Staying married. People ask us the secret to staying married so long. Because in 2018, twenty-four years is considered a long time. It’s not really a secret. And it hasn’t always been a picnic. There was no mysterious marriage recipe that was handed down to us from generations past. I will say that there have been only a few divorces in our families. So divorce doesn’t initially come to mind when times are tough. But there have been many times one of us wanted to leave. I have personally packed a bag, ready to leave, a few times. I’ve also been “asked” to leave.
We have had some really tough times in our marriage. Things that could have broken up even the strongest of marriages. And honestly they almost broke ours. But at the end of the day, for us, it was about deciding that the vows spoken on our wedding day were going to survive. That we were going to get good with God, and work things out. That we were going to survive as a couple. As a family. Whatever it took.
And we make that same decision every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. To stay, even when, and especially when, it gets difficult.
I’ve heard the story of an elderly couple that was also asked how they had stayed married for so many years (many more than twenty-four) and the gentleman answered something to the effect of, “We just never fell out of love at the same time.” The implication is that married couples do fall out of love from time to time. But as long as it doesn’t happen at the same time there will at least be one person fighting for the marriage. I think in our marriage, we both may have fallen out of love. A few times. Possibly even at the same time. But again, it came back to deciding that we weren’t going to quit at marriage. No matter how difficult. And it was painfully difficult. No matter how many tears were shed. And there were buckets of tears. No matter how many harsh words were said. And there were so many harsh and hurtful words. No matter what we might be feeling. No matter who wanted to leave. For God. For us. For our children. We felt we had to make it work.
In 2019, I will share with you what went wrong, what we did to fix it, and how God is redeeming us through our saved marriage. I can tell you that it’s not going to be easy to share. My body shakes with fear at even the idea of writing about it. It’s tough to admit the things that went wrong. It’s tough to talk about what I did wrong. But I know it’s time to tell our story. And God has confirmed that it’s not the just fun, festive, pretty parts of our lives that people need to hear, it’s the truth and even the tears. And see how the tears can lead to the good. And can always lead us to God.
“You planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people.” ~Genesis 50:20