My husband and I dated 5 years before getting married. When the day finally came I remember hardly being nervous at all. Sure I was nervous about standing in front of all those people and saying my vows and possibly messing them up, and I was nervous about everything going perfectly as planned (which it didn’t haha, but really what is perfectly as planned anyways?) But I wasn’t nervous about walking down the aisle to the man at the other end. I knew I loved him. I knew I wanted to marry him and I knew we would spend forever together. Our day was beautiful, and was one of the best days of my life. We went on our honeymoon, and felt more in love than ever before.
It wasn’t until about a month after being married that I sat on the couch in my family room, all alone (Mike was still at work, he often worked later than I did) and I began to bawl. I had never felt so alone. Here I was a newly wed, living in a “big girl” house with the man I had wanted to marry since our first date. But I felt completely alone. I began to question all of my decisions and honestly felt so overwhelmed by the whole marriage thing. I had spent the previous year planning every last detail of our fairy tale wedding, running around to stores and vendors and sending out invitations and all the things us brides do, but I hadn’t prepared myself at all for the actual marriage part. I honestly did not think it would be all that different from dating, other than the living together part. I could not have been more wrong. Marriage was a lot different, and that living together part was a huge adjustment. I was learning quickly that marriage was a lot more compromise and a lot less “me” time. It was adjusting to someone else’s schedule (when they wake up, how long of a shower they took, how late they would work, who was going to make dinner, whose friends to have over on the weekend, and the list goes on and on). It was also adjusting to another ones quirks, like leaving dirty socks in the living room, or never remembering to switch the load from the washer to the dryer to name a few. I sat there wondering, had I just made the worst mistake of my life? Maybe I wasn’t ready to be married. I thought the first year was supposed to be the honeymoon year full of lovey dovey romance and blissfully riding off into the sunset, not waiting all alone for someone to get home from work to eat a dinner that is now cold because he is late once again. As I sat there, feeling sorry for myself, I remembered what our pastor had said during our pre-marital counseling, “Marriage is not a walk in the park, there will be a lot of sacrifices made, and challenges to be met, but to always remember Love is a choice, not a feeling” At the time I thought that was kind of odd. In fact I bet my face even showed it because I am pretty sure I scrunched it up, thinking in my head “hmmm did he never fall in love with his wife?” Because I was in love. I was hopelessly and romantically in love. And I could certainly feel it. My heart was overflowing with love.
But as I sat there only a few short months later, I got it. I understood that this was part of love. This was a pinnacle moment where I could choose to love my husband, as I had promised to do in our vows, or I could walk away and decide it wasn’t right for me. Just then my husband came through the door with a huge smile on his face, and came over and kissed me. Thankfully by then the tears had dried, and he didn’t know what I had been thinking. As we sat down to dinner and started to talk about how I had been feeling, I was reminded what made me “fall in love” with him in the first place. He didn’t judge me or make me feel like an awful wife, and he certainly could have. He assured me that this was all new, and it was an adjustment, and that we would get through it together. I realized I not only had someone to come home to, but I had someone to sit down and eat my dinner with (even if it was cold) and that he asked how my day was, and truly cared about the answer. In my heart I choose to love him for the rest of my life from that moment on. To me that night was more significant than our wedding day vows, because it wasn’t a rehearsed line that I was prompted to say, it was a promise not only to myself and to my husband, but also a promise to God.
I think we all get to that point in our marriage where we either can choose to love or we can choose to leave. And sometimes leaving isn’t actually the physical movements of packing up and leaving the house. Sometimes its simply the act of “checking out”of a marriage. Sure you’re still there day in and day out going through the motions, but mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually you have checked out. That is choosing to leave. Without those things your marriage is nothing. It’s an empty vase that is desperately begging to be filled with water and beautiful flowers, yet it just sits there. Empty and alone, and not being used to its fullest potential.
One of Mikes major times to choose love came later in the marriage. After years of not being able to conceive I could see in his eyes he wasn’t feeling the love anymore. We watched friends get pregnant and have babies and I could see he had checked out, maybe not purposely but because it was too painful. Here he was, faced with a life changing decision, stay and possibly never have kids, something he had always dreamed of, or leave. He chose to stay, and when I say stay, he not only stayed in the marriage, but he chose to love me through some of my darkest days. Now to some of you that may seem like an obvious choice, how could a husband leave a wife he claims to love just because she wasn’t sure she could have children. But until you have walked in those shoes you do not know how hard it is. How each and every day he had to pick up the pieces of an emotional mess of a wife who was on so many fertility drugs that she hardly knew herself anymore. Her emotions were not her own, and her heart carried such guilt and pain that it felt like it might kill her. He chose to hold her hand through every devastating doctor apt, and kiss her after she would throw up for hours after bad reactions to the medicines. He chose to love her even when she didn’t love herself.
Romans 5:8 “I loved you at your darkest”
Nearly 10 years, 3 babies, and many cold dinners later…we still have moments when we have to choose to love each other. Sometimes daily. We have things in our lives that still to this day bring us much sorrow and grief. There are days, sometimes weeks, where we both have checked out. When life gets the best of us, and we feel like we can’t possibly muster up the strength to choose love. We have situations that re-occur that cause tremendous stress and makes us fight and say things we don’t mean. But we both come back to that point of choice (after a lot of prayer). We can choose to love or we can choose to leave. We chose to love, the way God has always loved us. Through our imperfections and brokeness. Through our great joys and our deepest sorrows.To love unconditionally. I pray we always do.
Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
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