Seventeen years. Seventeen. Years. I repeated the words slowly to myself today in Starbucks as I considered our anniversary (insert pithy comment about a typical male not being home on his anniversary here). Three thoughts come to mind when I ponder the last seventeen years with my wife: Boy have we grown up, has it ever been eventful, and boy am I grateful for the privilege to build one life together with my wife!
Our first year of marriage was nearly an unmitigated disaster. We were so convinced we knew how to communicate that we wouldn’t listen to the other speak. Now we have taught classes and mentored couples on effective communication techniques in marriage. We have seen marriages rescued by using these strategies.
We have grown in comfort with one another. In the first few years of marriage, there was a great deal of uncertainty and insecurity:
Does she really love me? Will he be drawn to her – she is skinnier than I am? What will he say if I make THAT purchase? Will she defend me THIS time against her family?
Now, we are mostly past those insecurities. We know each other. We are known by each other. Fully accepted. Fully loved. Moles, farts, body odor, and everything else are nothing compared to this love.
Over the last seventeen years, we have gone from wide-eyed twenty one year old babes, just trying to figure out the world, to now having the privilege of sharing what wisdom we have learned with our children and others.
I was working at a bookstore, and Barbara was decorating pies at Marie Callender’s. Now, I am a CPA/consultant/writer and Barbara is an RN. I was skinny, now I am comfortably filled out.
We were a family of three, with our oldest a toddler. Now we are a family of six, with our oldest a year outside high school graduation and our youngest in fifth grade.
I hope our next two decades years is just as eventful. One of the most wonderful things about being married to my wife is that she is always willing to jump into a new adventure. At times it is with a bit of trepidation, but she does it any way. I love that about her!
After seventeen wonderful years together, I finally start to understand what Paul spoke of in Ephesians 5 when he compared the relationship of Jesus and the church to a husband and wife. When Jesus looks as us, He sees only love. Moles, farts, body odor, and everything else are nothing compared to His love.
I had a brief text conversation with a friend today. I said Barbara and I have been married 17 years, and all of them have been happy. We exchanged LOLs, then lamented how few of our friends could say the same. So many joke they have been married “X” years, and “5 of those years were even happy”, or something like that.
I am grateful to God with every fiber of my being that I have the privilege of building a life together with my best friend, my strongest supporter, my lover.
I couldn’t raise our daughter wisely without Barbara. Her tenderness when my daughter’s autism creates confusion and an episode of anger is salve to my heart, and a constant reminder that kindness can kill anger.
I would be too quick to cut the cord on what I deem to be unhealthy friendships, rather than jumping into deep waters to find out what’s changed.
I would never risk as much as I have in the past six months, because some days I just don’t believe in me. But she always does.
What a blessing it is to be able to legitimately quote one of the cheesiest lines in cinematic history — Barbara, you complete me.