Today is our 40th Wedding Anniversary. We were married on September 6, 1975. I have been reflecting on the many anniversaries we have had over the years and how quickly time has passed, and how at the same time, it feels like forever. I have been thinking of all of the wedding anniversaries we have celebrated (or not) over the years.
I wish I could say that every year was filled with the bliss and hopefulness of our wedding day, but our marriage has been a marathon of sorts. I was talking with a colleague the other day and telling her that when people tell me they have had completely happy marriages, I just don’t relate to that.
When I look for anniversary cards, or birthday cards, I always look for some form of resonance deep within me. On our anniversary, there have been some years where I have felt so discouraged and frustrated, that it has been all I can do to find a somewhat civil, cordial card for my husband. Often the cards I ended up purchasing during these times pertained to challenges. Other years, the cards were filled with deep gratitude and appreciation.
Without question, the pervasive theme that has run through our marriage is love and enduring commitment to each other through sickness and health. This has stood through times of disappointment, discouragement, and heartache.
I remember times where I questioned whether staying in my relationship was worth the difficulties. But I knew that I would bring one common denominator to the next relationship – ME –
And so I began to view the difficulties in my relationship as opportunities for my own character formation. For whatever reason, God had placed us together– I knew the love I had for my husband, and I remembered my vows.
I began to attempt to see him, not as trying to make my life difficult, but as someone trying to live out his life in the best way he knew– that he was well intentioned, and did not desire to hurt me. I began to acknowledge the distortions I put onto my husband without even being aware of them, and how my attitudes and responses were unsafe and not conducive toward emotional intimacy and revelation.
And slowly, (not only because of me but because of his self-examination as well), our relationship has grown deeper, more vulnerable, more transparent, more grace filled, and more forgiving. I thank the good Lord for changing my heart, and allowing me to see my husband, in the way I saw him when we were dating – a kind hearted man, with a deep love for his family and for others, a man who loves to serve others, and who desires to bless others in whatever way he is able.
And I thank the Lord for the good years, the difficult years, the full years, the years of emptiness and despair, and I trust Him to bring us to the next level of intimacy.