Something personal on the blog today. We’ve been married 21 years today. Got married in the middle of law school. Toni was in my class. I spied her across the room long before she even knew I existed.
The first time we talked I thought “I think I want to marry that girl.” I’m so glad she said yes.
This morning was the first time in 21 years of marriage both of us forgot it was our anniversary. I was driving our son Sam to school and between dropping my car off in the shop for brake work, figuring out how track practice and football practice were going to work out tonight, working through my meetings and my task list as I drove in and realizing Toni was going to be on call tonight at the hospital tonight, I remembered it was our anniversary. I called her and we both laughed that we forgot. That’s a good marriage. (Don’t worry, a dinner out is planned when our schedules are more normal next week.)
I wish I was one of those pastors who could say in 21 years we never had a fight about money or the future or each other. But that just isn’t true. We’ve disagreed on many things. Sometimes we’ve created new categories of things to argue about (we’re both lawyers by training). She’s seen the worst of me and I’ve seen the worst of her. And in the process she’s seen the best of me and I’ve seen the best of her.
I used to think a great marriage was people who got along so well that they never argued. That may be true for a handful of people, and if so, I’m cheering for them. It just hasn’t been our story. There are moments where we both knew that we either needed to turn to Christ at a much deeper level or we would simply have to throw in the towel. We both loved Jesus enough to keep moving through it. Sometimes we just didn’t know what else to do except to keep going. So we kept going.
In the process of moving through some deep and elongated valleys, though, we discovered that on the other side our friendship got richer. Our commitment to each other and to Christ grew. Our love found a depth and resonance that neither of us actually new existed. Despite the hardship, we’re having more fun than we’ve ever had before.
Maybe the reason this is both difficult and rewarding is because the covenant of marriage reflects the covenant relationship we have with God. God won’t quit on us…because he knows despite the ups and the downs the relationship is worth it and holds so much promise. The same is true I think when two people decide to share a life together.
After 21 years it hasn’t been a perfect story, but it’s been a deeply rewarding story. If there is one piece of advice I have for people who are married, it’s simply this: don’t quit. Keep going. Keep digging. Keep drilling down into the depths of your faith. Keep looking for the best in the other person and be honest with yourself. Get help. And just don’t give up.
On the other side there is a richness that nothing and no one could prepare you for. We still have good days and bad days. But we’re discovering the power of a Christ-centered commitment layer by layer. And it’s gold.
Thanks for saying yes, my bride. I love you more than you could know. Inside you is a treasure no one will ever be able to exhaust.
Who else is celebrating an anniversary? What’s helped you as you sought out a relationship that lasts a life time?