Friday, July 28, 2017

11 Years

Last year we celebrated our 10th Anniversary.  It was a milestone I was so excited to hit.  I remember having a conversation with Peter as we were reminiscing on our anniversary date.  We were discussing all the hard things we'd successfully overcome together in our marriage.We made a statement that with everything we had gone through in the previous 10 years that there probably was nothing that we couldn't overcome in our future years together. Maybe it was pride, maybe some arrogance, but I was completely oblivious to the bumpy road coming our way.

There is no more pride or arrogance left in my body. I find myself humbled to admit that it has been a tough year. Tears have been shed, angry words have been spoken. There were a few days I actually dreaded knowing my husband would be walking through the door soon. This was not what I had in mind when we married! I want to be careful to not overshare the journey we've been on, but to try to give a small glimpse of the restoration that has taken place in our lives. For the first time ever, I experienced days that the only thing keeping me going was remembering the sacred vows and commitment we promised to God and to 300 witnesses on our wedding day.  These were the days we had been given advice to prepare for but hoped would never come.  There were days I had to remind myself that to do anything but to continue to fight for our marriage would be defeat to satan and destruction of our family.

We're still a work in progress, but I can stand here today, 11 years into our marriage and say we have experienced restoration. Something we didn't even know we needed to experience 12 short months ago. Our biggest imperfections were revealed and through diligent and sometimes just plain hard work, we're being refined and healing has taken place. I think what helped us most was that BOTH of us had a strong desire to fight the battle and come out on the other side. It hasn't been a pretty year, in fact the feelings can still be a bit raw. But here's the thing, as we walk through on the other side of this refining process it's beautiful. This is so much better! This is authentic, this is intimate. This is honest and real.

1 Corinthians 13 is always a popular wedding day verse for the newlywed couple and when you have those stars in your eyes it's hard to imagine ever actually being in a tough place and needing to fight a battle for your marriage.  But I have spent more time reflecting on portions of this scripture this year than ever before.  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not self seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  These verses are pretty and fluffy and and cute to say, but man can they be tough to live in the heat of the battle.  If this was the true definition of love, we had some work to do.  One of the biggest things I can recommend when going through marital hard times is to focus on your individual relationships with God. Sometimes I had no idea where to turn when I looked at us, but I could always turn to God who had never let me down. I know we could have never made it through this year without both of us turning to God for help. He was able to repair and redeem our relationship in far quicker fashion than we ever could have done on our own.

Thankfully, through much work, our story didn't leave us in a dark place. We have continued to pursue "better" for our marriage. Our relationship is now blossoming as never before. We feel like newlyweds again!  In some ways our relationship is new as never before.  I once again look forward to the second my husband walks through the door every afternoon. I miss him when he is gone. I want to make sure we have found time to connect every single day. I highly respect the man he is. I know I can trust him to lead our family. He is a true man of God. I can share my feelings with him without fear of judgement. I feel safe with him.  I love him more than ever before.

Never again will I be so prideful to believe that our relationship is 100% bullet proof. We are on guard to protect our most valuable earthly relationship. I firmly believe that satan wants to destroy marriages thus destroying families. It will always take diligent work to keep our marriage strong. I have never been one who was willing settle for a mediocre marriage relationship.  I've always wanted to strive to make it better and better. A year ago, I thought our marriage was good and rock solid. By all appearances it was actually pretty good, but rock solid it was not.  We've worked really hard this year, we've forgiven over and over again, we've communicated and communicated some more, we've turned to God individually and as a couple.  With both of us committed fully to God and fully to one another I know we can't go wrong. Here's to another year!

To the love of my life on our 11th anniversary,

What a road we have walked. Thank you for always fighting for us and never giving up.  Thank you for committing to always do better and be better. Through our pain has come happiness and joy unlike anything we've ever experienced before. I know that as hard as the last year has been, we will look back on this year and realize its profound influence on the betterment of our marriage "til death do we part". I have always loved you, but my love has grown exponentially!  I will never forget how sacred that night on the beach in Jamaica was as we recited our new wedding vows to one another. Just us, the sea, God, and maybe some crabs along the rocks heard the words but it couldn't have been more perfect. Our marriage feels young and new and exciting, and yet, there's a maturity there of a couple who has weathered a few storms together that wasn't there in our early days.  I've loved the 11 years of marriage I have been your wife.  I go into this new year of marriage filled with hope.  My prayer is that we never stop pursuing each other and that we are blessed with immense amounts of joy.  You've already made me so happy and I love you today more than ever before!