We have spent the last few days celebrating seven years of marriage. Seven! We enjoyed a much needed, relaxing, kid-free weekend (hallelujah!), and then yesterday–the official day–we let the kids in on the fun of celebrating with us.
Anniversaries of any kind invite so much reflection, and this has been no exception. My heart is full as I realize the strength and gift of what we have. I would by no means claim to be an expert, but I think I have realized one very important truth for building a healthy marriage: you have the opportunity every single day to choose each other all over again, to turn towards each other even when you’d rather turn away.
I always wondered how people could say they had just drifted apart. How does that happen? How do years go by and suddenly there is nothing where there was once a loving relationship? And I think it has something to do with this choosing.
Our responses and interactions with each other in the flurry of ordinary, every day living either add a brick towards forming a wall between us or they bring us a step closer into deeper connection with each other. It is not enough to choose each other as a spouse and have a pretty ceremony and say our vows. We have to go on choosing each other every single day.
When I don’t take him granted and I express my appreciation for all the little ways he helps carry the load, I am choosing him.
When he hurts or disappoints me and rather than attacking him, I express myself with humility and grace, I am choosing him.
When I hurt or disappoint him and I swallow my pride to say I’m sorry and make it right, I am choosing him.
When I recognize he is weary and stressed and I say, “Hey, why don’t you go for a run?,” I am choosing him.
Again and again, countless ways, I can move closer to his heart or I can step away.
We haven’t always gotten this right. There have been seasons when poor communication or overwhelming circumstances were allowed to build a wall between us, and it was tremendous work to tear that thing down. And I can see how something like that could grow insurmountable to where it seems completely hopeless. Those chasms can get harder and harder to cross.
But in the opposite vein, even when vulnerability and humility seemed the painful option, I have never ever regretted choosing that path. It becomes easier to choose that step now rather than deal with the wall later.
And with this understanding, I have a renewed passion for the next season of our marriage, a renewed commitment to being even more intentional about choosing this amazing man all over again, every single day. There are so many ways we can still say, “I do,” and I am looking forward to finding them.