This Crazy Little Thing Called Love…
A few humble, hard-fought lessons from some good and hard days of MARRIAGE…
My not-so-little sister got married this past weekend and as part of their celebration, they did a generations dance. All the married couples danced to "Remember When." People with smooth skin and wrinkled, smiled at each and swayed to music. Slowly couples married less years sat down until one couple was left standing — a marriage 67 years in the making, my grandparents.
Can you imagine being married for 67 years in a culture where a marriage lasting more than 67 weeks is a rarity? Can we not simply hang in there for 67 years, but also enjoy the ride? That's our plan.
Last year to mark our 10 year anniversary, I wrote 10 Lessons from 10 Years of Marriage. Last Saturday, my husband and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary and I've been mulling over what I've learned in our past year of marriage. If you stop learning, you stop growing.
So, here I humbly offer my lesson 11, from an 11 year + 8 day old marriage:
I heard recently that the hardest years in marriage are the ones after the wedding. That may be hard to believe on this very perfect day where everything went as planned. As you gaze into each other’s smiling eyes, you might not be able to imagine that at some point, you will stare into those same eyes, only all of a sudden, they may look quite angry.
Unpleasantly surprising thoughts like, “this is not what I signed up for,” or, “this is not what I expected,” or, “it was not supposed to be like this,” might wander through your mind.
When you find yourselves with your fight faces on, I want you to remember this: Choosing to fight for each other, rather than with each other, will change the climate of your marriage.
So, let this be your fight song. Your take back your life song. And your prove your marriage is alright song, because I know you’ve both got lots of fight left in you.
I held up my hand like a stop sign, warning him not to come any closer to this ticking time bomb, along with a verbal warning declaring I did not want to talk in that moment. I continued my cleaning storm around the kitchen, bulldozing over my own marriage LESSONS #1-7 in record-breaking time. He was trying not to laugh aloud at his wife-turned-Hulk -meets-Tasmanian-Devil. His obliviousness to why I was upset in the first place only fueled my fire.
I refused eye contact, staring only at the ground, my thoughts returned to the mounting pile of verbal dirt I wanted to throw. But even in my rage, I knew I would have only seconds of satisfaction before we would both pay the price. Sin is expensive that way. It would bulldoze the hard-fought love, safety, and closeness in our relationship to the ground.
But I wanted to throw dirt, because I was feeling hurt.
It’s embarrassingly easy to point the finger in marriage and come up with a long list of ways your spouse isn’t meeting your expectations or measuring up. But have you ever flipped the question and asked yourself and God, Am I loving well? Am I loving like Christ has loved me?
Have you ever wondered, "How do I get him to change?"
I did. I'm slightly/extremely ashamed of just how much I did.
How do I get him to serve at church? How do I get him to want to go to church? How do I get him to want to read His Bible? How do I get him to be more thoughtful? How do I get him to write in his journal? How do I get him to start doing this? How do I get him to stop doing that?
It's exhausting trying to be omnipotent. Perhaps you've done more than wonder — you've planned and persuaded, and, like me, discovered you in fact do not possess the same giftedness as the Holy Spirit. We can't make someone change, but oh, we are stubborn to try. We inform minds; we cannot transform hearts.
I'd be willing to bet if you didn't already know you couldn't change someone, getting married lead you to experiential knowledge of this truth.
I hardly know how we have been married a decade, but the calendar assures me that it has in fact been 10 years since we first said I do.
Ten years ago today, my dad walked me down the aisle and had to gather himself as he began to choke up before praying to begin the ceremony. He was a man of very few tears but on that day he was feeling a little emotional. He lovingly and only half-jokingly reprimanded Mike for not paying attention during his message. He was too busy smiling at me. I vaguely recall a basketball analogy but I too was very distracted gazing into the eyes of the man who was about to become my husband.
Our wedding day took its own course. Our photographer was actually mean and a bit rude. I remember him yelling at the wedding party to not look so grouchy in the photos as they all boiled in heat and squinted in the highest UV index of the summer. One of the vehicles carrying the wedding party broke down on the way to our picture location which was 45 minutes away from the reception instead of 15. And there was no cell service to call our parents to tell them we would be late. We were an hour (maybe more) late to our wedding reception (surprise, surprise, right?). Some of the DJ's equipment got stolen at the gas station but somehow he managed to still get everyone out of the floor. We headed to the nearby chalet where we would spend our first night together only to find we had grabbed one of the bridesmaids suitcases that looked like ours.
Rehashing these details almost makes it sound like the whole day was a disaster. It was anything but because we still achieved the goal of the day: to get married. It was the day we committed to each other and crossed the starting line of this marathon. Everything else was just details.
This is the day it all began.
This very day 13 years ago, Mike asked me to be his girlfriend. One year after that, he said I love you for the first time.
Last year, this was the day he got lost, and I am every so thankful it was also the day he was found. One year later, I'm glad there are 4 things this day marks and not only 3.