Over the weekend Kyle and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. It is hard to even express how much this anniversary year meant to me. Probably because to be quite honest I never really thought we would make it this far.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here, marriage is hard!
If you asked me in the early days of wedded bliss I would even tell you that I wasn’t quite sure I was cut out for married life. I can list a whole host of witnesses prior to saying ‘I do’ that had heard me say at least a hundred times that I was NEVER going to get married.
But alas, my prince charming came along and I was swept away by the love bug.
Kyle and I had a sort-of whirl-wind courtship. Deciding early on that we didn’t bug each other and that if we were ever to do this marriage thing we would probably be able to tolerate each other. But, we also figured we had better hurry up before one or both of us chickened out (And our parents seemed to agree.)
So, from our formal “were together” announcement to our wedding day we had a total of 10 months to be sure we were right for each other.
(The romance of this story is nauseating, isn’t it?)
I share this only because, as a foundation to our marriage we have to admit it was a shaky one. So, this begs the question how on earth did we manage to make it a whole decade?
Well, it wasn’t easy. We have had many ups and downs as couple. And I would love to say that we never talked about divorce, but the truth is we did… annually it seemed for several years. Because the fact of the matter is when you live with someone day in and day out they will eventually bug you.
I can laugh about this now, because after 10 years, we know we will bug each other from time to time. But, we also have reached the place where we understand that love, at its root is not feeling. It is a choice. The choice to put someone else’s needs above your own. The choice to forgive even when the other person hasn’t said they are sorry yet. The choice and decision to love outwardly must begin internally.
Of course, we have had a little help over the years. I am eternally grateful to all of the people who kept us facing each other over the years. Our parents, our pastors, our friends who were ahead of us on the journey, and even those who were behind us and still so nauseatingly “in love.” We have been truly blessed that in our worst days, when we wanted to turn our backs on each other, or probably more accurately, run as far away from each other as possible. Those people would stand in our way, grab us by our emotional shoulders and stick us right back toe to toe with each other. Let me just say– it is very hard to not work things out when you know you are stuck facing someone you are having a conflict with. It is also hard not to smile. And if you smile, you are at risk for remembering something you like about a person.
So, there you have it, our great marital secret: No Escape!
I don’t know if this method would work for everyone, but I am thankful that it worked for us. I can even say that not only do I love my husband but I even like this man I am stuck with.
As the years have gone by I can also thankfully admit that we don’t mention the “D” word anymore, I don’t even think we ponder the idea. You see, all those times of being forced to face each other has developed a habit of us facing and working our problems out.
But eventually there would be (and there was) a conflict that I am certain no person could help us resolve. No, the only answer to those dark days was to hand our hearts over to God. These were excruciatingly hard times. But I learned during that time what it truly meant to let Christ be the center of our marriage. We had to surrender ourselves and let God bind our hearts together in a deeper way than anything else could. Learning (often at different paces) that our relationship must be rooted in God and his word. Not in each other or in some unrealistic ideal.
The good news is, that in the mix of it all, I remember that the good days have always outnumbered the bad. Kyle is truly my best friend and closest confidant. He knows me in ways no one else does. And that is such a good feeling. I love that after 10 years the best part of our marriage is that we still like each other (most days) and that our conflicts have changed in that they are less against each other and more about how to conquer life together. I would much rather argue about how WE want to get from point A to point B, than how I want A and he wants B. We are bound more as a team and less as individuals, yet without feeling like we have totally lost ourselves. Kyle has offered me more grace to be me than I ever thought possible. And I hope I have been a help and encouragement to him in some way over the years.
We also have three beautiful reminders that we have loved each other. Our children by far are the best bi-product of our marriage. And now when things get itchy we have these living breathing examples of our love and commitment to one another.
Of course I realize that even though we have grown a lot in the last ten years, we also have a lot more growing to do. Nothing in life is certain. We are just as human as anyone else. We are aware that if this marriage is going to succeed in the long run there is still much work to be done. We have to be vigilant to care for and protect our marriage. Lucky for us we both seem to like the adventure. :)