Friday, March 4, 2016

Reflections on 10 Years of Marriage

Ten years ago today was our wedding day. Impossibly bright, with a biting wind, and so many perfect details I can scarcely recall. After the wedding, we laid on the couch in our suite at the Ritz-Carlton (thanks grandma), still in our nice clothes, while Adam pulled bobby pins from my hair. The next morning, we flew to Jamaica. Two hours in a bumpy van ride ended in white sand beaches, bottomless drinks, and guards that carefully patrolled the edges of the resort. I forgot my camera, so we hired the resort photographer to snap our picture in front of the Jamaican sunset. We both wear bright colors, fancy outfits that perfectly pair with the brilliant sun sinking low behind us on the beach. Adam holds me in one picture, and we are impossibly young. This time, our first all-inclusive trip since our honeymoon, we fly into Mexico and I remember my camera, but we both forget to bring nice clothes. We shoot each other glances as they remind us of dinner dress codes; Adam wonders aloud if his pink Anteaters t-shirt counts as “dressy casual.”

Quite honestly, living in a Shane-Claiborne-Style upside-down Kingdom has ruined us for lavish vacations. As we fly over turquoise waters and lush green spread as far as the eye can see, all I can think about is my friend Bridgit who provides prosthetic limbs to those who, desperate, have fled Mexico by riding atop trains and suffered terrible accidents in the process. I try not to imagine their faces as we take our private car over bumpy roads and through guarded gates into all-inclusive white sands and endless margaritas. We talk about how much water we use in the seven-stream shower, how much food we waste, how much alcohol gets consumed. I am glad they rake the beach to get rid of the seaweed that sticks between my toes and smells of fish, then wonder what’s wrong with a world where we are so desperate for things to be picture-perfect we forget how it is to be real.

It’s ok, I think, to live in this tension. To recognize our need for escape and the ways we saved and scrimped to get here, while also feeling a little uncomfortable with the excess. If nothing else, ten years later, we have learned the value of not running away from the tension. Of leaning into hard things instead of away. Because Adam and I aren’t really “fighters,” necessarily, there have been very few times in our marriage where I’m the kind of mad that gets out of the car. More often than not, I stay, but twist my hips imperceptibly towards the window. I answer with clipped words, refuse to talk about anything important, wondering why he can’t read my mind. I shut the dishwasher loudly, slam the dryer shut as I fold yet another load of laundry and ask Adam in all seriousness, but why do you wear so many clothes? I am lucky enough, of course, to be married to one who doesn’t run away from my prickly moods. Instead he keeps asking “what’s wrong?” until I answer honestly. Until I tell him how I feel overlooked, unimportant. How I worry that my desires pale in comparison to his. That I’m not sure I believe in just submitting, unless we are doing it mutually. We question and wrestle (not literally usually), and I collapse into bed with a book while he flicks the channel to something about Alaska. We have different ways of unwinding, different strategies for loving our neighbors, and disciplining our kids. We don’t really dance anymore like we did at our high school prom (!!) but we coordinate a complicated dance of our own at 2am while he pulls Caden into his arms from a night terror, and I bounce Isaiah back to sleep as he nestles into the space of my neck with fingers entwined in my hair. I kick Adam awake when his alarm blares in the morning, and he woos me with coffee in bed before walking to the office.

Ten years later, we know it’s the hard things that strengthen us most. Something real gets forged in the fire of unpaid doctor bills, ER visits, and sleepless nights for six months straight. We catch eyes and know what the other is thinking, and I love that more than the flowers he left on my car every day after high school. Together we laugh about my lack of cooking ability and his maddening way of knowing how to do everything, but organize nothing. I sigh and drive to a job I don’t want, so he can do the one he does. I sacrifice for him, and he does the same for me. Because marriage is this constant laying down of self for the other.

The way our lives have unfolded over the last ten years is nothing like what we would have imagined, sitting under the setting sun in Jamaica. We wouldn’t have known to ask God for all the things He has granted us. I don’t know how to give advice on boundaries and tips for making love last. Because what works for us surely won’t work for everyone; but even still, moving closer together in forgiveness and laughter every day can’t hurt.

Because I am many days behind in my Lent study, today my reading passage began with this: “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” This is hard, we agreed over breakfast in bed. We clasped hands and prayed for our day and our marriage over mimosas and omelettes with sausage that looks like hot dogs. And we went into our day, into another year of marriage, hoping that perhaps we will finally be able to live selflessly, putting the other first. Because this, of course, is the real trick to marriage. Mutual submission and a constant surrendering of my own needs for the other’s. Not because I don’t have needs, but because I can trust they will always be met both in Christ and in a husband who loves me and serves Jesus every single day.

5 comments:

  1. Love you, friend! Happy 10 years!!

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  2. Beautiful reflections, Becca. And congrats on 10 years!! I hope you all have a wonderful time in Mexico! (And I'm totally with you on the amount of clothes. I do a load of laundry EVERY DAY.... are we really wearing that many clothes????)

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  3. Happy 10th Anniversary!! Beautiful writing, as always.

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  4. Happy 10th Anniversary!Great article!and i wish you 100 more happy years together!and an marriage equal relationships/ in your life!

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  5. A beautiful place to get married. I went to my friend's wedding here this past weekend. The chicago wedding venues are beautiful, one of the nicest locations for a wedding I've ever been. The ceremony was very nice and felt very intimate.

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