Cheers to 15 years of love, sweat and tears!

15 years.
15 years of marriage!

“Falling in love is automatic but staying in love is a fight and a choice. I will forever choose to fight for us, to keep our commitment alive and strong.”

If I could time-travel backwards and sit down with myself fifteen years ago and challenge the thinking of that young smitten bride to be, I would tell her adventure awaits but not how you think:

Love stories and fairy tales aren’t exactly true, at least not the Hollywood kind. Yes he makes your heart flutter and makes your brain romanticize the future but you are going to need to snap into reality and truly grasp that your dreams of what it could be vs the reality of what it will be are incredibly different and you have a LOT of work to do.

This person is not going to fit perfectly into your little box of fantasy, he is going to challenge you and you will question more times than you think, if the chemistry you had from your first hello was worth it?

We are taught to graduate, try to figure out a career, financial planning is important, wedding planning (oh that’s a stressful and fun day). We are even taught how to get married (sign here on the beautiful marriage certificate). We aren’t taught how to have a good marriage or how to stay married. Would we have even listened back then if they did teach the classes on how to live with another person successfully? (Premarital counseling was close but even that was not very eye opening to these two lovebirds).

Danny Ellison, I am truly sorry for not putting a ton of thought into the planning of the kind of spouse I want to be. Maybe some do this but I didn’t. I just wanted to be with you and was pretty blinded by a chemical romance to an amazing man at the young age of 22! Oy vay!

In 15 years I have learned that there would be many times when we were THAT MARRIED COUPLE who argues and fights over the dumbest things like steak and potatoes (seriously we had a huge fight over STEAK AND POTATOES and we didn’t wear our wedding rings for a week after that🤦🏻‍♀️). We have gone to bed fuming more than we wanted to, and I may have even cried myself to sleep with my head face down in the pillow asking time and time again, “Did I make the right choice?” I literally believed our marriage was on the brink of divorce over steak and potatoes. Nobody could have prepared me for that. (WTH)

Yes my spouse is hot, fun, funny, amazing, and the best musician on this side of the Mississippi. Those qualities will help for the times they will also bring their anxieties, insecurities, anger issues, flaws, and stinky farts and ogre breath to the table. I bring all of this minus the music part, and then some. ALL of these things are part of marriage, you can’t pick and choose what stays and what goes. Every single good, bad, and ugly quality we both bring will show up at some point so if we expect it and it won’t be as shocking. Yes I know those pretty vows kind of refer to the for better or worse things but I promise you don’t quite grasp it until you live it. At least that is my experience anyway.

My beloved has brought unspeakable joy to our lives, and deep pain. I too have brought unspeakable joy to our lives, and deep pain. Ouch. It doesn’t feel good to say the pain parts but it truly is the reality of two imperfect people joining together in holy matrimony. There are ugly holes that we have dug over time that would need to be filled with love, forgiveness, trust, and acceptance.

You will have many beautiful moments when you will run into one another’s arms and embrace the beauty of life and adventure together. You may also have times when you run away from one another. You may even pack your bag and call one another some ugly names as you slam the door behind you. I’m not saying you will do this but I am saying you may find yourself in this kind of crisis and as you walk away with your bag in your hand you may begin to cool down. You might just find yourself accepting responsibility for your harshness and decide to seek forgiveness and turn back. Humility is found here in this moment as you unpack that bag. You are not alone here my friends because unpacking that bag might be symbolic for dealing with your own trauma, insecurities, and darkness within.

I truly want my kids to know that marriage has not been and will never be a 50/50 he completes me and I complete him kind of thing. It is a, when I am at 20 he is at 70 and vice versa kind of thing. Recently he was closer to death and had to have emergency surgery. I carried us just like he has done when I gave birth to our children and had no strength to do anything but nurse a kiddo and figure out how to balance the postpartum struggles. We have found ourselves in situations where we have had to be more of a balance for one another. That’s okay!

We have carried joy, love, and peace. We have also carried sorrow, hatred, and war. We have been amazing parents and we have been terrible parents. We have been incredible lovers and we have been horrible haters. I would say these past 15 years have been bittersweet because learning to let go of expectations that you have for one another and embrace the beauty of what is can be a purifying thing.

I haven’t always been great at this but for the next 15 my greatest desire is to learn more about how I can serve him with a loving and peaceful heart. I want to seek more adventures and have more fun! I want to serve our children together and find ways to be a light.

I have learned that marriage was not designed to bring me happiness. It wasn’t designed to bring him happiness. Happiness is a byproduct of understanding pain and working through it. In fact my most joyful and happiest moments came after hard labor. Marriage is a sacred union where you are completely vulnerable and charged with learning that peace can be found once the bags are unpacked and you declutter and find ways bring joy to your lives through self care, sacrifices, balancing emotions, and choosing daily to say yes again. It is work.

You will accomplish more in your marriage by reflecting, praying, and communicating through the hard stuff then you will by stuffing it in bags and wishing it would go away. Spend less time demanding your way and more time asking “how can I help”! I wish I could say I was less demanding and more helpful the first 15 years but I am not certain of that. I can say that I have learned from my mistakes and that is the only way I believe we truly learn and grow. We have to be willing to change a few things about ourselves and I don’t deal well with change 😬.

Strong and secure marriages do not happen over night. At least that is not our experience. They take time. They take fighting it out, nurturing, discipline, prayers, crying, waiting, walking, more time, forgiveness, therapy, healing, running, falling and helping one another up. You may have to unpack a few bags and that’s okay. In order to be strong you must have at some point been weak. Working it out together is pretty powerful and has truly made us stronger.

After 15 years we still have work to do. But I sure am glad I am not doing it alone.

Since I cannot time travel I want you to know that I am sorry for the bags, holes, and weakness! Here’s to embracing what was and moving into what it is and will become. Happy 15th Anniversary!

Dear daughters, our marriage hasn’t been a fairytale. It has been hard but I believe we have found our “happily ever after”. If you decide to marry and if you are willing to wait for it, war for it, work hard for it, and stick with it, I truly believe you can find yours too. Just like most things, it takes commitment and practice.

When your wedding day comes I ask that you trade those pretty wedding heels in for a pair of your grandfathers combat boots (something borrowed)! You aren’t fighting your partner. You will need to fight your own selfishness and you will fight for your partner because the world will have many sparkly promises of better this and that but in the end you will only reap the benefits of the hard work you put into your lives together. Never give up and fight with everything you have to be better today than you were yesterday.
Always and Forever.

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