Reflections Upon A Marriage

November 1st is not a significant date in our marriage. There are no birthdays or celebrations that fall upon today's date. Even the fact that Halloween was yesterday has little impact. However, the last few days have left me in a lot of reflection about my husband, our marriage, and our relationship.

On November 1, 2000 - I was a normal kid. 16 years old. Excited about the major life milestone of becoming a licensed driver. Going to school, spending time with friends, crushing on boys. I struggled with many emotions, often tough ones, uncertain of who I was and what my life would be. (I cannot exactly speak for my husband, but will hypothesize...) He was a high school dropout, living at home, trying to find purpose. Struggled to find a job and spent a lot of time hanging out, doing things that I would punish our children for. He was unaware of the impact that the next year would have on him, as he would make a stupid decision with a friend and end up spending a lot of time in a juvenile detention facility.

On November 1, 2001 - We had been boyfriend and girlfriend for just over two months. It was that cute, uncertain, happy stage of dating. As we approached the third month of our relationship, I continued to joke that no boyfriend had ever made it past three months, so if we didn't break up, we were destined to be. My mom didn't really like him and his mom didn't like me either. We were really honest with one another. He told me his past with drugs, girls, drinking, and legal trouble. I showed him the cuts and scars that I used as my personal therapy. We lived two different lives, but yet, we just "got" each other.

On November 1, 2002 - My life was in transition. Dorm life at a small Christian college left me feeling shameful for my relationship with him, yet I struggled to connect to the "perfect lives" that were all around me. I did not fit neatly into the norm and I found myself split between two worlds. He was working a full-time job, getting established as an adult, growing up. His choices weren't as detrimental. However, our relationship was explosive. Sometimes, it was amazing and beautiful. Sometimes, it was full of searing pain and hot lava.

On November 1, 2003 - I was adjusted okay at school, starting my second year. I had spent the summer working at a camp. He was working on moving out of his mom's house and working in a long-term job. We fought...a lot. I don't remember much of this year, except that it continued to be a roller coaster of love and hate. I felt torn between wanting an education and spending time with him. I had high standards and expectations, often stuffing him into an unrealistic mold, and then getting angry when he did not fit. He was uncomfortable with the level of commitment that came with two years of dating and often did what he wanted whenever he wanted to do it. It was uncertain what was going to happen.

On November 1, 2004 - I was dealing with the loss of my grandpa alone. We had broken up shortly before my grandpa died, because I felt like we weren't working and I wanted to date other people, meaning that I had my eye on someone that I wanted. We talked, sometimes, as friends, but it was weird and awkward. He wanted to be together and I wanted space to figure out who I really was. It was confusing and hard. He had moved from a couple different apartments and was now living with a female friend. It was a party place and I was sure that he was partying too, but he swore that he just needed a cheap place to stay and that he just stayed in his room. He continued to tell me that I was the only thing he wanted, but I wasn't so sure about our future.

On November 1, 2005 - We were adults living an adult life. I had graduated. I had a job. He had a job. We had gotten married and were madly in love with our newborn daughter. She made everything else make sense, event though we were not planning on everything happening so fast, it felt perfect. We felt perfect. We were living in a small one-bedroom apartment, living paycheck to paycheck, but we were really good at pretending that life was amazing. Except the nights when our baby would refuse to sleep. Or the times when we screamed at each other, slamming doors, screaming vulgarities. He was working third shift. I worked first. We were exhausted, stressed, and trying to figure out how to be adults.

On November 1, 2006 - Our little girl was growing up. We had moved to a townhouse, which was more spacious and suited our little family better. We had decided to ask my cousin to live with us, so we were also parenting a teenager. My husband had become a stay-at-home daddy after being fired from a job, but we were doing okay financially, as I had continued to succeed at my job. Our relationship had become less hostile and we both were content to just live and hang out most of the time.

On November 1, 2007 - We were setting into our new home. Things were unpacked and a sort of normal was emerging. He was working at a nationally recognized company and had just received a permanent full-time job. I was at the same organization, but continued to accomplish more and more. Opportunities were arising and we were doing well by society's definition. Our little girl was happy and healthy, enjoying her freedom to roam around a large home with a big backyard in the suburb of our medium-sized city. We were happy, or so it seemed.

On November 1, 2008 - Our family was growing. We were pregnant with our second child, a boy, who seemed to be what we needed to be complete. We both were continuing to work and I had received a promotion. Our home had been updated and decorated, including a fence around the yard. Overall, we were healthy and everything appeared to be well. But there wasn't any passion for life. We were just going through the motions, day in and day out, not living more than a shell of existence, modeling the "perfect" life.

On November 1, 2009 - A baby boy and a little girl were our motivators. Our marriage had fallen apart, and we were trying to savage whatever pieces we could. An affair and a pregnant mistress left us clinging to our shipwrecked pieces for fear of drowning. We struggled through painful conversations, broken trust, counseling sessions, tears, screaming, fights, betrayal, and in all of the mess, found faith. We found a faith in God and a faith in one another. We were still uncertain of what was going to happen, as the birth of another baby loomed like a dark shadow overhead and our floor could collapse at any moment depending on what the mother chose to do.

On November 1, 2010 - We were breathing. We were loving. We were okay. And truthfully, we were stronger than we ever expected we would be - as individuals and as a couple. Our little girl began kindergarten after we requested early admission. We were involved at our church, so much so that I had quit my job and had begun working for our church with not much more than faith to know that I would be okay. We were able to rest without the affair being a daily topic of discussion or thought and we were able to see the value in forgiveness. We were able to feel everything deeper and clearer than we could ever recall.

On November 1, 2011 - More change. I continued to work at the church, but my hours were significantly cut. Our son was in daycare a couple of days a week and our daughter was in first grade. On a whim and at the prodding of God, I decided to apply to grad school to get a Master's of Counseling degree. I got accepted and began school. He was still working at the same job, which would be his longest lasting job in his life. When he wasn't working, he took pride in working on our house, making many changes that made it into a home.

On November 1, 2012 - I was still in graduate school and still working at our church. We decided to homeschool our daughter after two difficult years at a local elementary school. By default, I was teaching my son also. He had undergone recent surgery for a double hernia, causing our financial accounts to become even more thin. Our marriage was strong, but stress was high, so we had to continually give our concerns to God to take care of. Additionally, after the death of "my" dog at my mom's house, we decided that it was time to find a pet (other than the fish that we killed). Bella, a beautiful and sweet Boxer mix, fell into our lives at 8 months old.

On November 1, 2013 - Today. Our daughter is in third grade at a different local elementary and enjoys it much better. She is beautiful and social and has such a kind heart. Our son is in Pre-K and loves it. We experienced a long year of health concerns after our baby boy was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome and Minimal Change Disease (but has been in remission since July). He has a heart for God and an ornery streak that can only come from his daddy. Bella is now spoiled and a permanent fixture in our home. I lost my job at the church, but began an internship at another church. I continue to be in school and feel so blessed in life. My husband provides for us and never complains. He is involved with youth group and has become such a strong Christian man, despite everything. We have seen how God can redeem brokenness, in many ways. Despite everything, I love him and I am happily married, even though I wondered if it would ever be possible. We have the best relationship that we have ever had and continue to grow as a couple, as believers, as parents, as a family. God isn't finished with us yet, but we are here, ready to tackle whatever is next.

Romans 8: 37-39: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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