An Honest Look at 10 Years

Ten years ago I said “I do”to Nate, and vowed to be his wife in good times, hard times, sick times, fun times, confusing times, and any other times Nate and I might traverse together.

Some might say we’re lucky to make ten years, and a look at the marriage statistics in our culture would confirm it. luck has nothing to do with it. Neither does “being in love.”

Commitment

When we said “I do” I knew there would never be an “I don’t” between us–not in the divorce way. There have been plenty of “I don’t want to” times and “You drive me crazy” times (interpret that as you want).

But all the time is “I love you” time

That’s commitment. We know that we know that we know that we love each other. No matter what. To be honest, I’ve had to remind myself of that a few times. I’ve asked myself, “Why does he love me?” because I’ve seen nothing good in myself. And at other times I’ve asked myself, “Why do I love him?” Even if I can’t articulate why at the moment, when I climb into bed at the end of the day and he’s there, I know that I do.

So do I have a good marriage?

I have a great marriage. A spectacular, wild, heart-thumping marriage. That doesn’t mean it is struggle-free, and in today’s social media culture we can pretend that a great marriage is two-dimensional, something we see on the pages of a magazine or on TV. Happiness looks so easy.

Let me assure you, I’ve yelled at my husband for the stupidest things. Like when he leaves mounds of dishes by his side of the bed, or blatantly rejects the facts of science (like germ theory) or refuses to attend social events with me.

But this post is not about the struggles. It’s about the blessings. In honor of ten years of marriage, here are ten things I love about Nate:

10 reasons 1

Does this need explanation? He endures the yucky in me, and I’m thankful. And he even cuddles me when my bearish ways are at their heights.

10 reasons 2
This man can hike and work with the best of them.

10 reasons 3

No loud speeches or fancy talk, just action.

10 reasons 4

 

The things this man has made me would blow your mind. And just because he’s a quiet server, someone who likes to give. I’m lucky to have received from him.

SONY DSC

Yes, you read that correctly. I love that he loves football. It’s manly. It exhibits the strength and wildness innate in a man. Label me whatever, but that’s how I grew up–with sports-loving men. When I was in seminary, we used to joke that Sunday’s were “s” days: Sabbath, sports, study, and . . . .

10 reasons 6

We had this great idea once to hide a turtle in the bed of a friend for a practical joke, but as soon as we took it inside, it peed all over. We never knew a turtle could go so much. And we laughed. There have been so many more times that laughter gets the best of us and we can’t stop. He’s got a great laugh, and I’d do almost anything to hear it.

10 reasons 7

He took a personality test once, when I had to for seminary. He came out a loner. A LONER! I’ve always thought of him as my mountain man, someone who could disappear into the hills for months on end without seeing others. Though his introvertedness has its frustrations, it’ good for me, also an introvert. Talking can be overrated. Being together while being silent, now that’s a five-star night.

10 reasons 8

Respects it, loves it, thrives in it, and makes me feel safe in it. This man appreciates the beauty of God’s creation.

10 reasons 9

It’s amazing to look at our kids and think, “We made them.” I couldn’t have made these two without him. And even with him, what are the chances of that one sperm connecting with that one egg? The creative power of procreation is a wonder to me. I think I could have ten more kids with this man and be continually amazed at the results. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” wrote the Psalmist. We all are.

10 reasons 10

Sometimes I like to fight with words. I can zing some good phrases his way. He doesn’t take the bait. He goes quiet on me. Which drives me crazy. But really, it’s a good thing. I married a man that lets me get the wild out, and stays tender. He’s patient with the kids when I want to run out of the house and up the road all the way to the railroad tracks and jump on a westbound. Tenderness should never be underestimated. A tender man is a rare and beautiful thing.

 

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I Married a Human

photo courtesy freedigitalphotos.net
photo courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

He’s asleep when I come to bed, and just crawling beneath the covers I can feel his warmth. His breathing is like a lullaby, and I don’t want to sleep. I want to listen, to absorb all this humanness from him, to ponder the oneness I feel.

I wake up at 4:00 in the morning and he’s gone. Already hard at work for those he loves. I feel empty. Separation anxiety. Yes, I love this schedule when he’s home by lunch, but when I’m cold in the middle of the night? Or struggling with wakefulness? Or wanting to talk to him at 8:30pm but he’s already out like a light?

One of my favorite things about marriage has always been lying in bed next to my sleeping husband. It rouses something tender in me, makes me believe all is right in the world.

To be asleep is to be vulnerable. Sleep is a need, and we might resist, but eventually it gets us.

And every time he sleeps, I have a realization: I married a human.

Though he might look like a superhero at 6’2″, with a broad chest, and a nice curve of bicep on his upper arms, he’s not a superhero. No offense to him, because when he’s pushing that lawn mower for two hours after working half the night, his resemblance to a superhero is strong. Or when he carries thirty pounds of child up a mountain and I can barely haul my own body up, I figure he’s close to attaining superhero status. And when I feel small and safe in his arms? Hero, again.

But I’m not a newlywed anymore, and I know that one of the greatest gifts I can give him is the grace of being human. I can put aside those superhero expectations. When he’s tired, and the doubts crawl in, it’s my turn to hero him, to wrap my arms around him and bring the safety.

I have one superhero. His name is Jesus. He does not grow tired, and he never leaves me. He’s brought me into this covenant relationship with my husband. Together–he and I–we’re needy and vulnerable. But in between the outstretched arms of our Hero? It’s safety and blessing and communion.