Wednesday, June 7, 2017

One Year Away

I can remember pretty vividly a few things about our first year of marriage.

One, when we would meet anyone married more than 5 years, we automatically assumed they had arrived at some kind of marriage wisdom pinnacle.

Two, we had literally no idea what we were doing or who we were as a couple. We just knew we wanted to figure it out together.
June 7, 2003, Right after the ceremony

Three, we spent a lot of time in silence because we didn't yet know how to fight.

And now?

Now we are one year away from celebrating 15 years together in marriage. 15 years, 4 houses, 3 interstate moves, 3 children and countless hours of making the choice, again and again, to say "I will."

I think back on those young people. On how much we didn't know. How we didn't know that he would go back to school and we'd move three times as a result. How we didn't know that we would deal with miscarriage and infertility and come out stronger, by God's grace. How we didn't know we would have to go through the agony of finding a church and a new community (supremely challenging for a couple of introverts) more times that we would like. How we didn't know we would have to learn multiple ways of being parents because of the unique challenges and joys of being an adoptive family. How we didn't know that those hours in silence that first year when we didn't know how to deal with conflict would turn into a faint memory. How we didn't know that it was possible to love someone more 14 years later than we did that wedding day full of love and joy and celebration with all those we held dear.

But we know now.

Marriage isn't easy. It's not all rainbows and unicorns and skipping through meadows of wildflowers. It's not just "Hey, let's have some kids and share our love and grow happily old together." At least not for everyone.

It's a choice. Every single day. To look at one another, say "yes" again, and invite God to help us love that person more than we are capable of on our own.

One of the things I will never forget from our ceremony was the moment our pastor said this:

"You won't wake up every day and look at each other and think "this person is such a blessing to me". You will have to make a decision every day to love."

Our First Dance
We talk about what he said all the time. We remind ourselves that it's not about how we feel in the mornings, but the promise we've made to each other. And that promise usurps everything else. How our kids are feeling and what they need. Whatever else is going on, WE come first in this family. Our marriage has to function for our family to thrive. This reality, I am increasingly learning, is a countercultural way to look at marriage in a very kid-centric America.

So what do I think on this 14th anniversary?

I think that though it is continually about making a choice, I do love this man more than I did on that day 14 years ago. That I have married this incredibly generous person who embodies sacrificial love to me and to our boys. I am reminded every day of his goodness and his light. When I walk downstairs every morning and see him on the back deck, starting his day in prayer, I pause. I can trust him because I know that he is trusting God for what he needs to love me well.

That, my friends, is a miracle. Especially from a recovering marriage skeptic.

I think we don't have any particular wisdom, we just have experience. 14 years and multiple moves and 3 children worth of experience. And that means something. We aren't the same people we were on that rainy day in June. We are so much better.
At UR, June 7, 2003

So, to my love, happiest of anniversaries. 14 years down, hopefully many more to come. Hopefully we will stay put for awhile in this new home, this new town. Hopefully that will give us a much-needed chance to breathe and set down roots and continue to figure out who we are together.

I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else.

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