Marriage is a long walk two people take together...The travelers do not know exactly where they are going, nor when they will arrive.
- Kathleen and Thomas Hart
A while ago, I remember reading a quote by Cameron Diaz who offered this commentary on marriage: "I think we have to make our own rules. I don't think we should live our lives in relationships based off old traditions that don't suit our world any longer." Ugh. Long sigh...However, on the flip side of celebrity advice, Julia Roberts offered up this quote from a friend on the Oprah show, in response to how she has (so far) managed to avoid the Hollywood curse on marriage: "If you want an interesting relationship, stay in one." Huh. Yes. You're right. In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas talks about this idea too, the idea of building a history together as a married couple.
Some experts suggest it takes from nine to fourteen years for a couple to truly 'create and form its being'. When I hear about couples who break up after just three or four years, I feel sad because they haven't even begun to experience what being married is really like. It's sort of like climbing halfway up a mountain but never getting to see the sights; you're in the middle of the task, your soul is consumed with the struggle, but it's much too soon to experience the full rewards. Evaluating your marriage so soon is like trying to eat a cake that's half-baked (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, p.107)."He then says, "One of the great dangers in breaking a marriage history is that we can't know the future (p.111)." Marriage is really difficult at times, but unless you stick it out, you will never know what's on the other side. There may be years and years of struggle only for a lightbulb moment to occur for one or both spouses and change the entire plotline of your marriage. You won't know unless you turn the next page.
Jerry Jenkins encourages couples to tell their marital story:
Tell it to your kids, your friends, your brothers and sisters, but especially to each other The more your story is implanted in your brain, the more it serves as a hedge against the myriad forces that seek to destroy your marriage. Make your story so familiar that it becomes part of the fabric of your being. It should become a legend that is shared through the generations as you grow a family tree that defies all odds and boasts of marriage after marriage of stability, strength, and longevity (quoted in Sacred Marriage, p.125).My marriage is a story and thinking about it as such changes my perspective. Every day - sometimes every hour or every minute or every split-second - another page is written. If Dave and I look back on our marriage so far, I know we can see a story being crafted. I love our story so far, not because it has always been rosy, but because it's interesting, it's always changing and growing, it demonstrates God's grace to us, it speaks volumes about God's involvement in our lives.
So what's our story? I'll tell you a little...most of it's too precious to share to the whole wide world.
Dave and I meet in 2000 during a Monopoly game. He doesn't remember me and I write in my journal that "Dave Spence is an idiot."
Meet again in 2001 and become buddies with no romantic feelings towards each other.
No romantic feelings towards each other quickly changes.
Date long distance for about 2 months
April, 2002 - Break up.
May, 2002 - Start talking again.
July - September, 2002 - Date
September 2002 - Break up
November 2002 - Start talking again.
December 2002 - Get engaged.
October 18, 2003 - get married.
Thus ensues 2 1/2 difficult, difficult years.
People pray for us.
We find mentors.
God changes our hearts.
We are a team. We are in love.
February, 2007 - We get pregnant and freak out that our marriage will die after listening to the doom and gloom from current parents.
November 2007 - Ethan Bradley is born and we still love each other.
May, 2008 - We get pregnant again and freak out even MORE that our marriage will die after current parents tell us their marriage suffered when they had more than one child.
January, 2009 - Noah Joseph is born and we love each other even more.
November 2011- Isaac Cabot is born and we struggle a little, but we pull out of it.
Present Day - Happy, content, still a good team with my best friend.
I know we're only nearly 9 years into what will hopefully be a story as long as War and Peace and I cannot tell you how thankful I am that we stuck it out. Goodness, according to those experts Gary Thomas quotes, Dave and I haven't even "created our being yet." I cannot tell you how thankful I am that God changed our hearts, gave us a desire to change and to please each other, provided mentors to call us out when we sinned against each other, guided people to pray for us and who knows what else. I cannot point to anyone other than God who is continuing to author our story and show us His plans for our lives through marriage. I don't presume to think that the struggles we've already been through will be the only struggles nor that they will be the hardest. I'm absolutely positive that there are hard times ahead. I just hope and pray that I can remember that my story is still being written and to hold out to find out the ending.