It’s 12:30 a.m. and you’re snoring softly beside me—as beside me as you can be on the other edge of our king size bed with our one-year-old’s limbs splayed out between us. I’m tired, but I can’t sleep, can’t get my brain to still the incessant churning of thoughts.
We’re in a season of stress, what feels like a never-ending time of challenge and generalized yuck. We never get enough sleep (haven’t, really, since the moment we brought our first baby home almost ten years ago). We’ve had our house destroyed by a catastrophic flood, had to live through the taxing rebuilding process that stretched over a year and tested our resolve. We’ve moved, changed jobs, lost family and dear friends. And, more recently, we’ve assumed the unnatural role of worried children fretting over parents as your dad battles cancer that caught us completely off-guard.
I’ll be honest—none of this looks quite how I thought it would, back when we dreamed about how all this was going to look.
But, listening now to your even breathing, feeling without feeling your solid, steady presence at my side, I’m certain it’s exactly how it’s meant to be.
When we said our vows those years—a lifetime—ago, we were practically kids ourselves. Starry-eyed and unreasonably blinded by the lens of young love, we stood at the altar that afternoon grinning at one another like two Cheshire cats who’d swallowed canaries. The future was a glittering expanse of hope, a boundless playground of possibility, that ridiculous fabled oyster. There we were, standing on the edge of it, giddy with love, greedily awaiting the wondrous adventure that was undoubtedly ours.
How completely naive we really were.
It’s tempting to say I wish I could travel back in time, my sadder and wiser current self able to pull those lovebirds aside and open their eyes to the realities of marriage, of life, of faith and love and loss.
But truthfully? I wouldn’t dare—because we needed that blissfully ignorant start to appreciate the fullness of what it means to walk through life as two who have become one in every possible way.
Because as the years and experiences and kids have added up, we’ve banked something else, something surprisingly important: struggle.
It sounds funny, right? To be grateful for the times we feel the least in control. But, it’s those times—these seasons—that reveal and refine the strength we have as husband and wife, as mommy and daddy, as children of an omniscient and sometimes completely confounding God.
That’s not to say when we face hard times, we instantly drop our overblown self-interests and ask each other, “How can I help you?” then act accordingly, with love. We’ve spent far too many nights seething over words left unsaid and hurts left unexpressed to claim to have mastered the art of unselfish living and unfettered devotion.
The truth is, it’s not easy to put another’s well-being ahead of your own—even when you’ve created life together, showed all your vulnerable spots, laid bare your deepest fears.
But when we do? When we get it right and allow the stretching and stressing of our marriage to bring about growth and change? It makes all the difference.
And I don’t tell you often enough, I know, but your happiness, your sense of peace, your comfort and joy and security and strength—I can’t have those things for myself (don’t want them, really) unless I know you have them first.
And maybe it’s not politically correct, or modern, or progressive—but I want to serve you. I want to build you up when you feel small and unworthy. I want to be your soft place to land when the world and all it’s hurt is too much and too hard. I want to give you children who respect and treasure you, who want to grow up to make their father proud.
I want to be for you what you are for me—because it’s deeper and richer and more beautiful than I could have ever hoped when we promised forever.
And more than anything, I want our marriage to be what God intends: an unselfish vessel, refined by struggle and sorrow, made beautiful by grace we don’t deserve and can’t fully comprehend.
So here’s to the struggle, to the challenge, to the yuck. It only makes me love you—who we’re becoming together—so much more every day.
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