14 Years After “I Do”: How Marriage Has Grown Me
He has been with me through it all. For almost a decade and a half, we’ve been side by side— sometimes seeing eye to eye, many times worlds apart— doing this thing called Life together. It has been fourteen years of hard conversations and challenges, growth opportunities and grief, unmet expectations and pleasant surprises, beauty and wonder all mixed up together.
I look back on our wedding pictures and I think “What were we doing getting MARRIED?!? We were just babies! We had no idea what were getting ourselves into.”
We were barely 23 years old, idealistic and ignorant. I’m pretty sure we genuinely thought we were wise and knowledgeable about how the world worked. We had heard marriage was a risky journey that had the potential to be pretty challenging… but we supposed we were as ready as we’d ever be for the challenge
Little did we know that life throws unexpected curveballs all the time. Little did we know that things rarely go as we might have hoped or imagined. Little did we know that the next dozen plus years would be filled with a host of unforeseen challenges, hurts, misunderstandings, and tests of courage.
I had only a sliver of insight as to what marriage was really like and how much effort was truly needed to make a “good marriage”… yet God in His providence somehow helped me pick a genuinely good man who loved God and had a history of making decisions with integrity. My guy, as imperfect (like me!) as he may be, is a hard worker, a fierce protector, full of honesty, authenticity and loyalty. He regularly gifts me with encouraging, affirming words, and he isn’t too proud to say he’s sorry or to cry with me.
We have had our trials, let me tell you! We have had our raging arguments, our “I’m not going to snuggle your feet under the covers as we fall asleep next to each other because I’m so pissed at you” times, our seasons of acting like immature toddlers because neither of us typically handles interpersonal stress on the homefront very well. We have said and done hurtful things to one another. We have endured spiritual crises, major career changes, and geographical relocations together. We have plodded through unemployment and severe financial shortage. We have faced the daunting challenge of parenthood together. We have lost an unborn baby together. We have walked through a foreclosure, health challenges, Depression, and anxiety. We have stayed up late innumerable nights hashing out our disagreements and trying to figure out how to realistically love each other even when we are fuming, confused, or hurt.
I look back at those wedding photos and realize how much we’ve both changed since that day. I have grown more independent, less dogmatic, and more passionate about the importance of community. He has grown more thick-skinned, less tolerant of injustice, and more passionate about what he can do to make the world a safer place. We’ve misunderstood one another, misjudged one another, and come back to one another in repentance and humility countless times. We’ve both learned more about ourselves and our dreams. We’ve both grown more courageous in many ways.
Somehow, despite all the drama, we have clawed our way out of the various dark places and remained wholeheartedly committed to one another and to doing whatever we need to do to make this relationship work. The battles between “I do” and now have been no fun— I don’t wish to repeat a single one of them. Yet the lessons I have learned through it all have been priceless.
And now here we are, fourteen years later: more honest with each other, braver with one another, more committed to each other, and leaps and bounds more in love with each other than we were that day we said “I do” at the altar in front of our loved ones.
It has been a rough, winding, and sometimes confusing journey. But I am so grateful for all I’ve learned as a result of being in a relationship with this wonderful, complicated, aggravating, fantastic man of mine.
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What about you?
In what ways have you been surprised— both pleasantly and not-so-pleasantly— by adulthood and/or marriage?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.