In a few short days, my husband and I plan to pack our carry-on bags (his filled with sensible items like sunscreen and bug spray and mine teeming with tiny items of clothing not fit to be seen by our children and the kind of lacy underthings that led to the production of our children) and board a plane to San Juan, Puerto Rico for our anniversary. There, we’ll look at all the beautiful things and have a lot of sex. This is what anniversary trips are for, are they not?

This week, all the wedding photos and anniversary posts have begun popping up in my “on this day” feed on Facebook. Today, it was our wedding video montage with the song “Today Was a Fairy Tale” playing in the background. And yes, that day was a fairy tale, an absolute dream come true, but marriage is not a fairy tale. Not unless we’re talking about the old-school kind where little kids get eaten, or little gingerbread men turn into real men, then get eaten, or egg-shaped people end up so broken no one can put them back together again, then marriage might be somewhat like a fairy tale.

Please hear me, my husband is the hero in our love story, and there is great love in our tale, but nothing about our story is easy, and he is the hero because he chooses to be, every single day. When it would be easier to stop loving, he pursues my heart. While it feels like trials will never end, he is undeterred.

We make these vows, “for richer or poorer in sickness and in health.” I can tell you for sure sickness will lead you to poorer with a quickness.

We seem to make these vows in hopes we’ll never have to keep them, that somehow we’ll only know sunshine and rainbows.

Friends, have you ever wondered if your husband would love you the same if you gained 60 pounds and could no longer care for yourself? If days went by and you couldn’t even brush your hair? If you couldn’t walk yourself to the bathroom, would your husband touch you or speak to you with the same tenderness? I don’t have to wonder.

I can tell you with certainty my husband loves me the same no matter what the scale says or my level of functionality on any given day. Did I dream of a happily ever after where I was sometimes unable to wash my own hair? I did not. But a man who washes it without complaint and loves me just the same exceeds my wildest expectations of what love might look like.

So yes, I am thrilled to get on a plane and go on adventures, to see new things, and maybe try new things with the hero of my story, but these adventures aren’t the fairy tale.

They aren’t the parts that make him the hero. They aren’t the moments that take my breath away. No, those are tucked away in the seemingly impossible days when he chooses me over and over again, simply because he said he would all those years ago, “In sickness and health, till death do us part.” Marriage isn’t a fairy tale, but it can be a dream come true when we choose one another simply because we said we would.

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Stacey Philpot

Stacey is an author, goofball and avid reader. You can find her blog at http://chronicallywhole.com/ where she endeavors to encourage other warriors like herself along in their journey of battling for health and discovering wholeness. She is mom to Hayden and Avery, stepmom to Julie and wife to Ryan (a smarty pants who works at NASA and logs their whole life on spreadsheets and pie charts, true story!) She has a strange affinity for eating whole meals in bed (don’t tell anyone) and is convinced smelling old books will make her smarter.

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