So I’ve been with my husband for over half my life having started dating when we were both 20 yrs old, and we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in June. If anyone ever asked me to give advice on the subject, the very best advice I think I could ever give is this: remember that you are not perfect either. I remember being engaged and planning in my mind how wonderful and perfect our lives were going to be. I think God has a sense of humor and allows us to see our spouse with rose colored glasses so we will actually go through with the wedding vows before reality sets in. And reality isn’t bad; it’s just not what you expect when you are in the throws of wedding planning, dreaming and mapping out the course of your life. Don’t get me wrong – I love being married to my guy, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything.
I’ve also learned that marriage is simply this: it’s the sequence of one good choice after another. It’s focusing on all that is going well instead of making a list of my spouse’s wrongs. It’s choosing to focus on all the blessings instead of counting all the things that didn’t go my way. It’s waking every morning with gratefulness for the partner at my side instead of waking with frustration at the argument we had the night before. It’s working my rear off to be the spouse my husband needs instead of trying to fix all the things in his personality that annoy me. It’s saying I’m sorry even when I don’t think my spouse deserves to hear it. It’s asking for forgiveness even when he is really the one who needs to be forgiven. It’s giving him a hug and seeking intimacy when I’d rather tell him to take a hike and stay out of my hair for the next week. It’s taking time to laugh together when I’d rather get my to do list done. It’s acknowledging and working really hard on my own imperfections when I’d rather focus on and tell him how to fix his.
Marriage is very simply two screwed up, imperfect people whom God places together to do this thing called life. It takes work, it takes hours and hours of communication, it takes perseverance – much more perseverance than you ever expect in those perfect honeymoon months. It takes commitment and honesty and having the hard conversations when feelings get hurt and tears fall. Marriage takes time. It takes a lot of effort. It’s a commitment like no other. It takes perspective to see that every day will not be wonderful, but every day will not be terrible either. There is good when you choose to find it. When you focus on all that is going right, the annoyances really take a back seat.
I’ve learned over the years that when you have a spouse you really love and enjoy being with, the hard is bearable, the tears are shared, the joys are exaggerated, the laughter is louder, the trust is deeper and the days are fuller. And honestly, even when we have seasons of dull/blah/take-it-or-leave-it, because there are plenty of those over the years, I wouldn’t have it any other way than to have him right here next to me. God has blessed me with a man who keeps me entertained, who makes me laugh every day, who gently reigns me in when needed, who calms me when I get angry, who patiently listens when I won’t stop talking, who loves me in spite of my annoying faults and who is my very biggest and loudest cheerleader. And I am proud to be his wife.
Marriage is a gift. Unfortunately there are far too many people who think it is disposable instead of something to be valued and cared for. You simply can’t discard a piece of yourself and that’s exactly what your spouse becomes when you unite in marriage and make that vow. I realize there are many reasons why marriages fall apart and I’m not here to give a dissertation on when it is or is not OK to get divorced. That’s a whole different subject I am not going to broach. My point is that every day is a choice to value and cherish the gift. God made us to desire communion with another, to seek romance and love and affection. He gave us the ability to live in harmony with a spouse and even gives us the skills and abilities to be successful at it.
The older I get the more I realize that each day can bring sorrow. Each day can bring surprises and wonderful moments. None of us knows what is around the next bend of our journey. Our journey has brought much more pain than I ever expected all those years ago when I was planning out my life. But having someone holding my hand so we can discover it together, knowing no matter what comes he has made the commitment to face it together, that I cherish. Every day. Because even in the tough times, every day has the ability to be beautiful. I love my guy; there’s just no way around it.