For Better. For Worse. Forever.

April 12, 2003

My husband and I have an anniversary coming up. It has been nine years of marriage and ten years of togetherness. It has been better and worse than I ever thought marriage could be. We have had struggles and trials that have made us question everything. There have been moments when we fully realize that what we went through the first several years of our marriage probably would have made a lot of people give up. When we explain just a fraction of what we battled during the first years of marriage, some have made it clear that they wouldn’t have blamed us if we had called it quits.

But we didn’t. We persevered. Even on days when neither of us wanted to, we CHOSE to love. We chose to stay. We chose to fight for our marriage. It was nothing we did on our own, of course. I truly believe God gave us the strength to continue in hope. He surrounded us with strong believers who wanted our marriage to succeed, who loved on us, prayed over us and mentored us. We would not be where we are today if God had not brought specific people into our lives at exactly the right time. And I don’t think it’s hard to see that He has fully blessed us for being faithful to Him and to our love. He has blessed our marriage in ways I can’t describe in words. It is not perfect nor will it ever be, but we have found that the past couple of years have been better and more fulfilling than we ever believed marriage could be. Instead of a “seven-year itch,” our seventh year of marriage was when God came in and cleared away so much of the debris that had been weighing our marriage down. We feel more love for each other than the day we got married. Because of how much we have been through together our love is deeper, richer and more meaningful than I believe it would have been had we not walked through the valleys.

I am not writing this out of pride but actually out of a deep and personal humility. On this month of my anniversary, I want everyone to know the meaning behind the obligatory Facebook anniversary “status.” I don’t want anyone to think everything is perfect, that we have it all together and then possibly get discouraged about their own marriage. Marriage is so hard and it takes work – a lot of work. But it is worth it. I hope to encourage couples to keep going – no matter how long you’ve been married. Fight for each other. Don’t let the enemy win. It will never be a fairy tale but God has big plans. And it will be more than anything you could have ever dreamed on your own.

Marriage has brought out the worst in my husband and I at times. But it seems like our culture wants us to keep that hush-hush and put on a pretty, fake facade. We definitely felt this way for years. We tried to keep our “junk” hidden – where the problems grew and festered, only getting worse and worse. It is not a topic that people freely bring up. It is so hard to be vulnerable – even with your own spouse. But we started attending a church where we learned how to do life differently – especially when it comes to relationships. We sought counseling. We were mentored and we grew. We learned about how important the word “grace” is. And we started giving it more and getting it more. I know that if we hadn’t gotten to this point in our marriage, the current season of life we are in would have been significantly worse.

So, here’s to love that lasts and marriages that are full of God’s unending grace. Grace that fills up the dark and empty spaces that we don’t know what to do with. Grace that gives us renewed love for one another every single day. Here is just a fraction of my thankfulness…

I am thankful for a husband who walks with me in my darkness. He finishes my sentences when I can’t find the words. He sees the pain in my eyes when no one else notices. He is my best friend. He finds optimism when I can only see negative. He worries about me. . . constantly. He holds me when the pain is too much to bear and lets me cry my frustrations out on him. When I’m talking to friends, he whispers the word I am looking for when my brain cannot do it for me. He is always scanning my face for what my body might be enduring at any given moment. He lets “it” go so that the argument will go away too. He reads my every movement. He listens to my complaints. He makes Lyme jokes when we are with friends to get the 800 pound gorilla out of the room. He remembers for me when my memory has faded. He vacuums for me when he knows my body needs to rest. When I can only think of “relapse,” and “permanent damage” he talks about “remission” and “new treatments.” He gives me hope. He prays healing over the disease. He lets me sleep in. He makes me coffee and breakfast. He is not upset if dinner is not ready when he gets home and we have to order out. He puts up with my mood swings and my days of self loathing. He takes the girls to school because he knows how hard mornings are for me. He leaves work to be with me during IV treatments and sits for hours because he knows I’m scared – even if I said I wasn’t. Before falling asleep, he tells me to wake him up if I need anything, even if I just need to talk.

This is love. Real – Tough – Messy – Powerful – Life giving – Peace giving – Grace giving – Forgiving – Uplifting – LOVE.

Thank you, Ryan for your love, patience and your dedication to our marriage. Thank you for fighting so hard when many things were stacked up against us to fail. Thank you for enduring this “in sickness” season of our marriage along with me with so much grace. I could never do it without you. I love you.

Happy 9 years. To us.

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