When Dan & I met in January of 1998, we started dating and never broke up. So, from the time I met him, we've always been "us!" I've always liked who we are together. We just work. We have fun. I think we both find times that we need our space but overall, we just like being together more.
Before I married him, I had lots of married friends. Some were happy...many were not. They weren't miserable enough to end it but they certainly weren't thriving. They just existed. So, I don't know that I had extremely high hopes of wedded bliss. I knew I wanted to be married and I felt it would work but I didn't know how long the "happily ever after" would last.
We had a wonderful wedding day and honeymoon. Then, just 2.5 months after saying "I Do," we loaded up a Uhaul and moved 6 hours FROM. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. WE. KNEW!!! We had little money, one car, few possessions, big dreams and lots of love. Dan went to school full time while I worked full time at the seminary.
We learned in those early years to rely on each other. If something didn't work, we had to fix it because we didn't have anywhere else to go. I grew up in a way that talking things out didn't always happen. My family is known for compressing feelings until we just get over them. Dan was against that from the start. He made me talk. He taught me to communicate. We didn't have any friends when we moved so we realized how much we needed each other.
These were the days where hardly anyone had a cell phone. Internet was dial up so there was no Skype. Long Distance cost money. So, minus the occasional call to or from our parents, if we wanted to talk, we talked to each other.
We still attribute our successful marriage to moving away from everyone and everything we knew and starting fresh, having only each other. We had to learn how each other worked. If we had secrets, we had to share them with each other. We lived in a 580 square foot house. If we got mad, we had to make up because we there was no escaping the other person.
I'm so grateful for those days. Those are the days that shaped us into who we are today. Those are the days that taught me what a good man God blessed me with. I look at him sometimes and I'm amazed that me + him was part of God's plan. Not just amazed...grateful, too!
I've been thinking a lot about marriage lately. From a horrible marriage situation with one of my closest friends, to another friend with a marriage with zero respect for each other and very little love, to our morning devotion with Jonah about widows, it just seems I'm in marriage overload. Oh, and just last Friday, we attended the Festival of Marriage Simulcast from Lifeway.
I am a huge proponent of healthy, happy marriages. I always tend to err on the side of "cling to each other and don't let this tear you apart" when there is an issue. I'm a believer that God ordained marriage and the Bible speaks much more about that relationship than that of a parent to a child. It seems that many people in the same stage of life as we are (meaning with small kids) have put their marriage on the back burner while they focus on being the best parent they can be. When, the truth is, a good and healthy marriage can do more for your children than any thing you buy them, do for them, books you read them or places you take them.
I try my best to always uplift Dan to our boys. When he isn't here, we talk about how hard he works for our family. Sometimes as we are driving, I ask Jonah to tell me his favorite things about Dan then I tell him mine. Some of that is for Jonah's sake but some of it is to remind me just how great he is.
I'm not going to say we have a perfect marriage. No one does. But, we have a great marriage. I know of no other man with a spirit as gentle as his. Many people are kind in public but have hideous behavior at home. Not him. He treats us with the same love and respect as the people he shepherds. He is kind. He loves people of all ages. He is just as comfortable with a 3 year old as he is a 94 year old. He knows how to make people feel special, validated and cared about.
In this week that has found my very good friend in such deep despair because of poor decisions by her husband, I've prayed for her, wept for her, worried about her and prayed that God would restore him and make him the man God has called him to be. All the while, thanking God for the gift Dan is to me. Our home is a safe place where I feel loved, respected and valued. I'm pretty sure he is the one who is the cause of that.
In our prayer time and Bible study time each morning, we have been praying specifically for marriages of people we know who are struggling. If you want us to include you in that, shoot me an email or leave me a comment on here. I even allow anonymous comments on the blog for reasons just like this. I'm so grateful to God for the man he gave me and for our marriage. I want your marriage to be a gift too.
And, if you are single, Don't give up! I met and married Dan later in life than many of my college friends. I know the pain of being single and longing to find "the one!" Don't waste the wait. Draw near to God during this time. Some of you single girls who read my blog are already on my prayer list but I'll be glad to add anyone else. Just let me know. I'd love for you to experience "happily ever after" just like I feel God gave me!