Fifteen years in…

My husband and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary this June.  It’s mind-boggling to realize we’ve been together this long – plus the 15 months before we got married.

Our marriage, like all the others, has its good and its bad.  The first five or six years was a struggle.  I worked at home raising two preschoolers, he was just a workaholic (still is, to my chagrin) that did a lot of traveling.

Once we hit year eight, we really hit our stride.  I think if a lot of newlyweds would just hang on through those first five to seven years, they’d really have a chance.  So many divorces happen in those first few years and, for us, that’s when it was the worst and had we not been as strong and committed as we are – we’d have been another statistic.

Through all the happiness, sadness, anger and joy – my other half has always been the best thing for me.  He’s the perfect enabler for all of my “addictions” and flights of fancy.  We share just about all the same interests and views – we make the perfect team.

Never has he stopped me from pursuing an idea – he’d do what he had to in order for it to happen.  He’s such a hard worker and carries the majority of the family burdens on his shoulders so the rest of us don’t have to worry about it.  He makes sure we all have what we need before himself.

I have three true loves: him, my daughter, and my son.  He was my true love first – and that will always be. 🙂

I have some pretty strong views about marriage and families.

1. Marriage is a tricycle.  You have to have Jesus as the third-wheel in your marriage – he’s the big wheel in the front that we’re following forever.  We were weak in our faith early on in our marriage.  We infrequently went to church – sometimes it’s hard when you have two little ones.

Looking back, I wonder what a difference it would have made had our faith been strong like it is today.  Sure, those problems would have still been there, but would we have dealt with them differently?

We not only attend church as a family, I am the Christian Education Director and my husband holds a governing position within the church, not to mention a board position at a Christian summer camp – we’re IMMERSED and so are the kids.  Our church family is an extension of the four of us.  It’s engrained into our DNA at this point. To not have Jesus and God at the center of our lives would just be weird.

I truly believe if we faced tragedy in our lives, we would be able to continue on because of our strong faith and our strong faith family around us.  It breaks my heart when couples cannot come back from devastation.

2. You cannot put your children before your husband.

Sounds mean, but it’s not.  Think about it.

Those of you with kids, think back to the time before kids.  It’s not as hard as you think. 😉  You were free, you were dangerous, you were who you were THEN.  Who are you NOW?  Not the same person, I’m betting.

Even now, TODAY, we continue to grow and change.  Our tastes change, our habits change.  It’s so slow we don’t notice it until we look back.

If you abandon the friendship and partnership you have with your spouse in the name of your children, you’re missing out.  Once the kids are grown and scamper off into their own lives, what will you return to?

It’s so important for me to remain the faithful teammate and continue to grow together.  So, when our kids finally go off on their own, we can face the next day just like all the days before…TOGETHER!

3. Marriage is not 50/50; it is 100/100.  I got that from the Marriage page on Facebook.

It’s true.

Both of us cannot be in this with only half of ourselves and half of the willingness.  We have to be in this marriage 100%.

Our kids are always telling us, “Will you stop fighting?!?”  And every time, I explain to them that we don’t fight, we passionately disagree.  I’m not trying to be cheeky, I’m being honest.  Since we hit that eight year mark in our marriage, fights disappeared.  Sure, it happens once in a long while – we’re human!

Disagreements do happen and they get loud, but I think when something is important and you’re passionate about it – let it out!!  My husband and I are not afraid to let what is bothering us out, and that is healthy.  There’s no resentment, no childishness, and very rarely are feelings hurt because someone said something to be mean.

I pray my kids learn to understand the difference between fighting and working something out.  It can both be loud, but only one of those strengthens you moving forward.

4. Dating doesn’t stop once you’re married!  You don’t have to court your spouse, spend a lot of money (you don’t have to spend it at all!), or even leave your house to have a regular date together.

We’ve been fortunate enough to have family very close to us since we’ve been married.  We were married less than two years before we had our first child and ever since she was very young, she would spend a night with my parents every week.  They loved it and we truly appreciated the break.

I don’t think we really started calling our free Friday night “date night” until the kids were in preschool.  Prior to that it was just an opportunity to sleep in on Saturday morning!  But, we were able to connect – talk, go to a movie, just have some uninterrupted time together.

Life is busy and if you MAKE the time, there’s no excuse for not having that time to unwind and reconnect with one another.  My husband works a long week; he commutes, and with the nature of his profession, he can be stuck at work for hours after he’s “off the clock.”  The kids are now 13 and 11, so I’m busy with my own things with them and with my own job.  If I could draw what a typical week in this house looked like, it would probably resemble a massacre.

Put away your daytime life, send the kids to grandma’s or a friend’s or just send them to bed and spend some time together!  Play cards, find a movie, have a nice meal, go bowling – anything.  It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture – you already won each other over, get to the good stuff already!

5. Surround yourself around other couples/families.  We all have those fringe single friends.  Keep them, but don’t make them your outside influence.  Singles who have eluded marriage or singles who have been soured by marriage can’t relate and you can’t allow them to influence choices for your marriage.

Another key to our “year eight turning point” was we started finding couples to spend time with.  Prior to that it was “his friends” and “her friends.”  Couples NEED other couples.

For the past four and a half years, we have managed to forge some serious friendships – all from our church, which helps.  These people are so important to us and are good examples to follow we can’t help but be happy in our own marriage.

We all have our ups and downs and other issues, but deep down, we all know how to rally one another and TRUST one another.  There is respect and honor with each of those friendships and it’s just as important as the respect and honor within a marriage.

6. Marriage is the hardest thing and yet it’s so simple.  Don’t make your marriage harder than it has to be.

Sweetie, I love you…more than my love for RUSH. ❤

Image Credit: Chuck Mamula Photography.  Tony Miske, photographer (RIP).


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