He was tall, dark, and handsome and I was just dreaming to think he might talk to me. Besides, that’s not why I went to that Christian retreat, right? Whatever. That’s why we all went. Still, he was such a cutie and I simply admired him from a distance.

Until…our jump shots crossed on the basketball court during a pick-up game (pardon the pun) during free time. I tried to focus on passing the ball and shooting instead of his legs, but it was tough. God was with me that day, guiding every shot through the hoop. I clearly had his attention and was struggling not to melt into the floor when he smiled at me between plays.

After the game, one of us struck up a conversation that carried on through the rest of the evening over Sprites and a game of Jinga. By the next day, after he wowed me with his turkey calling at the variety show, we had exchanged numbers and addresses promising to stay in touch. Then that handsome young man sealed the deal with a kiss on my cheek, letting me know that he was definitely interested in more than my basketball skills.

Infatuation. That was the first leg of our journey and how sweet it was. We lived in a perfect bubble of mesmerizing glances, hand holding, and letters back and forth (hand-written on real paper requiring postage) proclaiming our affection. Visits on weekends were too short along with the long distance phone calls (it cost money back then). He was fabulously perfect.

Fast forward through one break up, a beautiful reunion, five months of dating, one year of engagement (not recommended) and we were finally united in holy matrimony. At last.

Honeymoon stage. Being married was a dream come true for a while. Endless hours available to spend together. No more long good-byes, letters, or phone calls. Bliss was upon us and we probably walked around glowing. We set up house and became a family, talked about our dreams, did whatever we wanted with our free time, and snuggled in the middle of our full-size bed until I drifted off to sleep every night. Be still my beating heart.

marriage

Reality set in sometime during that first year when I realized that my husband loved to hunt. Every. Day. My true colors begin to show too when my childhood baggage found its way into my expectations of my poor husband. We discovered annoying habits that were camouflaged during the infatuation of dating and the honeymoon stage of our marriage. He snored and left the seat up. I was emotional and needy. We needed help.

Work was necessary to get through our mess. We learned to communicate a little better and spent time defining our expectations of roles. It was during this stage that our first child was born, giving us reason to meld together as a team even more. Parenting revealed even more of our baggage. We both made a choice to make our marriage work, to raise our family in a loving home. Left alone to our own selfish desires, quitting would have been the easiest thing. With each child (and there were many) we each learned to surrender more of “self” and instead lift each other up in unity as our family grew.

Friendship is the beautiful stage that we are walking through now. We are outnumbered and must stick together as we parent half a dozen teenagers. Together we are  navigating middle-age issues and pursuing goals and dreams for our marriage as well as for us each as individuals. We know each other well. We’ve learned to steer clear of a lot of pitfalls that seek to drag us down. We trust each other and rely on each other in every way. We also still fight about some of the same stupid stuff. We still hurt each other’s feelings and make dumb choices at times. We just know that a path of strong friendship runs through it all and we find our way back to that path a lot faster than we used to.

We feel old some days, and we have started thinking about what life will look like when it’s just the two of us again. It won’t be that long and we hope we have enough energy to enjoy it. We have learned to fight for us; for time together to talk, play, and dream. We are not doing any of it perfectly but most days we are purposefully pursuing connection. It won’t happen on its own.

No matter what stage of marriage, love is all about choices.  We choose to create time for each other. We choose to encourage, to serve, to communicate honestly, to trust, to persevere, to be friends. Love is not a feeling and if our marriage had been based on feelings, we would have quit. I am blessed beyond measure to still be on this journey with my husband Trent. We try not to look back and regret all of our mistakes or focus on our failures. Our journey has been one of love and pain and we will continue moving forward together.

I love you Trent!

 

 

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