Nineteen years today. And what’s to be said about marriage that hasn’t already been said? Is it worth repeating how you start off with starry eyed, weak- kneed, butterfly flutter, feelings of love and lust and hope- and how sometimes over the course of the husband and wife life you go to sleep with your back to a stranger you’re convinced doesn’t know you after all? Like maybe you’ve made a mistake. Like maybe it’s impossible to stay in love with someone after so many years of messy life.
You change and he changes and you change again. Resentments are left to fester and apologies aren’t frequent enough. Family size increases and with that the overwhelm and hormones and exhaustion and energy zap of pregnancies and infants, toddlers, preschoolers, middle -schoolers, teenagers. So much can get in the way of maintaining that fragile relationship of man and woman, and so many dreams disappoint. Stress builds to the level that you end up blowing up at each other over who misplaced the car keys (usually me) and because conflict resolution is something neither of you are stellar at, you end up not talking for a week. And there it is again, the back to a stranger in a cold bed full of hurt. So much of marriage is all this, navigating the mere human-ness, and imperfections of two people born sinners.
If you hold on through these deep valleys, those dark, lonely chasms of doubt; if you fight hard to climb up and out of those dank places you will eventually find yourself hand in hand with your best friend standing on a hilltop, sun on your face, breeze at your back. And you’ll know that all of it is worth it. And you’ll know that even though life has a way of throwing you back down again eventually, you have the tools and the strength to make your way back up again and endure.
And you learn that strength comes from adversity, and so you don’t shy away from hard work. And you learn that a marriage without Christ at the center feels helpless and hopeless, and so you learn to pray together even though it’s awkward at first. And you learn that although pregnancies and children add work and stress and financial strain and a highlighting of differences between you and him, they add enough joy and growth and legacy to a marriage that it’s all worth overcoming. And so you grow your family and it becomes so meaningful to welcome a new baby to the mix – your mix, because all the work forces you to work together and working together builds a relationship that gains victory over the mess. You learn to rejoice in small victories because although big dreams are important, they have a way of disappointing. And you embrace the changing seasons- good and hard. And through all that work and sacrifice and dreaming and climbing, that matrimony, you gain a partner, a friend, that truly does know you better than you ever thought possible.
Embrace the hard work. Fight to keep loving. Learn to forgive. The best is yet to come.