Friday, August 15, 2014

What My First 5 Years of Marriage Has Taught Me

Today Ben and I are celebrating our 5th anniversary. This is huge. This is a victory for us. Because in the past 5 years, we have:

  • Moved 5 times (2 apartments, a duplex, a house, and spent 4 months living with my mom)
  • Ben has switched jobs 4 times
  • I have switched jobs 3 times
  • Bought/sold 5 cars, plus an RV
  • Regularly attended 3 different churches, plus visited a few more
  • Had 2 babies
  • Had a miscarriage
  • Struggled with debt. Lots and lots of debt.
  • Gotten evicted
  • Conquered a porn addiction
  • Lost a parent
Not to mention the several trips to the emergency room, getting wisdom teeth pulled, gaining and losing pets, stomach flus and food poisoning, oral surgery for both our girls, lots of extended family drama, several trips to Minnesota and all the other little things that life has thrown our way. When I think of all we've been through my brain keeps going, "Seriously? Only 5 years?" I feel like we've been through a lifetime with each other already. 

Throughout everything that life has thrown at us, Ben has been my rock. We have faced every challenge as best friends. Hand in hand, side by side, growing deeper and deeper in love with each other all the time. Every struggle has only brought us closer together as a couple. Never once have I doubted our love or second guessed my decision to marry him. Every day of our marriage has been a blessing, through the good and through the bad I have constantly been thankful for our life together. 

Oh wait, no. That last paragraph was a lie. Because the truth is, I almost gave up on us. And by "almost", I mean searching online for jobs, apartments and daycares so I could take the girls and run. This life that we've had so far is anything but what I expected and definitely not what I thought I was signing up for when I said my marriage vows. Thankfully, God intervened and is restoring our broken marriage. 

Here's what I've learned from the mess that is our lives:
  • Ben is not the love of my life. Jesus is.
  • Ben is not my best friend. Jesus is.
  • Ben is not my hero. Jesus is.
  • Ben is not my fairy tale ending. He is not my "happily ever after". Jesus is.
  • Ben does not have the power to read my mind, heal my hurt, or fill an empty void in my life. Jesus does.
Don't get me wrong. I married an incredible man. He loves me unconditionally. He would do anything in his power to make me happy. He never yells and rarely gets angry. He provides for us so I can stay home with our girls. He is an amazing dad. He pours every ounce of his time, money and energy into me and the girls. He makes me laugh. We dream together. We agree on every major issue so we don't have much to argue about. We share many of the same interests so we always have fun when we spend time together. He is sweet, sensitive to my needs and feelings and is so kind and good to me. I am beyond blessed to be married to him and so thankful that God didn't give up on us even after I did. God is teaching me to love unconditionally and selflessly, without expecting or needing anything in return. He is teaching me to respect and trust my husband. He is teaching me to forgive. Over. And over. And over again. He is healing the hurt that our marriage has brought so far. And He is restoring the love and joy that I had when Ben and I first got married. It has been a painful journey. But I honestly wouldn't trade any of it for the lessons that I've learned, the strength that I've gained and the love and grace that I've found in Jesus.

If there's one thing I hope to teach my girls before they are old enough to start looking for a husband, it's that Jesus is the only one who can give them everything their hearts need. I spent too long feeling like I married the wrong person and that Ben had let me down because I was trying to depend on him for things only Jesus can give. I had unrealistic expectations which he could not possibly live up to because he was never meant to fill Jesus' role in my life. Thankfully God brought me to my senses before I let my foolishness destroy a perfectly wonderful marriage. I'm glad God gave me an imperfect person to love. Because if I hadn't been seeking to learn to love my imperfect husband, I may never have had the opportunity to fall head over heels in love with Jesus, and find a fairy tale romance in the One my heart was designed to love and be loved by.

Dear Ben,

Thank you for your unconditional love, endless patience and total devotion to me. There is no one I'd rather do life with than you. According to Facebook (the ultimate guide to successful relationships, right?), "a perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other". We have a whole lifetime ahead of us full of craziness, stressful messes, challenges and struggles. A whole lifetime of imperfections and never giving up on each other. I can't wait to share it with you. I love you!

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