Sunday, July 8, 2012
16 Years of Not so Wedded Bliss
We were in the years of our marriage usually considered the honeymoon stage. Yet there I was, anxiously inquiring my husband’s approval to purchase a book entitled What if I Married the Wrong Person? “Go ahead and buy it. I saw it too but I didn’t want to upset you.” Carrying the book to the cashier was a sad but honest moment as we both acknowledged our unhappiness in this marriage.
A couple of years later, I was sitting across my friend’s kitchen table as she exposed the truth of my heart. “You don’t really seem to like him very much.” Was it really that obvious? Apparently it was evident enough that the purpose of our visit was centered on a marriage conference. I don’t know if there was a flicker of hope in either of our hearts or if it was simply the fear of coexistence that prompted our attendance at Family Life's Weekend to Remember. Either way, this became a turning point in our marriage. Change was not instantaneous but we walked away with the tools to work at becoming one in our life together.
As I think back on the first five years of what should have been wedded bliss, I can’t help but feel like we wasted what could have been the best years of our lives. When I shared my feelings with my husband, he assured me that “God will restore the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2). Some days as we juggle the commitments of life and raising three little girls, I still wonder. Most days, however, the struggles and battles of those beginning years together are a reminder of how far we have come. God truly does work miracles.
Our sixth anniversary didn’t bring with it any grand celebration to mark the change in our life together. Actually, we only celebrated with takeout and a movie but it was due to the blessing of our newborn baby. We were able to enjoy our life together and our little family for what seemed to be the first time. Until my husband’s job made him travel about 90% of the time through the pregnancy of our second child and the beginning of her life. While this time period carried a lot of stress, nothing compared with the adjustments of working past the selfishness those initial five years held. Not even watching cancer claim the lives of both of our dads the same year our youngest daughter was born. There was just something about working through those seemingly hopeless years that ensured us we could get through anything.
Sixteen years into our lifelong commitment, I firmly believe that persevering through the early trials and tribulations gave us a foundation of hope. It certainly hasn’t been easy. With every obstacle we faced, however, we did it together. We have learned that we make a great team. In those moments where one of us “lost that loving feeling”, we are grateful for the knowledge that marriage is not a 50/50 arrangement. To make this work for a lifetime, there needs to be 100% commitment on both of our parts.
God as our foundation has been the saving grace for our union (as well as our lives) especially in the dark times. Divorce has not been an option. We know that in everything, Christ is our example of what love looks like. Our marriage is an opportunity to point to Him.
The card I bought my husband this year tells him I adore him… and I do. I remember the days where I strained to find the card that spoke love and honesty all in one. This year’s card tells him I am grateful for him… and my heart swells with appreciation for all He does. It calls him my friend that I cherish… he truly is the one I want to spend my days with.
We got away for a bit last weekend to celebrate our anniversary. I can honestly say that I was disappointed to return to reality. One of the best things we do for our marriage is take short little getaways without the kids. This year we had to enlist the help of many in order to pull it off. We are so blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who bend over backwards to help keep our marriage strong.
After sixteen years of marriage, I might go back in time and do a lot of things differently if I had the opportunity to do them over again. One thing I would NOT change is the man that I married. God knew best (as He always does) when He gave me Rod to spend my lifetime with. My husband completes me and I’m forever grateful to have him in my life. I’m better with him than without him.
“She’s got gaps; I got gaps. Together we fill gaps.” – Rocky