19 years of marriage

I’m a happy man sitting in a restaurant in downtown Richmond, Virginia where I like to eat and work. This month is my wedding anniversary. After 19 years of marriage, I might finally be learning something. As I was preparing to leave on a trip last week, I was reflecting with my wife about our anniversary this month and we agreed that this past year may have been the best, most transparent, healthiest year of all of our 21 years together. We have found healing in confession, forgiveness and new honesty, new accountabilities, new sensitivities, and a better commitment to construction and mutual benefit. After some difficult times, big mistakes, small mistakes, serious failures, and pains we have both learned some lessons and we’ve noticed that we are better and different than before. We’ve found new humility to learn from others. We found new value in therapy and counseling and talking about relationship (I’m particularly bad at that). We’ve also learned from some of the positive elements and times – there have also been successes. And this last year has stood out to us as a new and important milestone. In some very real ways, we see in each other newness. We are both so different from when we began dating in 1997. We aren’t the same as we were when we were 19 and dating or 22 and newly married. We’re also very different from when we were new parents and new ministry-leaders. And, because of some hard stuff and realizations we’re even quite different from only a couple years ago. We haven’t stopped growing. We’re not married and together because we’ve always felt warm and fuzzy about each other. We’re married and together because we haven’t ever entirely given up. Maybe some people have easier stories. There have always been good things about marriage for us – even when we were bad at it. But both of us can remember times when we thought it wouldn’t last. And I think this year has been the best because we’ve been able to admit more to each other, sacrifice more pride and make decisions fueled by something better than impulse and self-serving emotionalism. We’re married because we decided to be. I love my wife very much. Sometimes we have both had to choose the discipline of love for each other despite our feelings. Today we are known to each other better than we ever have been and I love her more than ever also. Today, loving is easy. That’s a good day. Together we’ve learned first-hand that love is something better and deeper than simply an emotional response.
We’re
still growing and learning how to fix mistakes and bring goodness and healing to places where we’ve caused pain. I’m glad to be on a path that allows us to be open about that.

My wife is is the best person I know. She is an excellent mother to our children, a great friend to me and many others, and the best partner in life I can imagine. After 19 years of marriage, I know these things better and differently than I knew them before.