This week we celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary.
I like to think of our marriage as an “arranged marriage”. God-arranged. That’s really the only way I can tell you how a girl going to school in Southern California hooked up with a guy who was living in Northern Florida. (No internet or dating sites were involved.) My marriage is all about that cliche “Opposites Attract”. In one corner you have renaissance man who can spin, knit, sew, bake, build houses, fix cars, and start a fire without matches. In the other corner you have the domestically challenged, absent-minded musician who takes great pleasure in reading copious amounts of books and then thinking about what she read and perhaps discussing some of the finer points. My shy, inhibited self was very attracted to his no-inhibitions, seize-life-by-the-horns style of living.
As all opposites do, we at first relished each others differences and tried to share in those things. I went on a lot of camping trips. Andy bought me a baby grand piano and spent many evenings listening to me play. I thought it was fun to try new things with my husband like letting him teach me how to knit a hat (one of the ugliest hats you’ve ever seen)(Andy’s was perfect) and Andy indulged me by taking me to the bookstore regularly to update my pile of books I was reading. And then, slowly, the charm wore off and we had some hallelujah moments like, Look buddy, I’m not a sewer, I’ve never been a sewer, I don’t want to ever be a sewer- if you want hand-sewn curtains, do it yourself…And he suggested that maybe I should go to the library to find my books, and maybe I should put that book down and possibly help with the housework?
It’s called marriage. Two people learning how to stop putting themselves first and stop being so selfish and learning how to cooperate. Overall, we have managed to learn how to live with each other’s differences. I know better than to expect him to read anything besides Louis L’Amour or Clive Cussler and he doesn’t ask me to participate in handcrafts.
It’s been a good 19 years. Lots of laughter. Lots of shared smiles. Hand-holding. Snuggles on the couch. Shared “secret” icecream that we sneak into the kitchen to eat and hide quickly whenever we hear a child approaching. Leaning into each for comfort at the end of a really hard day. Just sitting quietly together, no need to talk, just being in the same space with each other. Making eye contact across a crowded room and sharing an amused smile. Silly texts.
This is not to say our marriage has been a bed of roses and smiling unicorns and rainbows and whatever other analogy you like. We have had many moments where we still love each other but don’t really like each other too much. We’ve had a couple moments where we’ve had to call our pastors and say, Hey we need an emergency marriage counseling session. But, we keep overcoming and moving on and falling deeper in love with each other.
When Andy first asked me to marry him he told me that he was committed to me. He was committed to our marriage and being the best husband that he could be. This has meant a lot over the years. We have found that the emotion of “love” comes and goes. Some days you wake up and you’re just not feeling it. Here’s the thing we’ve also learned though, love is a choice, not an emotion. We’re committed to this marriage and so we choose to love each other. The Bible says that love is patient, kind, long-suffering, never keeps track of wrongs, never gives up… So, we’ve made the choice to be patient and kind, long-suffering, not keep a list of wrongs, and we keep trying over and over again. Even when we are irritated or annoyed and we fail horribly, we apologize and then we keep trying. I would have to say that this quality of commitment is what I treasure most about my husband. I know that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep our marriage healthy.
Every morning this past week my husband has awoken me with a kiss and a whisper in my ear Happy Anniversary Eve Eve Eve Eve…Each day one of the “eves” disappear. And every morning I’ve been waking up with jolt of panic, Did he say happy anniversary? Did I miss it, did I forget? And then I smile when I register that he said “eve” and I haven’t missed it and he’s just being super-sweet and how did I get so blessed to be married to him? That is a mystery that’s right up there with the Bermuda Triangle, where do missing socks go, and why am I the only one who replaces the toilet paper roll?