Nine years ago, my wife and I were married.
Nine years. It’s a long time. Except that it’s also not so very long.
Long or short, nine years is definitely enough time to experience some of life’s ups and downs together as a couple.
If you’ve ever seen the 1965 Disney move That Darn Cat (starring one of my all-time favorite actors, Dean Jones, as an FBI agent tasked with tailing a roguish cat in an attempt to locate the ruthless bank robbers and their hostage), you may remember the scene in which Patti Randall (Hayley Mills) is talking with her boyfriend, Canoe, after returning home from yet another date spent watching a surfing movie. “Couldn’t we just once,” she asks, “see a nice quiet movie where boy meets girl, they have problems which aren’t too weird, they fall in love and live happily ever after?”
Falling in love and having problems which aren’t too weird—and, of course, living happily ever after—is probably the ambition most of us have in our single days when we envision meeting “the one.”
Real life, of course, isn’t always so simple. We do have problems, and some of them end up falling outside that category of “not too weird” (or hard, or long-lasting, or whatever other adjective you choose to insert).
I’m not talking about marriage problems here. I’m talking about life problems.
Now, I don’t know what sort of challenges you’ve experienced during your married life. Maybe the life problems my wife and I have experienced aren’t as big, serious, or weird as yours. That’s entirely possible. Or maybe they’re more so. The point is, at one level or another, we all have struggles we weren’t thinking about on the happy day we said “I do.”
I didn’t expect the family business I’d built my career around to begin a long, painful decline just a short time after my wife and I tied the knot.
I didn’t expect to be forced into an unexpected and unwanted career change when said family business finally shut down.
I didn’t expect my new business to take so long to get off the ground.
I didn’t expect the mental health challenges that roiled our lives for so many months and which still flare up now and then in unwanted ways.
I didn’t expect parenting four little ones to be as hard as it is. (All you fellow parents can give a knowing chuckle here.)
In short, our lives together have had challenges we didn’t anticipate, problems we didn’t envision, and bumps in the road we didn’t want. From a financial standpoint, we’re certainly not where we expected to be nearly a decade after marriage. We’ve had to raid our meager retirement savings to cover living expenses. We’re still living in our “starter home” with the small yard rather than enjoying a larger house with more space for the kids outside—and what’s more, I have no idea when that will change.
All of those things (and more) are true. And it’s also true that some of those difficulties wouldn’t have been an issue (or at least not as serious) if I were a single man.
But you know what? Despite that, there’s no way I’d want to go back.
Because despite the problems that wouldn’t be problems if I were single, married life is good. God Himself said it’s not good for man to be alone, and I agree. We’re made for companionship. We’re made to share life with a partner who walks beside us through all the ups and downs, no matter what.
And that, by God’s grace (and the goodness and patience of my wife), is what I’ve enjoyed these last nine years.
I have no idea what the next nine years will hold. I could speculate, but I’m not sure my predictions would be any more accurate now than the ones my wife and I made before we were married.
But whatever happens (or doesn’t), here’s what I know I want: with God’s help, I want both of us to still be in love with each other. I want us to be closer to each other and to God than ever before. And I want to be walking beside each other through whatever God allows in our paths.
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