Our baby was burning up with fever last night. I was so concerned for her I was on edge and I barked at my husband because he could “take it.”
How did he respond? He took turns with me all night caring for her. He helped me fight to get the medicine down, and then he and I spent hours rocking her and rubbing her back and tummy. Numerous times I could hear her awaken him during the night so that he could feed her sips of water.
I woke up this morning and thought it all over. We have been married 33 years, and the young man I married is now approaching 60 with a long, white beard.
But he and I are still partners.
No, we aren’t “textbook.” We never have been.
We met on August the 3rd and married six weeks later on September the 16th. We had our first baby 13 months later. He was a stay-at-home dad for the first 2 years and I was in the US army.
Not only that, but we came from families that were filled with good, well-intentioned people but their lives were train wrecks.
We didn’t have any hope of success, and yet, here we are, still hanging in there, loving each other and loving our 15 kids together.
What made the difference? How are we together after so many years, and why do we still look into each other’s eyes over dinner and smile knowingly at each other across the room?
I wish this didn’t sound so oversimplified, but it really has been Jesus.
There were so many times that our own lives resembled a train disaster. Our journey has not been sweet and easy. Not only have we had to fight the usual changes and challenges, but we both have patterns and tendencies that were modeled for us as we grew up amongst divorce and vices of every kind.
But then God stepped in over and over and over. He sent people and teaching and His wonderful Holy Spirit, and just when we were at the brink, He scooped us up and dangled us high enough so that we could see the bigger picture.
Over the years we have developed ways to complement each other. I hate handling business, so he makes the lion’s share of the calls and takes care of the money and the accounts. He’s no good at cooking and cleaning, so I handle that. I am lousy at keeping cars together (I don’t even look at the tank until he reminds me), so he takes care of them. He’s not too handy, so I fix things. I am more of a reserved, observant person, so I listen, plan, and advise, but he adds sparkle and life to everything we do and engages and enthuses the children.
When we struggle, we are there for each other with a quick hug, encouraging word, or even a swift kick in the pants if necessary.
It wasn’t always this way. In our younger years we were pretty volatile; it was easy to take offense and fly off the handle, or to let our fears get ahold of us so that we were tempted to self-destruct.
I think this was partly because we grew up in a culture that emphasized romance above substance and feelings above principles. We have come to realize that this is what ruins most marriages, but God has answers for all of that.
After years of delighting in Him, he has given us the desire of our hearts; a love that does not resemble a party with fireworks, but one that his rich with commitment and patient understanding. When we look at our lives together now we are more like the hum of a well-oiled machine; reliable, comfortable and stable.
I know there are many reading this who are struggling. It seems so hard to work things out; emotions, needs, selfishness are all like huge chuck holes in the road and we become exhausted from the swerving and bumping through them all.
It would be so easy to pitch the whole thing and start over, but that’s a lie. Oftentimes our desire to turn and run only causes us to fall into the ditch on the other side. The devil wants you to fail; he wants to be able to throw you and your spouse into the pile along with the others.
But don’t fall for it.
Stick in there, grit your teeth if you have to, and pray—ask God for wisdom, believe He can change your behavior to match His new creation. Read the Word, get some sound counsel, read some good books, fill your mind with positive thoughts.
And then, when you have lived a long time and you are looking into the mirror and pulling out some grey hairs, you won’t be doing it alone. There will be someone standing there with you, and you can laugh together about the whole business.