Our first decade of marriage is complete. We are a far cry from the 20 and 24-year-old versions of ourselves that made those vows. I kind of can’t believe we thought it was a good idea to get married at those crazy young ages, but hey, it’s worked for us. (Side note: When Lincoln is old enough to read this, the ages we were on our wedding day will be changed to 26 & 30. You guys just play along, okay?)
I’m no expert, but I have learned a thing or two about sharing your life with someone over these last ten years. I think I started out completely clueless, but time and practice have been good teachers. Life & love & emotions are all about seasons & cycles. We act like we know this, but then when things get tough, we freak out. Every day can’t be amazing. It just can’t be. Hard times will come. Love will sometimes feel quiet and stagnant. I’ve learned not to say, “This is how we are,” because things change, you know? Sometimes our marriage is passionate and steamy and we are so mushy and adorable and all is right in the world. Sometimes it’s dull and boring and we feel like roommates, and our texts are all, “We’re out of Pull-ups. Stop by Publix on the way home.” I have to remember that it’s okay. When we are in a season devoid of fireworks, I know it’s just temporary. We’ll feel differently about each other soon enough. CS Lewis said about the feeling of being in love, “You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling.” These things come and go. They can betray us. When our marriage feels weird or off, I’ve learned to just wait it out and know that a new season will bring new emotions.
Sometimes things in our life and marriage are going so well and everything is falling into place, but we still have to remember that this person we love so dearly will not fulfill us. Mike cannot possibly be everything I need in life, and it’s actually unfair of me to expect him to be. I can’t be whole without a relationship with the God that created me. I have to find my worth and my value in Him. I’ve come to believe that my relationship with God is a huge factor in my relationship with Mike. When I want to please and live for Him, I’ll try to treat my husband right and make my marriage a priority. Another thing to recognize is that God made me with specific needs in life. I need to read good books, listen to good music, spend time with my girlfriends, spend time alone, travel, go for a good run. These things feed my soul. I’ve learned that it’s not selfish to take care of myself. I am a better wife and a better mom when I am proactive about filling up my own cup and recognizing how God has designed me. Nobody needs me to be a martyr. It’s freeing for your spouse to know that you aren’t depending on them for your every need and all of your happiness. I know that Mike adores me, but sometimes he needs to go shoot guns with guys. It’s okay if we don’t spend every second together. We should allow and encourage each other to recharge in our own ways.
Even when we are trying so hard to love our spouse perfectly, we will inevitably mess it up from time to time. In those moments, I try to lean on the passage of Scripture from 1 Corinthians 13. Love keeps no record of wrongs. This is huge. I could rattle off a list of Mike’s failures in our marriage. I could tell you every expectation he hasn’t met or every time he’s hurt me. Or I can choose to focus on his strengths and the places he excels as a husband. He could do the same for me. I am not always the easiest person to live with. My husband chooses to look at me like I’m the woman who uplifts him and cheers him on and makes him feel loved, not like I’m the woman who snaps at him and nags and seems impossible to please. I’m both of those people, but he forgets my failures and concentrates on my positive qualities. I know I don’t want to be defined by my mistakes and my shortcomings, so I have to extend that same courtesy to him. I choose to see him in the light of his successes and not his failures. It’s too much pressure to make our spouse feel like our love for them is contingent upon perfection. Real love is deeper and stronger and able to allow the other person to fail sometimes.
Mike, thank you for choosing me day after day. You are an amazing husband. We’ve learned so much together. You have given me unconditional love, constant support, and one beautiful little boy. You put up with so much from me, and you somehow still love me. Who else would think I’m adorable instead of obnoxious when I’m angry? We’ve made a marriage and a life that I’m proud of. This year has been so difficult for me. In the midst of my heartache, you have been a rock. You’ve let me sit in my puddle of tears when I needed to and been so patient with me. The hardest seasons we’ve walked through in our marriage have seen us emerge stronger and better. We aren’t perfect, but we have become pretty good at forgiving. You make me better. I loved you when I was 16, I love you now at 30, and I’ll love you when I’m 80. I’m ready for our next 10 years.
And now, a slideshow. Set to music. Because I am hopelessly sentimental, and believe that if you have an opportunity to set photos to music in a sappy manner, you should take it every time. I’m all about that cheese, ya’ll.
Thanks to my friend Ashley McCormick for taking these photos. It’s so rare to have nice pictures of just us two, and we are so thankful for these beautiful images to help us celebrate our anniversary!