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There is a long-standing joke in our family about my first husband. It goes something like this, “My first husband never watched football.” This is said on the rare occasion when my guy decides to sit down and watch a college football game. We both laugh because neither of us has been married more than once.

Instead, this joke is aimed at all the ways we have changed over the years of being together. We married very young—I was 15 and he was just a week past his 17th birthday. Life was difficult with both of us still in high school, and our family would be growing in a few short months. We married in the summer, and as school started again, we had a full schedule of high school classes, vocational school, and working late each evening to make ends meet. We truly burned the candle at both ends.

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Over our years together, school ended, jobs changed, and additional children were born. We gained time to breathe, even relax, every so often. We acquired hobbies; he came to like football and hunting while I preferred scrapbooking our family’s memories. We grew and changed as the years went by. Our interests were not always the same; there were many years when it felt like I lived a life of babies and children, and his life was in the workplace.

After a rocky spot in our marriage, we knew we had to carve out time for us as a couple. We decided to make a weekly date night, hiring a babysitter to corral the chaos of our big family for a few hours. Knowing that every Tuesday night, I would get time alone with my guy made all the difference in me not feeling alone in life.

As our relationship rekindled, it strengthened too. We were too busy with the children for weekends alone, but that didn’t stop us from focusing on family time together. Time spent camping, working on our farm, or gathering around the backyard firepit for a marshmallow roast. It was during that time I could see the change, not only in who my man was in our relationship but also in who he had grown to be as a father. He mentors the kids, working alongside them and guiding them, but most importantly, he prays for them. He is a man of deep faith, always taking care of both our physical and spiritual needs.

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This change was never more evident than the year we celebrated our 29th anniversary. Our then-2-year-old had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She fought hard with her daddy and me right beside her. The care I saw him give her was so selfless, making sure her needs were met and that I was okay too. He volunteered to stay the nights at the hospital because he knew how much I hurt sleeping on the hospital couch. He was rewarded late at night when a little voice would break through the dark, “Dad?”

“Yes?” he would answer.

“Dad, I love you,” her sleepy voice would reply. She never said more, just needing the calm assurance that her daddy was close.

While he resembles my “first husband” in many ways, the change is evident. His beard is now salt and pepper where it was once a rich brown, he works a little slower than his adult sons, and bedtime comes earlier as his energy has lessened. None of these changes make him less in my eyes. His gray was hard-earned, giving evidence to years of wisdom, his slower pace makes it easier to grasp his hand and match his step, and going to bed earlier gives us more intentional time together each day. No, he is not the man I first married, but I am so grateful for the man he grew to be.

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Courtney Mount

Millie's Mama, Courtney Mount became an author when Millie was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma in the summer of 2019. She is a Christian wife and homeschooling mother to nine children. She and her husband live on an 80-acre hobby farm where they enjoy playing with the kids and grandchildren. Courtney is the Author of the children's book, "Millie Finds Her Miracle" which is a gentle introduction to death for young children. She frequently blogs on Millie's Miracle FB page, shares her stories on HVFH, and has been a featured guest on numerous podcasts. She is currently writing a book about grief, surviving loss, and embracing Millie's Miracle that brought healing from cancer in heaven.  Find more on MilliesMiracle.Net

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