I can recall talking with my best friend on the day of my wedding. We were at the reception afterwards and she commented on how I had looked at him.
“You just stared at him the whole time the vows were being read, and you could just see the love in your eyes for him,” she surmised.
Recently I came across my wedding album, and as I looked at the photos I found one that documented the love my friend had mentioned. In the photo I looked up longingly at my true love’s face, and you could indeed read my affections in my gaze. But I realized that a lot had changed since that day. A lot.
This weekend we suffered through a stomach virus. It was the third one our family had went through just this year, and if you’ve suffered through sickness of the projectile type with your spouse then you know where I’m coming from. So as I sat in the living room floor at 3 am scooping up regurgitated scrambled eggs I was reminded of the messiness that is real life. It’s nothing like the life you imagine when you stand on the altar staring into the deep brown eyes of the one you love. I probably should have listened more to the “in sickness and health part,” and thought about the gravity of it all.
In the almost eight years since we had wed many a problem had come to light. But beyond any kind of skeletons in the closet was simply the fact that it’s difficult living with another person. They leave hair in the sink, drop sugar all over the kitchen floor, and can’t read your mind even a little bit. And somewhere in the midst of more kids, less time alone, and the fact that life is just hard, you realize that your marriage is nothing like you imagined it to be. You can love them to pieces, but when they do something inconsiderate you realize you have to keep loving them. You can’t make them go home and give you some space. They’re home, and between the two of you, you have to work it out. You have to learn to say you’re sorry, even if it’s not all your fault. You have to learn to walk a mile in the other person’s emotions, and then walk the rest of the way out of the muck together.
In real marriage you can’t have date night whenever you want, people lose jobs, and bills are late. You have to take turns for alone time, and think about someone other than yourself. You have to do what the Bible says and realize the joy in serving those you love. It ain’t always easy to wash feet or be last, but you treat your marriage like Christ treats the church. I’m sure many of you at some time or another have seen an article circulating on social media from a 1950’s home economics book. While I’m glad times have changed in a lot of ways and that women have rights in today’s world, I also long for a time when more women could look at the list like I do. I do many of the things listed, not because I have to, but rather out of a service of love. My husband in turn serves me taking on much of the responsibilities at home and away from home too. We serve one another, and I don’t think I ever anticipated it would be like that. I thought it was about loving through thick and thin, but it turns out love is service, and serving is love.
I don’t love my husband like I did when we first got married. Our love has evolved. When I stood on the altar I saw my husband’s heart and I was filled with hope for the future. Now I look at him and I’ve seen his heart proven to me. Through good times and bad I’ve watched him never take his eyes off the truth of his commitment to me, and vice versa. The idea of a good marriage has transformed through the forging fires of life into a great marriage. It’s actually way better than I ever imagined.
We still have disagreements, and there are still idiosyncrasies I would prefer weren’t there. Haha. But beyond that is the deep love and commitment we share for our life together. I love my husband more now than I ever imagined I would.