Most girls dream about the fairy tale. You meet your prince charming, fall in love, have a huge wedding, and live happily ever after, right? I had wanted those things since I was just a little girl, and I also wanted lots of babies. When teachers asked my classmates and I what we wanted to be when we grow up, I always said a mom. My friends said doctor, lawyer, nurse, veterinarian, etc. Those things were nice, but I wanted to be a mom.
I met Todd when I was 15 years old through a mutual friend. We went out a time or two, but my parents were not too keen on the idea that I was 15, and he was about to turn 20, so it fizzled out, and we both went on with life. God brought him back into my life when I was 19 and the rest is history. We dated for just 5 months before he put a ring on my finger, and a year later, I had my fairytale wedding. Life had begun for me and I was so happy.
We celebrate 22 years this month, and these are a few things I have learned about marriage along the way:
1) Things will not always be sunshine and roses! I think it took just a day or two on our honeymoon, no less, for the first fight to ensue. I can’t even remember what it was about, but I’m sure it was over something stupid and trivial; just like most fights are. I have learned to let the trivial things go. You are joining two separate people with two different personalities. You will not like the same things, feel the same ways about things, or agree on everything. Storms will come to your marriage. Life can be hard sometimes, and you cannot control that, but you can control the way you handle it.
2) When you go through storms together, you can let it bring you closer or break you apart. We were married only 10 months when we faced our first storm; the loss of our first child. Carlie was due in June right after our 1 year anniversary, but at just 7 months pregnant, I started to hemorrhage and was rushed to the hospital. As they were preparing me for an emergency C section, we lost her, and we were faced with the labor and delivery of a child that would be born sleeping. There was a funeral to plan and an empty nursery to face when we got home. We did not grieve the same, but we drew closer to each other, and more importantly to God, during that time. We were still very young in our marriage, and it was a hard time, but I learned that I can count on my husband when I am at my lowest to be there for me, and we let the storm (the first of many) to draw us closer, when it could have easily went the other way. That would serve me well when we lost our third child in the same way and had to do it all over again just 2 years later.
3) The happy times are what keep you going! The birth of Wade, Aaron, and Jacob were some of the happiest of our lives. Also, adopting Alaina and Sydney and making them part of our family! (We continue to welcome more through fostering and/or adopting) When the whole world around us is crashing, we can be secure in the knowledge that we have each other to share the joys of life.
4) Don’t sweat the small stuff. In the long run most of the things you argue about really mean nothing in the long run. If it won’t matter in 5 years, or even next week, let it go (sorry, I had to, I hear the song a million times a week, thanks to my girls).
5) Be each other’s #1 cheerleader. Building your spouse up and not tearing them down means a lot to the other person.
6) Take time for a date, sometimes with 6 kids, which means just riding to the store alone for us. As we have added more children, getting a babysitter or big brother who is free to help gets tougher, but that alone time and remembering the “US” we were before kids can mean a lot.
7) Keep dreaming together. When we got married we had dreams. Some of those have changed, but we find it important to keep dreaming and planning for the future and things we want to do individually and together.
8) A successful marriage should involve 3…you, your spouse and GOD at the center. We had a saying on our wedding program that said “A cord of three strands can’t quickly be torn apart”
So, these are my thoughts today on my 22nd Wedding anniversary. Does this mean our marriage is perfect? HECK NO! lol We have our days, just like everyone else, but I do know one thing for sure…I love him more today than I did 22 years ago!