Fifteen. This is the number of years our married life has spanned. We moved into our first house on our first anniversary. On our fourth anniversary, we were delightedly but anxiously expecting our second baby after miscarrying our first. On our eighth anniversary we were proud parents of two little girls, and you were fairly sure we were done having babies. On our tenth anniversary we had three kids. On our thirteenth anniversary we were settling into our brand new custom built dream home.
And here we are. Number fifteen.
I think it is safe to say that we didn’t really expect life to go the way it has. When we were engaged I had all these pictures in my mind of what it would be like for us to be married. I envisioned, very specifically, us eating breakfast together in the mornings – you spooning cereal out of an eggplant purple ceramic cereal bowl. I searched for months for those cereal bowls and never found them.
I pictured our journey toward parenthood as one very well thought-out and planned. I thought it would take us about 9 months or less to get pregnant and then we would be on our merry way into the world of choosing nursery furniture and crib bedding and tiny layettes. After two years of trying, we were delighted and then crushed to lose our first baby to miscarriage.
I pictured our first born, Reagan, being the ideal baby – the one everyone crooned over and just adored. And there was some of that. But there was also a lot of colic and we barely slogged through the first four months of her life. I say that without having any really solid memories of those first four months. I’m sure we made it because here we are and she is now 9 ½ years old. But I couldn’t name much about that time because it is all lost in a sleep-deprived battle-scarred haze of screaming baby.
I pictured staying home with our kids as being a time when I would lose myself. I was terrified that I would sort of lose it and stay in my pajamas around the clock. I worried that I would become this catatonic housekeeper/cook/babysitter who never wore makeup or curled her hair. Turns out staying home is awesome and I love it and I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. Sometimes the vision is a negative one and we can be happily surprised by the good that lies ahead of us.
I know you pictured two kids, but you got three. Here we are with our three little people and every time I look at Hunter I tease you about “not wanting him”. Of course you did want him, but I know I pushed you into it. You’ve similarly pushed me in ways I didn’t want to go but that turned out to be the best decision for us.
The key is to not get stuck in the vision, but to stick with each other as the vision changes.
This spring you went on your longest work trip ever – 10 days to Europe. I stayed home and held down the fort and you checked in regularly. I learned the obvious lessons – like how much I rely on you to do the everyday chores around the house or how much I look forward to that 5:30 p.m. on the clock when you are scheduled to arrive home each day. But I’m also an over-worrier so I spent time picturing what would happen to me if you didn’t come home. And it struck me the other day as I was thinking about those morbid musings, that I never in all our days of marriage have considered the possibility of you not coming home because you had given up on me. I’ve always known, in the depth of my being, that you would never leave me in any way other than death. At the very core of your heart, you are faithfulness personified.
I’m not always an easy person to love. I am a woman of high emotions which can mean I am either a great deal of fun or I am a large headache. This is the part where others would say “Thanks for balancing me out, honey. For being my rock when I’m losing it.” So that’s not us either. We’re both prone to the highs and lows and that has made our marriage exciting and very challenging.
Fifteen years ago when people told us that marriage was work, I nodded my head in solemn and completely ignorant agreement. Yes, we will work hard to maintain the yard, to earn an income, to keep the house orderly, and to rear the children. Yes, indeed, we are in this to WORK! Obviously, that wasn’t the kind of work to which those kind souls were referring.
We have worked every single day of fifteen years to stay together. That is humbling to admit. We fight to communicate well, but we don’t give up. We fight to understand each other when we are so very different, but we don’t give up. We fight to parent our children in the best way we can, but we don’t give up. We fight to make the best decision for our family, but we don’t give up. It’s oddly empowering to look back and see how much we have disagreed but persisted until we could somehow compromise or meet in the middle or at least agree to disagree.
For fifteen years, we have fought to stay together even as the vision changed – sometimes daily. My vision of the perfect married couple who have quiet discussions is something I should probably let go of. Because this is who we are – the people who work to stay together.
Don’t get me wrong - most of the time things are good. Most of the time we are a great team. But sometimes…sometimes it is work. It hasn’t always been easy. But the work has been good. The work has been marked by faithfulness. The work is tested tenacity and resilience. The work is walking by faith even when we cannot see.
I’m glad you’ve been there by my side through it all. I’m glad that I’ve never had to question your dedication and your promise to stay with me. I’m glad I have you to walk next to even when we feel blindsided by a clouded vision. I’m glad you won’t give up on me and that I can say with confidence that I won’t give up on you, on us, either.
I have loved being yours for fifteen years. And it is with a quiet sense of peace and joy that I look forward to as many tomorrows and vision changes as we are blessed with. I love you.