Today the hubs and I celebrate 21 years of marriage! We have only survived over two decades because we transitioned, in a very messy fashion, from being singles to being one in marriage. The greatest factor to the success of our marriage is that we both know Jesus as our personal Savior!! However, it didn’t start that way and our first few years were really tough!!! I was a believer when we met but I was not “walking the walk” as they say and the hubs was not a believer! That alone was a recipe for disaster and I tried really hard to crash and burn our nuptials in the first few years.
Neither of us was set up to succeed in marriage and the hubs was on marriage #2 when we said “I do”! Both our parents are divorced. And my mother had been divorced twice before she met her 3rd husband who she stayed married to until they both died almost three years ago. Because of my upbringing, I had decided not to ever get married! It’s a wonder we survived at all. And then life happened. The hubs came into my life; I forgot my “Do Not Get Married” goal; and I said YES when he asked me to marry him.
No one talks about the adjustments, or transitional period, that married couples go through. Again, some transition well because marriage was always in their future. For some of us, it was a seriously bumpy road because marriage wasn’t in our original game plan.
Fast forward to our first Christmas as a married couple, which was only a little over 2 months before, and I freaked when my mom and grandmother gave me pots, pans, and knitted dish clothes. UGH!!! I went from getting gifts every year that were all about me to getting practical gifts for “us”!!! Needless to say, there were other factors involved in our rough first years other than getting the “wrong” gifts and my self-centered attitude! At this point neither of us had great examples of healthy, long-term marriages, let alone Christ-centered marriages. I truly believe that the only reason we are married today is because of the faithful prayers of one friend and the incredible advice from a very wise married couple who had a few years on us. The two of us stayed together, despite how we were feeling, and neither of us regrets that decision! Ever! Don’t get me wrong – it hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it for sure!
The single to married transition was difficult for me! It wasn’t because I loved being single, or missed it, but because I didn’t realize what that commitment really meant. I didn’t realize that we weren’t always going to agree; that he was going to do stuff that bothered the snot out of me; that I was going to have to be unselfish a lot of the time; that people treat you differently when you are married; that being broke and a young married couple was not a fun combo; and I figured out, really fast, that it wasn’t going to be an easy gig!!!
I wish I could encourage you by saying that I caught on quick. Or that it only took a few years to transition well into my new life role; but it just didn’t go that way. I also wish I could tell you exactly when my thoughts shifted but it’s hard to remember that far back.
What I can say is that one of my shifts occurred during one of my first Bible studies. I had attended a study with a group of ladies, called The Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC), when we were stationed in Okinawa the first time. I signed up for a Bible study written by Kay Arthur called “A Marriage Without Regrets”. The only thing I remember from this study, besides how much I liked the facilitator, is to approach my marriage as a ministry to God. And that is when the switch happened in my brain. I can’t remember exactly how she put it and, if I can find my Bible study materials amongst all the boxes I am living with right now, I will quote it properly then. For now, trust my interpretation of her statement. I was going to treat my marriage as a ministry to God – I was going to be obedient to His Word, no matter how I was feeling, and trust God to work it all out. I stopped listening to all of my negative feelings and I focused on how I could make our marriage better. In short, I started working on me. I allowed God to do some painful pruning and I started making really SLOW progress.
As I said earlier, there were many factors that contributed to our first, rough, married years and I will explore those more in future posts! God is still pruning me today as we transition from being an active duty, married USMC family to a retired USMC married couple who is now living in their retirement home at the ages of 45 (Me) and 47. It’s hard to even wrap my brain around this reality right now so I am going to take my own advice and take it one day at a time. I will start today by enjoying 21 years of marriage and all that we have been through; I will enjoy eating out for both lunch and dinner; and I will really enjoy shopping for both house related items and my favorite perfume by Jo Malone!! Happy Anniversary to me!!!