On our next anniversary, my husband and I will celebrate thirty years of marriage. As I look back on our lifetime of love, I am astonished to find so many years have passed since two young kids went on their first date. We were only sixteen years old and juniors in high school—who would have thought we would still be traveling together at fifty-one? Yet isn’t that how life works? One decision leads to another, there’s a fork in the path, and a trajectory is set. When I think back on those two kids, my heart is tender, knowing what I know now about the ways we complement each other, the ways we’ve formed each other, the decisions we’ve made to make our marriage work, no matter the cost.
It wasn’t always easy. In fact, there were points when I wasn’t sure it would work. Because of issues in my family of origin, I went into marriage with a chip on my shoulder and an escape plan firmly in place. In theory, two extremely bossy and controlling people should not be able to make a marriage work. But I learned that I couldn’t stomp my feet and scream when I was angry, and he learned that he couldn’t shut down and hope I would go away. We learned to choose our battles, love each other sacrificially, and make our marriage the top priority. We also laughed a lot and figured out that prayer would save us over and over again. And we both decided that we were in it to the end, for better or worse, in sickness and health, until death do us part.
As I look back on our journey and consider what worked and what didn’t, I want to share with you two pieces of advice that were given to me, which made all the difference: