Marriage is work. I knew this going in, but somehow, at 21, the work seemed, I don’t know… easier? Like maybe I’d do it for a few years, then figure it all out and spend the rest of my life sailing in calm waters? I really don’t know what I expected. It wasn’t this.
It wasn’t gritting my teeth and saying I’m sorry when I absolutely don’t wanna. It wasn’t putting my partner on a plane so that I could solo parent for weeks on end. It wasn’t adjusting my schedule, my wants, my life around somebody else.
And yet, here it is. Twenty years on, and no, I don’t have it figured out yet. I know a few things about us, but marriage in general? I have no one-size-fits-all formula beyond this truth: put God at the center, always. You take your eyes off of that and you’re sunk every time.
There’s no calm water here. Only a constant ripple of the kind of agitation that the Lord defines as iron sharpening iron. You left that glass by the sink? You couldn’t wash it? And… did I really just think that about the father of my children? How on earth did I get to be such a selfish jerk, anyhow?
This is the kind of self-discovery and sanctification that can only be accomplished with a deep, bone-wearying death of me. And him. Because we’re both here, day after day, showing up and doing the hard things that ultimately, somehow, end up being the best things.
Because that’s what real love is. Showing up. Doing the things that need to be done. Changing the oil in the van when you’d rather read a book, taking six kids to the grocery store so the other person can have forty minutes of quiet, saying “just go, I’ve got this,” when the call comes as you sit down to dinner and the aging parent needs assistance. Real love is constant, and unwavering, and not tossed around by the waves. And those waves? They are going to come.
I didn’t know how hard this would be, but I didn’t know how much I could love another human being, either. I didn’t know that I could look across a table and feel immense joy just knowing he was near, or hear his voice as he walked in the door and have my heart leap because he was home. So that work? It has its benefits… and then some.
Some day, one of us will be gone. Maybe it will be me first; selfishly, I hope it is. I can’t begin to wonder what it would be like to not have this man at my side. It turns out, I don’t want the freedom to plan my own days. I don’t want an empty sink, or the absence of doors shut too hard. What I want is exactly what I have: a partner perfectly suited to the work of living, laughing, and rejoicing in all God has placed before us.