In just a few days . . . four to be exact . . . my husband and I will celebrate 22 years together. Not 22 years married, but 22 years since the day he said, “So do you wanna . . . you know . . . be my girlfriend?” And I said, “Uh . . . yeah!”
Cheesy? Corny? Maybe even seems a little ridiculous???
I mean we’ve been married over 17 years. Is it really necessary to celebrate a dating anniversary after all these years?
And I’ll tell y’all there was probably a time I would’ve laughed and agreed that it’s a little bit much. But here’s the thing, I no longer think so.
If you’ve hung around for a minute or two, you’ve probably seen a couple posts on marriage and relationships. I don’t write a ton on marriage, but it’s something I’ve become incredibly passionate about over the past couple of years. As I’ve watched marriages of people I love fall apart . . . some ending in divorce . . . some staying together but becoming nothing more than glorified roommates . . . I’ve realized we’ve got to do better. We’ve got to stop looking at marriage as something to merely be survived.
And there are a lot of things that go into that.
First, God, your walk with Jesus, has to be first. Period. No ands, ifs, or buts . . . if I may be so cliche.
Second, your spouse has to be second. Second only to God. Yes, before kids. Absolutely, without a doubt, before kids. This is a huge pitfall for many marriages. We let our kids take a place and a space never meant for them. And not only is it detrimental to our marriages, it doesn’t give them a healthy view of marriage. But also, before work, or church, or ministry, or friends, or whatever else holds space in our hearts. Don’t let any of these things take the place meant for your spouse.
A good marriage takes intentionality and work and effort, but it’s definitely worth it.
So, we will celebrate 22 years of being together. I don’t necessarily mean something expensive or elaborate or over the top (I mean we probably would if we could but you know, Tuesday nights with kids . . .). But we will take the time, a moment or two, maybe a couple hours if we can swing it, to remember and acknowledge this day because that’s where all of “this” . . . our family, our lives, our mutual dreams . . . this life we’ve had the immense privilege of building with God leading us . . . started.
We celebrate because we’ve been through a whole heck of a lot together.
We grew up together.
We dated, long distance, for four long years during college.
We’ve been through major losses and heartbreaks and joys and seasons of growth together.
We’ve had huge fights . . . like huge because we’re both super strong willed. But we’ve also laughed and loved and cried together. No one can make me laugh like my husband does.
We’re best friends, but we’re so much more.
So yes, we celebrate the start of it all, and we will celebrate all God has done in our lives.
And that’s one of the key elements I think we often miss. We forget to remember and commemorate. We forget to celebrate (and again, I’m not saying it takes huge gestures and a ton of money . . . it’s about making an effort and acknowledging what you have). We forget to have fun together. We become business partners rather than life partners. We fail to make time for one another. We neglect to put each other before all the other things of this world. I’ve been guilty of it myself. I haven’t always been great or even good at keeping first things first. I’ve probably been downright neglectful of my marriage at times, if I’m being totally honest. But successful, thriving marriages don’t just happen. They aren’t a magical unicorn that some of us get lucky enough to find. And you don’t stay “in love” by chance. It takes work and effort. But it’s the most satisfying and rewarding work you’ll ever do.
So here’s to 22 years . . . and 22 after that . . . and 22 after that . . . it just keeps getting better . . .
Notes: (1) Y’all I am not over here trying to reinvent the wheel. I am NOT a marriage or relationship expert, but what I am is a life long learner. Along with really taking the time to study the Bible and what God says about marriage because He invented it, I’ve made a habit of availing myself to resources and teachers that are marriage experts. Marriage Today is, hands down, my favorite resource. Their books, teachers and teachings, articles, podcasts (The Naked Marriage and all of The XO Podcast Network), etc. offer a multitude of sound, biblical, marriage advice. So that’s where I learn, and I would be remiss to take credit because it’s not me. (2) My (always) caveat to these posts . . . if you are in an abusive (emotional or physical) marriage or relationship, you need to get help ASAP. You need to remove yourself from the situation and work with a licensed counselor/therapist to figure out next steps. If you are in a marriage where your spouse in unfaithful the same goes. If both spouses are willing to do the work, there is a path to reconciliation and redemption, but it starts with getting out of the situation and evaluating what’s happening from a healthy and safe distance. And sadly, sometimes, when a spouse is unrepentant and unwilling to truly change, you have to make the choice to walk away. My marriage posts are always starting from a place of two people, not perfect, but also not abusing one another (and yes, I believe, like it or not, cheating is a form of abuse).
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