I cry almost every day he is not home. He is off doing the right thing, and here I sit, walk, shop, swim in the benefit of it. I miss him. We got married to have and to hold, to be together, but this is marriage.

Life. So much happens. As much as I would wish my life to be a cinema-worthy romance reel of sunset outtakes with our song playing in the background, that is not life. Marriage isn’t the fade after she jumps into his arms and we know they’ll be together forever as the credits roll.

Marriage is the hard stuff. It’s the best stuff, but it isn’t a highlight reel.

It’s going to work and grocery shopping and cooking dinner and cleaning it up.  

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It’s deciding where the kids will go to school and which insurance plan to get this year and getting the oil changed in the cars. 

It’s budgeting and paying for college and wondering if we will have time to go on an anniversary date

It’s nights awake with children lying in hospital beds. 

It’s laundry and folding his socks and rubbing each other’s shoulders.  

It’s watching the eyes of the one you love grow tired and his hair grow silver. 

It’s stolen moments when the kids leave the room and sometimes when they don’t. 

It’s still wanting to touch when you fall asleep at night.

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This is marriage if we are lucky. 

Lucky? No. If we fight for it. 

You want a 10-year marriage? Fight for it.

You want a 20-year marriage? Fight for it.  

50, 60, 70 years? Never. Stop. Fighting.

When we see a couple, lines on their faces, age-spotted hands with fingers intertwined, feet slowly shuffling toward one another still, they know what we don’t. They fought to get there.

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Don’t you see? Marriage isn’t great because it sits through time like water growing algae in a stagnant pond. It is great because it flowed like a river, broad and swift, then suddenly slower, more of a trickle, dividing around rocks, crashing through the rapids, then back together again before going over the falls and settling gracefully below. Still. Flowing together, staying together, moving on together.

This is marriage.

Marriage takes work. Thankfully, there’s an app that can help! Lasting—the nation’s #1 relationship counseling app—provides accessible sessions designed to help you build a healthy marriage. Download and take Lasting’s free Relationship Health Assessment.

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Hollie Gilman

Hollie Gilman is a freelance writer who has spent the last 21 years momming, homeschooling her three almost-grown-and-flown children, and working with her husband of 24 years. She is a lifelong passionate learner in all things faith, health, and leadership. Right now she is loving her new life in the country (being a pretend farmer) just outside her hometown of Richmond, VA. She occasionally spills her guts on her blog https://www.holliegilman.com/.