We started this thing as kids. We were half-children guessing at adulthood. He had a paycheck and I had a diploma and together we were going to take the world – our chunk of it anyway.
Everybody has their struggle story. Ours included being torn apart for a year and a quarter while we both grew up. We battled our demons and tried our best to connect breaking spirits over 7,000 miles and the “bad times” we vowed to stick through started there.
So yeah, this hasn’t been easy. And within the first few years we questioned things. Our “honeymoon phase” ended abruptly with marching orders and by the end of our first year he was getting ready to leave for an endless war – training past weekends and coming home worn with red dirt dying his skin. We had no idea how to brace ourselves and the night he left I broke. I can still see his hand in the window of that giant silver bus as it drove my heart away, leaving diesel smoke and crying families behind it. He left with the rest of the boys-turning-men.
It took him 5 years to start to come back home to me.
And threats to us weren’t superficial – as a young bride I worried over the magazine covers and the pretty girls, but I didn’t marry a frivolous man, I married an idealist. So the things that stole his heart were abstract concepts. He wanted the world to change and I lost him to his own integrity. First I missed him and then I let myself stop caring.
So we aren’t one of those couples who will tell you that we don’t “get” why people get divorced. We get it. We’ve been there. We’ve felt the pain and pull of growing apart, the apathy that comes with the walls you build to protect your broken heart. We’ve held this thing over the edge and dared the other to let go. We’ve hurt each other and said things we’ll never be able to forget. We’ve been selfish and cruel to each other.
But also? We have fought for this. This is ours. Blood, sweat, and tears have been stirred into the mortar here and we are under no pretenses: we have a choice to keep building or to walk away. Everyday. We aren’t bound by anything but our resolve – our stubbornness to keep a promise and our trust in Jesus to give us glue when we run out. To remake us more stubborn than our bitterness.
And what comes with that is magic…. I don’t wish for honeymoon days like I did when things were crumbling, I don’t want for the things young couples have. Because this one is ours and this is sacred. We have killed ourselves for this and we are killing ourselves daily – learning to be more concerned for each other, less concerned for our own skin. We are dying not just to keep this thing together, but to make it good, make it worth the space it’s taking up.
So our reward is something deeper, something purer, something tried and true. We’re coming back to each other now and it is glorious; we are rediscovering things that we forgot we lost, we’re seeing one another show up in ways that take our breathes away.
And we’re learning that hurting each other comes with the vows, comes with the rings and the wedding rice. But forgiving? Healing? Choosing hope and doing the dirty work of reconciling? That comes from us – from being held by Love that works through us. That we can claim, we can turn over in our hands like jewels, we can clutch these things precious and see this thing’s beauty like nobody else can. Like the mother who suffered labor or an adoption process looks at her child and her heart beats heavier, finds the most trivial things the most lovely.
So nine years in? Yeah… I’m glad I married him. I’m glad he chose me and I chose him and we keep choosing each other. Nine years in? This is ours and it’s so much more than those kids could have dreamed it would be.