After 8 years of doing the work it requires, our marriage is better than ever. I think it mostly boils down to this: we’re the kind of people who keep showing up.
Contrary to our early age at union (two decades on the dot), neither one of us were very naive about doing life together. By the time we said our “I do’s” lakeside at Living Waters, we had known each other for nearly 8 years. We were well aware of our, at times, polarizing personalities. And more importantly, we were aware that we were living, growing, changing people: marriage must survive that.
We promptly experienced the stress early marriage nearly always ensures – no money, no time, no life. We ate on $40 a week. The only date we went on in our first year of marriage involved the dollar menu at McDonald’s or donuts at Dunkin’. We were in school full-time, working and worrying. We didn’t have television, partly by choice, partly by budget restrictions. And when we weren’t quizzing each other for exams after eating 45 cent pot pies from Wal-Mart, we were releasing our stress by snapping at each other.
It wasn’t all bad; we chuckle about it now. But it was very, very hard. And tiring. At times discouraging.
But part of the reason I knew Ryan and I would work is because he chooses to show up and calls me on it if I’m not doing the same. Even when we have the same fight for the umpteenth time, we both fight, knowing the hurt is still there, the pain still unresolved. Sometimes love and peace and joy are only found on the other side of fight.
I’m thankful for the ways we’ve pushed each other, for the ways we’ve grown as individuals and as a couple. We gave each other the support we both needed to up and move to the other side of the country. We’re a team as parents. We’re each other’s sounding boards for ideas. We’re best friends. No one is as honest with me as Ryan. (Well, my 2-year-old is working on it.) And no one is as reliable. I know he will ask until he gets the truth from me. I know he’ll push me to dream and to work for those dreams. I know we don’t just coexist; we’re truly doing life together, engaging on things that matter, adjusting to life circumstances and the day by day changes that occur inside living souls.
Sometimes it seems like we make things difficult for each other, and many times marriage isn’t easy. But when I think about the past 8 years, I can see that all things are being worked out, that as we keep engaging the kinks become blessings, the difficulties become our story – the story of us.