I met my husband when I was 19. I knew right away there was something there. I was intrigued by him—his looks, his smile, his big heart, his mysterious side. He was unapologetically himself. He listened to his music a little too loud, did his own thing, didn’t try to impress my parents, and lived his life on his own terms. With his hat backward, those big blue eyes, and that mischievous grin . . . I fell hook, line, and sinker.
I loved the fact that he had his own house, his own boat, his own life. I was still so naive and young. At that point in my life, there had been little independence. I loved the fact that he seemed to be self-sufficient and Mr. Independent.
When he asked me to marry him a year later, I without hesitation said yes! (Well, the second time he asked but that is a story for another time.) However, my 20-year-old self had never really thought a lot about marriage. Sure, I had imagined my wedding and I always knew I wanted to get married and start a family, but I had never put a lot of thought into actual marriage.
I think a lot of times as young adults we think about shallow things—looks, the butterflies, the I can’t get enough of you feelings, the wedding, the honeymoon. Yet, we put little thought into what marriage really is. We don’t see five years down the road—the sleepless nights with your first child, your body no longer recognizable, the fear that you are doing everything wrong, the change in the duo dynamic to be a family of three. The resentment that comes when your husband sleeps all night, but you are up five times with the baby. The annoying sounds or the little things he does that make you cringe.
We don’t see the hard times—the arguments over little things that turn into big things or the stress of work, raising a family, money, building a life. In our case, we definitely didn’t see our youngest child being diagnosed with an incurable chronic illness.
It never crossed my mind that at some point in our marriage, we would want to throw in the towel. That one or both of us would want out. I could never have imagined a time when we would still love each other but couldn’t stand one another.
However, all of those things came to pass. Time has a way of changing things—kids come along, the dynamics change, life gets stressful, things get hard, life is busy and fast-paced, the butterflies go away, you try to survive, and you forget to miss each other because you are so overwhelmed with life.
But, if you stick it out and refuse to give up, you look back and you can see the miracle of the life you’ve created. The sweet memories—working to get your first house, becoming parents together, learning to survive those baby years, the funny stories from the toddler years, the vacations, the everyday sweetness that the evening brings when the busy day is over, the bond that’s unbreakable, the comfort of knowing someone is always in your corner, the familiarity of their touch, the way they know you better than anyone else, the little things they do to make your life better, the way you can communicate with just one look, no words necessary.
You start to realize those Hallmark movies aren’t what you wanted after all. You realize that what you have is exactly what God intended marriage to be. You thank God for knowing what you needed even when you had no clue.
These thoughts ran through my head as I sat by my youngest son’s hospital bed. My husband had to sit in the car with our daughter because they wouldn’t let her in the hospital and we were three hours away from home. He would periodically run in to check on me and our son, bringing snacks and drinks. Giving me a break to use the restroom and relax for just a few minutes. He would then kiss me on the forehead and return to take care of our daughter.
Sitting there in that room thinking about it all, I couldn’t help but thank God for giving me this guy, this marriage, this little family. I realize that so many people marry for the wrong reasons. Some are like me and just don’t really give it much thought. Some just take the leap because it’s the next step. Very few think about all that life can and will bring their way.
Marry the man who will take turns getting up when your child is puking during the night. Marry the man who will help clean up the puke so you can rest just a little bit. Marry the man who will bring you your favorite drink so you can last the long hours in the hospital. Marry the man who will pack your lunch and tuck the kids into bed when the day has been more than you can handle. Marry the man who will look at you with your hair a mess, no makeup on, ugly crying, and still tell you how beautiful you are and mean every single word. It’s in scenarios like these that you completely comprehend the meaning of true love.
You should know, though, that it isn’t an easy road to get to the sweet spot of marriage. There will be ups and downs, times you think it’s over, times you want to quit, times you hate each other—but don’t give up. Keep working, rely on the good times, rely on God, and know that someday you’ll look back at the struggle and smile. You’ll thank God for knowing exactly what kind of spouse you needed when you had no clue.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page