Choosing love 10 years later and the lessons we have learned along the way
According to the Bible, marriage is a gift for this life (Luke 20:34). Before having a deeper knowledge of the word and theology, Josh would look at me and in the sweetest possible way he would say, "But if I am not married to you in heaven, I don't want to go." Oh that man. He loves deeply and he has taught me so much but mostly what true love looks like in this life.
I have to be honest though, all 10 years of marriage have not been gushy love notes and whispers of sweet nothings. I can remember a time when we babysat for a life group, pre-kids, and someone asked us, "Do you guys ever fight? You both seem too nice to fight with each other." I politely smiled and thought to myself, "If you only knew."
The mathematics of a marriage are as such: One very different person plus another very different person (possibly both strong-willed as in our case) joining lives, equals two different views of life, learning and love. Now through that, you can choose to work through those differences to find a common ground to become one in which God designed, or you can focus on the mindset of how your ways are best and your spouse must not be on the same path as you.
As the saying goes, "It is not what you have that matters, but what you do with what you have." If you chose this person for a lifetime of marriage, at all costs, make the most of that marriage regardless of how you feel at times.
There have been plenty of circumstances through our years together where the feeling of being "in love" may not have been there. We have had to grow together through our different character vices. We have had to grow together through times of uncertainty, depression and miscarriages. We have chosen to grow together—not apart, through the completely opposite paths in which our careers and daily lives took. We choose to make it all work together, by the grace of God, and according to the will of our heavenly Father in whom we rely heavily on His direction for our family and our lives.
The beautiful thing I have found, is that when we chose to love each other through the good, the bad and the ugly, we can still very much experience the feeling of being "in love" 10 years later.
"But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself." — C.S. Lewis
I had no idea what would lie ahead in marriage when getting married at the young age of 20, but at that age, I still believed that I knew exactly what I was doing and that I knew what was best. The only thing I can say is, thank the Lord that he knew exactly what he was doing with our lives! Our saving grace is and always has been our love for the Lord and having a desire to follow him in all we do. Without a doubt, God has been our rock and foundation.
When you get married at such a young age, (does anyone remember that show on MTV called "Engaged and Underage"? If not, I am sure you can google it and find all kinds of crazy youngsters trying to figure out marriage at a young age, for some reason it feels very familiar to our situation) not only do you work through the challenges of two lives coming together, but you work through the challenges of growth in your 20's. I feel like our 20's were our years of growing pains where we not only discovered who we were as people, but also who we are as parents and the hope and direction we have for our family.
All that to say, here is what I have learned in 10 years of marriage:
- He still takes his socks off and throws them into the magic black hole that he thinks will end in a laundry basket on the other side.
- If I want his help with house work, I just have to tell him we have guests coming over in 30 minutes.
- Greet him with a warm welcome when he gets home, it has been a long day for him as well.
- Even after 11 1/2 years together, he still can not read my mind. Communication is vital.
- Trusting in my husband to lead our family has been the best and wisest thing I can do as a wife.
- Having kids has refined us both individually and together as a whole. They absolutely make us better people and we are forever grateful to God for allowing us to be the parents of Jude, Lila and Gwyn.
- Sometimes it is not what you say, but how you say it that can really turn a conversation. "So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." — Ephesians 5:33 Confession. When we got married, it took me years to realize that I frequently spoke to Josh in a tone that was disrespectful. It took him years to lovingly communicate that to me, and it took me years to recognize the tone and to effectively change my tone in times of frustration and exhaustion.
- The hardest and best thing you can do for your marriage is lay aside the things you "feel like you deserve". Selfishness will drive you further apart and give that nasty devil a foothold.
- Praying for your spouse does work, even if the prayers take a few years. ;)
- Having someone who can help you see when you are wrong in a situation while still reassuring you that he is on your side is incredibly valuable.
- Learning to be quick to forgive has changed my stubborn heart. Like many people, for years I wanted to always be "right" in an argument or situation. Instead of demanding my own way, choosing to forgive has been much more powerful in our marriage.
I tried to keep it to 10 things in 10 years, but each and every one of those bullet points are incredibly valuable to me. I would not want to nor would I be able to live this life with anyone else (I just do not think anyone could put up with my incessant indecisiveness and cheesy/awkward personality) and I can confidently say that Josh has been my rock and my joy and an incredible gift in my life. I am confidently expecting greater things ahead because I know that through Christ, we can experience an abundant life that he has planned for us.
I am thrilled to see what the next 50+ years will be like with my family and I am bursting with thankfulness to be given these opportunities in life and to share them with you all. Thank you for reading and loving our family!
As always, be sure to follow me on Instagram for the latest, I may even start sharing some throw back pictures of the two of us since I am going to be sharing all about our story next week. Have a wonderful week everyone!