Everything Your Marriage Needs to Survive in a World of Broken Hearts and Divorce

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Today my husband and I are celebrating thirteen years of marriage.  

I remember when we had been married two years and older couples would look at us with this look in their eyes and say, "Aww, just newlyweds," while I would stare back, totally annoyed, thinking we were pro's at marriage.  We'd just been married TWO years!  Now I get it.

As we march pass the threshold of thirteen, I find myself so opposite of those early days, eager to know what those same married couples could tell us now.  What advice and wisdom those married for twenty and thirty and forty years could lay upon our hearts....  I feel like we've learned a lifetime of love in just thirteen years and can only imagine what lies ahead. 

I think of our four-year-old's view of marriage: a fairytale of love

...but, oh how her version is missing so much substance.  

In her dreams, man and woman fall blissfully head over heels for another; she is smitten and whisked off her feet by her new Prince Charming, while he thinks of nothing but her beautiful smile and contagious laugh throughout his busy days and can't wait until he can see her again.  One day he proposes, they marry and as all the storybooks we read to our daughters say, they "live happily ever after."  

But that is all wrong, my sweet four-year old.  The truth is, this is a myth so many hearts have been tricked to believe.

To the young lovers out there: 

Where you stand is full of discovery and mimics the heart-bursting, swooning kind of days of dating that fairytales really are made of.  But believing the lie that that your love with always be a fairy tale kind of love is destructive.  

The truth is, it's the longevity of marriage where the deepest of love blossoms.

The dating and newlywed years are mere seeds planted to bloom this beautiful thing.  It is in the midst of those first few years where you go from "happily ever after" to a roller coaster ride of tumultuous months with mere cracks of beautiful moments, dark filled storm clouds that last for days to the most radiant sunshine you have ever seen.  

In those first years of marriage, especially when you marry young at 23, waves of distance spread your love thin at times, but then you are reigned back in to holding each other affectionately and never imagining your life with anyone else.  There are heated fights met with endless love.

Some moments outweighing the good for longer periods of time than you would have ever dared show the world.  

Every moment of your marriage is an opportunity to display your commitment to the star-crossed lover words of "I Do." Words are one thing, living out those words in actions in a whole new mission.

On your wedding day, these words seamlessly flow from your heart and while you understand the meaning, only time can put that meaning to the test, truly engraining within you what "I Do" stands for.  

Over time, your marriage will be embattled against financial woes, family matters, career changes, new homes, devastating losses, new and old friendships, and my favorite--babies--and if you have had a baby and are married--you know what that first year can do to a marriage.  

Every success and every failure of being newlyweds leads us to learn more and more deeply about what our wedding vows really meant.  It is here where our dedication, determination, perseverance, and commitment to our promises is put on display.  

This is why celebrating our marriage every year is so important: through the tears, through the joy, through the laughter, through the adventures, through the trials:

your marriage has survived.  

Do not buy the myth that a good marriage is an easy marriage, but also do not be discouraged by the truth of what marriage is. 

Because marriage actually can be a fairytale for anyone who tries.  

But there is only one way to achieve that fairytale marriage and it's to 

T R Y. 

Trying to keep your marriage alive and strong takes putting yourself aside.

It takes many "I'm sorry's" and "I'll try harder next time."  

It takes self-sacrifice of your own time and of your own needs to recognize someone else's.  

It takes working as a team--doing life together.  

It takes accepting imperfection in all shapes and forms.

It takes daily communication to see each other's heart.

It takes helping them when you see they are worn down.

It is about expecting less and giving more. 

It takes unconditional forgiveness of one's wrong's and extending grace even when you don't want to. 

It takes communication and taking the time to learn to love even the things you dislike about your spouse.

It takes real. hard. every day. every night. work.  

And that's what the storybooks don't teach:

the work and commitment to make it to each year's anniversary is what makes the anniversary happen.  

So today we aren't celebrating thirteen years of marriage to say it's been perfect.  

We are celebrating it to say it's been real.  

It's been full of life's lessons.  

It's been a roller coaster and the ride of our lives.  

But 'How' you ask?

How can you love in the anger?  How can you forgive in the hurt?  How can you trust in the unknown? 

You place Jesus Christ at the center. 

Where our marriage is today is no where near where it was 13 years ago.  

We are not the same people that we were on March 19, 2005.  Our spiritual growth, with God at the center, has changed us at the very core.  When both husband and wife are wholeheartedly living for the Lord, the heart changes in inexplicable ways.  Ways that one's flesh cannot do on its own.

Because of the Lord, we love sweeter, we give more deeply, we sacrifice fully, we face our challenges together and when we disagree, we try harder to see the other person's perspective.  We communicate wholly and we've learned what drives each other.  We have our "moments" but our love always supersedes.

I love this man infinitely more than I ever did thirteen years ago and I will love him infinitely more than I could ever imagine in twenty more.  When we were dating at 20 years old, we hadn't lived through real trials together, but at 36 and 37, we have.  And we sustained.

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."  
Ecclesiastes  4:9-12

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  1. Congratulations :)

  2. Wonderful to have 13 years behind you - but oh so much Wisdom. Marriage is a wonderful thing and so personal. May you find more gems as time passes.

  3. So true, Meagan! It's my first time to your blog and found you through Deb's FB group. I love your attitude and hope you persevere in love and marriage through every trial that, like you've said, God uses to make your love stronger and sweeter!

  4. Great wisdom! Thank you for sharing :)

  5. Congrats to you both on your 13th anniversary! My 18th anniversary is coming up this month... wow what a ride. I love your refreshing post on the realities of marriage. My husband and I have been through so much and honestly my love now is very different from the love we shared over 20 years ago. This is a love that's been proved by fire and trials. One that can be relied and will stand the test of time. A mature love that has deep markings and scars that belong just to us. But it's beautiful and it's ours! Great post!