On this day, eight years ago in a small town in Kansas my life changed forever. I said “I do” and rode off into the sunset on a John Deere gator. We still laugh about how perfect the weather was that day. Typically in January, it is dreary and cold. That day was 56 degrees and sunny. Perfect!!! We really had no idea what we were in for when we decided to spend the rest of our life together. We are still discovering new twists and bends in the road. I would like to share some highlights, regrets, and a few life lessons that we have learned (and re-learned) along the way.
In eight years, we have lived in 6 different homes. Two of those were with parents for a few months (talk about romantic). We have lived in 3 different states. We have a very handsome son named Ty and we have another little one on its way in May. Our lives together are anything but normal. But that’s what Amy gets for marrying someone who is not normal. Not only that, but you have children who are just as wild and abnormal as their father. The early years of marriage were difficult but good. We made lots of tough decisions, worked really hard, and had many hurdles in our way. Amy got the brunt of that because she worked all day as a nurse and then helped out on the farm when she got home. (Not always joyously I might add, but definitely sacrificial.) The early days of marriage were extremely lopsided. She gave and I took. I was operating under a false sense of how marriage worked, albeit wrong. Thankfully, she never gave up on me and offered more second chances than I deserved. It was tough in the early stages of marriage, but that’s how you know what kind of marriage you have. Like a raw piece of steel, it was tried by fire and hammered out on the anvil of life and produced something useful as well as beautiful. Looking back now, I am so thankful neither of us gave up on our love because we now have marriage muscles that are a testament to toil of our commitment.
I do have some regrets in those 8 years. I may warn you that this section is quite honest and may be a little too real for you. I challenge you to soldier through so that you can see a picture of how the sanctification process works, even in marriage. Regrets in marriage can be a bad thing. Like wondering how your life would have turned out differently if you would have chosen a different mate. Or regretting to have kids when you did or getting married too young. All those regrets can lead to discontentment and possibly a way to go astray from your spouse. First regret! I regret every taking my wife for granted. We are made up so differently emotionally and physically. There were times when I expected her to work like a man or not cry like a delicate woman. I regret being so hard on her. I realize now that my type A personality needed to be focused in other directions. But sadly, I left my wife in ruin on more than one occasion in the wake of my driven-ness. Second regret! I regret the times that I was not thankful for my wife. Sure, I am always thankful for what she does but not thankful for her. It has taken me years, 7 and half to be exact, to be truly thankful for her. I can honestly say today that every night before I fall asleep, I thank the Lord for her. Third regret! I regret spending one second thinking about an old flame, lusting over another woman, or wondering what might have been. It is very hard to admit openly the dark recesses of my heart and mind, but like an old junk drawer it was time to come clean. I could easily justify my actions as that of any man but I choose to take responsibility and move away from that behavior. Life is too short wasting time on things that don’t matter. My wife matters most to me. Last regret! I regret I didn’t love my wife fully at times. There were occasions when I held back some of my love from the woman who I was supposed to love unconditionally and sacrificially. The worst part was the love I kept from her was used for myself. I hate that my selfish nature kept me from showing her how much I love her. There were times she wanted to talk but I wanted silence. She wanted to be held, but I chose not to. She wanted kind words of encouragement and I said something snarky. What a fool I had been at times. As much as I would like to say that this will never happen again, I know I will fail. But thanks be to God for His grace and for hers.
Now I know that some reading this will find this subject uncomfortable, but it is necessary. I know that most of my blogs are humorous and this one is a little more solemn. But today is a celebration. 8 years. It really is a victory!! I feel like this is the bull riders anniversary. We made the full 8 seconds and we are still riding. Sure, there were times when she wanted to high-five me… in the face….with a hammer. But that’s just life lived together. It’s messy. It’s crazy! It’s beautiful! It is so worth it.
Here are a few things that I have learned over the last eight years! Marriage is an investment, you get out of it what you put into it. For some, it means that you need to start working harder to make it work. Get your hand off the door and quit threatening divorce every time it gets hard. For others, it means loving yourself less. Self love has destroyed far too many marriages. What would happen if you turned all your love, attention, and affection away from yourself and toward your spouse. Yeah, they may think its a trap if you have never done this before. But if you sincerely are trying to put their needs first, they are more likely to reciprocate. Another lesson deals with home responsibilities, children included. There is nothing written anywhere that exempts anyone from doing home chores. I still struggle in this area. A good rule of thumb: if you see it needs done, do it. Don’t assume your spouse is responsible. At our house, we both avoid the dishes like the plague. Which is interesting, because I think that might be what is growing on the side of the mountain of dishes. Sure, there will be days when it is all on them or all on you, but if you work as a team; you can knock it out and move on to the good stuff :0!
One last thought as I wrap this up. Maybe your current marriage is on the rocks or your last one didn’t work out. Take a quick minute to reflect. They may have done you wrong, but I bet if you look closely there might be some blame for you. Forgiveness is a terrible yet awesome thing. We love to be forgiven but don’t like to do the same for our spouse. Maybe today, you should give forgiveness to the one whom you’ve been withholding it from. Bridges can be rebuilt, even burnt ones. If you have someone in your life that you are married too or are separated from, maybe today you can start fresh. Start loving like never before, start loving them and loving yourself less. Maybe forgive them and ask for forgiveness from where you fell short. Marriage is so awesome. First, because God created it. Second, because the fringe benefits are off the chain. Third, because it shows how two flawed people make each other stronger and better together than they could ever be on their own. I chose well!!!! I love you Amy Marie! Happy 8th Anniversary! I am looking forward to so many more. Sorry for being such a big lumbering doofus at time. Thank you for saying “Yes” back then and all the yeses to come!
Grace and peace to you in whatever day of marriage you are celebrating. What have you learned in your time of marriage that you would like to share? What were some of your regrets? I would love to hear from you!