Wednesday, May 25, 2016

On Sixteen Years

Sixteen years ago, I married my best friend, and I didn't even know it.  We were babies.  Just twenty- one and twenty-four.  After a whirlwind courtship (three weeks!) and a speedy engagement (three months!) we committed to a lifetime spent together.  While normally I'd say this was a recipe for disaster, in our case, it was a match made in heaven.  There was no doubt then, and never have I doubted since, that it was the Lord God who brought us together.

I was musing today about what I would do differently if we had to plan our wedding again.  I would pick the same dress, handmade by my mom, and wear a veil, but no tiara this time.  And my hair might be a little closer to something  natural (smile).  I wouldn't change a thing about the service- the church, our wedding party (my brother stood up with me and Josh's sister with him), the music, not even the thunder storm that messed up the sound equipment.  We got married in the era before digital photography (we are ancient) so our portraits would be more touched up and with much less formal posing.  Oh, and I'd smile real big cause I've had braces since then! We would still have an evening reception, but catered to make life easier for our families, and we would most definitely have dancing if we did it again.   To all the songs that have since become the soundtrack of our sixteen years together.

But even if it was just two people standing at an undecorated altar, him covered in wood pulp and paper stock from a messy day at work and her in an everyday pony tail and a quick coat of lipstick, I would make the same choice, say the same vows I said back then.

I'm still learning a lot about marriage and us.

Namely, we are so different.  Sometimes we want totally different things, things bigger than steak vs. chicken (but we'd both pick steak given the choice).  Sometimes the things we want are the things people part ways over.  But because we're not so different on the important stuff, the other stuff is just an opportunity to grow, broaden our horizons, learn something, or sometimes it's just an opportunity to die to ourselves.

What we've got is something others wish they had.  Maybe they don't want our four kids, or to be a one-income family, or drive a rusting Suburban, but when we look at each other and our fingers intertwine and we laugh together over some inside joke and then our lips meet... yeah, they want that.  The stripped away part of who we are is really good stuff.

At some point, even in a really great marriage, it's going to be something you have to fight for.  And the battle isn't against each other, the battle is with ourselves.  Very early on I learned that even if I was "right" in a situation, there was still some selfishness there if I demanded being "right". And selfishness is the battle for me.  It's wanting things my way.

You also have to fight for time together, for meaningful communication, for laughter when life just stinks. You have to fight for intimacy when you are both exhausted from long days on the job.  You have to fight to keep your marriage relationship number one, somehow, when the needs of your children really do take over and when other responsabilities must take up your time.  Marriage is real life, not a perpetual honeymoon.

But I've learned the power of second honeymoons. Third honeymoons, Fourth, fifth, and on and on.  What a powerful thing to get away together, even if it's just for a night (but a few nights is better!).  It's another thing you somehow have to make happen.  It's not spending, it's investing.

And on that note, monogamy rocks.  Enough said.  Blush if you must.

As Josh's wife, I have this incredible power, that could lead to absolute destruction if wielded wrong.  He cherishes and respects my thoughts, feelings, opinions (and I am FAR more opinionated than him), and because of this, I could be the one in control of this marriage.  But I have learned that while I have freedom to bare my heart, soul, and strong mind to this man, I also have the great blessing of leaving it with him to do what is right and good.  I know he would never do anything to hurt me or our family.

I have the power to make or break his career, ministry, reputation, and all sorts of things and that is a fearsome thing. I long to do him good and not evil all the days of my life, but there have been times I have failed at this.  I have always loved the quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding "The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants." There is a lot of truth in this, and I want to be careful to turn his head in the right direction.  Josh has always been my biggest fan. He's been on my side, even when I was wrong. He's been patient, kind, faithful.  In so many ways, he as been the making of ME.  Wow, love this man so much.

We aren't the babes we once were and I'm so grateful for that.  I love how we have grown together the more we have grown toward Jesus.  I love the laugh lines on his face, the graying hair around his temples. I love that I have not yet found a gray hair on my head.  And that if he has, he has not pointed it out to me.  Yes, I love him.

Marriage is such a sweet gift.  Sixteen years a gift to me.  And I still have so much to learn. But if it means spending a lifetime together, I'm up for it.