Marriage looks like a desperately needed, intertwined nap on a lazy, rainy afternoon and later chopping vegetables, side by side, for a favorite Soup Sunday recipe.

Marriage looks like pulling boxes of old pictures and albums out of storage and getting teary together, saying, “Remember when they were all so little?”

Marriage looks like praying on the floor for each family member at night and then falling asleep holding hands. 

Marriage looks like cranking up the volume and singing to our treasured songs.

Marriage looks like laughing daily together at our own goofiness and mistakes, without a hint of ego, resentment, or attempt to one up.

Marriage looks like attending our baby’s high school plays and choir concerts and taking in every second because we know how quickly she, too, will leave the nest. 

Marriage looks like grinning and shaking our heads at each other’s quirks, habits, and ways.

Marriage looks like accepting one another’s flaws and appreciating one another’s many strengths.

Marriage looks like greeting by the door with a long kiss and an even longer hug at the end of a long day.

But marriage didn’t always look this way.

Yes, we’ve had a good, good marriage—many might say a great marriage—but there were times our pride and immaturity made us stumble hard along the way. 

Sometimes marriage looked like icy glares and refusal to talk to one another for days on end.

Sometimes marriage looked like rolling to opposite corners of the bed and making darn sure our feet or hands didn’t brush up throughout the night.

Sometimes marriage looked like a game of, “It’s not fairyou got to do this and I had to do that!”

Sometimes marriage looked like jealousy and dissatisfaction because he was free to leave the house early and go on his way while I was tethered to the kitchen, the crying, the mess, and many days with little ones, feeling like the walls were silently closing in.

Sometimes marriage looked like crying myself to sleep after our heads finally hit our pillows because he would be flat-out exhausted and fall soundly before my worries and fears could form into words. 

Sometimes marriage looked like exasperation and him saying, “Travel is not nearly as glamorous as you think,” and me hearing his words ring true after attempting to return home from a fun-filled, restful girls’ weekend in a blizzard that forced me to stay put and not be able to hug our babies for four additional, long, torturous days.

After that said trip, marriage looked like my husband declaring to anyone who would listen, “My wife has the hardest job in the world!” and me feeling a newfound level of recognition and appreciation that put wind in my sails on the hardest days. 

Marriage began to look like an assortment of compromises, of making a pact that we would have every important conversation on the couch and never in bed because he loved me and wanted to not fall asleep too soon and to hear everything on my heart. 

One significant time, marriage looked like me having a profound epiphany realizing I can give my capable, generous, selfless husband, who was once a little boy himself and was still that same little boy inside, the same tender, loving grace I give my children. It looked like me realizing that, no, I am not his mother, but, yes, I can nurture him, root for him, and take care of him in a multitude of similar ways.

This started looking like his walls coming down and my respect and adoration going up. This started looking like a mutual deep sigh of relief and knowing with our whole beings we have been each other’s safe place all along.

Marriage looks like cherishing one another and never taking one single minute for granted. 

Marriage is a sacred union, a covenant authored by God and established by two starry-eyed souls, a day-by-day recommitment, and a classroom for learninga place where immeasurable growth and joy can take place for two people wholeheartedly dedicated to God and to the health and wellbeing of the other. 

Marriage can look like proudly standing on top of a mountain close to the warm sun. Or, in some seasons, like climbing a vertical, steep rock face without a rope or proper equipment.

Hang on with all your strength, dear wives and moms, and keep striving and reachingone kind word, one act of service, and one prayer at a time.

Can I tell you a secret? The absolute best is yet to come.

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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Debbie Prather

Debbie Prather is a Christ-follower and freelance writer. She and her husband are celebrating thirty years of marriage in February 2020. Debbie is a bible study leader and community volunteer and loves to connect heart-to-heart with those God places in front of her. She shares her reflections on faith, grief, adoption, parenting, marriage, and injustice at https://742iloveyou.com/.