G-rated way to say “If your marriage is staring over the cliff of complete destruction”), or you feel defeated, be encouraged that you still have the power of choice.
Choose to say the kind word, or nothing at all. Choose to affirm something in your spouse even when they’re breaking your heart. (This is not being a doormat. This is intentionally deciding to be kind.) Choose to give love instead of deliberately withhold it. Choose to stay in the conversation instead of walking away. Choose to answer politely instead of throwing a grenade. Choose your body language. Choose your tone. Choose your facial expression. Choose how you spend your time. Choose how you speak about your spouse to others. Choose a better inner monologue. Choose to believe things can and will change for the better… one small choice at a time.
Choosing love does work in the real world
In case all this sounds like a braggadocious fairy tale of utopian marital bliss, here’s how it went down this morning: All three children were awake and in our bed before 7AM because of a lightning storm, we can’t get rid of horseflies in the kitchen, and I found a weeks-old moldy bottle while I was cleaning up from the dog scattering the inner workings of a beanie baby all over the living room rug. Oh, and I've been eating so much salt my rings won't come off and so much sugar my pants don't fit. We live in the real world, people.
There’s so much magic in it, though. You just have to decide you want to see it.
Local friends, if you need a little support right now, head to True North Counseling. You can find them on Facebook at True North, The Woodlands. This is not an ad – this is how strongly I feel about good counseling. True North is offering a steal of a deal for new clients, whether you need marriage support, personal support, or just a listening ear to help sort through the many emotions the ‘rona is dredging up. If finances have been standing in your way of seeking help for your wellness, let this be the day you move forward.