Last week we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. This post is a little late because we ended up going on vacation the next day, but here it is finally!
It’s been ten years since my husband Jon and I committed to share our lives together. We were very young when we got married. I was 21 and he was 23. We had no idea what we were getting into. Let me get a little nostalgic here for a minute…
We met at Bible College. He was studying to be a pastor when we met. I swore I would not marry someone from Bible College and never a pastor! Thankfully, before we started dating, he had changed his vocational goals at least. We got really serious pretty quickly and got married 20 months after we started dating. We had no money and a ton of student loan debt but Jon was still in school so we were able to pretend the debt wasn’t there!
He proposed at a park while he serenaded me on a picnic table with “Green Eyes” by Coldplay. It was sweet. I totally knew it was coming. Our wedding was lovely. We planned it in only 4 months. It was in my Great Aunt and Uncle’s backyard. We said our vows under a canopy of trees. Jon’s Dad married us, Jon wrote our vows, and I planned the party. Our vows tried to captured expressions of the Love of God: Eternal Love of the Father, Co-suffering Love of the Son, Dynamic Love of the Spirit. The reception was an open air coffee house, complete with an open coffee bar and jazz trio. It was such a special day.
We thought the beginning was easy. We did not experience the hard first year of marriage so many talk about. We even bragged about how easy we were together. Jon was in school for the first few years and worked at ‘the wood shop’ when he could. I waitressed and eventually got more in to working with people with disabilities to support us. We had fun. We had great friends and we loved to host parties.
Just before our 4 year anniversary, our lives started to change. We were forced to really become aware of what our issues where. Our marriage had been easy up to that point only because Jon never let his real feelings be known and I walked all over him. I don’t think it is much of a secret that I can be dominating and Jon can be passive. We are both overly stubborn. Resentment built in Jon and I was oblivious. Around the same time we had a lot of external influences push us down a different path. I was pregnant with our first child. Jon began experiencing deep and clinical depression which ended in him dropping out of his Master’s program. Jon’s dad died suddenly and unexpectedly. Livi was born a month, to the day, later. Jon continued experiencing mental health issues that manifested in different ways. My sister cut herself off from the family to be with an abusive boyfriend. I also, illegally, lost a job I loved but had no energy to fight for by that point in my life.
Livi was the one good thing in our lives in that time. I’m sure if it wasn’t for her we would not be here together now. She is not the reason we are still together but she did help us not give up in the moment, which would have been easy. She gave me the motivation to change myself and something to focus on other than my frustration with Jon. She was a beacon and distraction for Jon too. We were as close to a divorce as I ever want to be. I had a plan to leave one day if our talk that evening before didn’t go well. It did go well… as well as it could have I guess. We committed to and started some individual and couples therapy. We fought hard for ourselves and our life together. Over the next few months we worked hard, separately and together. Six months later we were a different, stronger, healthier and more respectful couple.
In the 5 years since our ‘year from hell’ we have continued to grow and shape our future. We became a real little family and our priorities evolved. Jon changed career paths and has been quickly advancing up the ranks of his new fulfilling career choice. When Livi was 18 months old we started our journey to adopt Sofie who came home in 2011. We moved twice and at the end of 2012 our precious Evelyn showed up! I’m a stay at home mom currently, taking care of my kids and playing domestic goddess and chauffeur. Jon works hard at supporting us and spending as much time with us four girls as he can! We are happy and content. It’s a pretty good thing we’ve got going on here!
I asked Jon if he had any words of wisdom or for something he’s learned over the ten years we’ve been together. He chose to be a dork and quote a Rolling Stones song, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.” Truth, but not what I was looking for.
I’ll share some of my thoughts or wisdom instead…
1. Understand and respect each others communication style and ALWAYS communicate!
I know it’s a little cliche but it is so true. You don’t know what the other person is thinking, so ask. If you are the one who is asked, be honest! Initiate conversation!
Jon and I have opposite communication styles, and it took a while to figure each other out. He is passive and will let himself suffer to avoid conflict, where I will hit conflict head on and not back down. I also talk things in circles. We have learned to understand how each other “fight” and respect it. We negotiated a few rules, like me not bringing things up right before bed and Jon giving me a five minute warning for when he is needing the discussion to be over or tabled. Jon puts extra effort into initiating difficult conversations and apologies, as well as patiently listening to me talk it all out.
2. Divorce is always an option, which makes you free to choose your marriage.
This was a big one for Jon. It sounds backwards to many who have been told to take the word “divorce” out of their vocabulary. I was raised by a single mom so divorce was a very real option in my mind but Jon felt trapped by that way of thinking. If there is no out when you are unhappy wouldn’t that just breed resentment, contempt, fear and depression? To think that divorce is not an option in this day and age is just naive. If you have an out then you become aware that marriage is a choice. You can choose to stay and work on it or you could get divorced! It was a very freeing idea for Jon.
3. Know what makes each other feel connected and practice that for each other.
I feel more connected to Jon when he puts effort in to making me and my efforts feel noticed. If he offers to wash the floors for me (a job I hate) or if her initiates and plans spending some quality time with me, I feel more connected to him. He would say he feels more connected to me when we have sex, which not an uncommon connection point for most men. When I feel more connected to him, we have more sex, which lends to more quality time and help around the house. It is circular 🙂
It’s been a wild ride! 10 years ago, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I thought my life would look like today, but I’m so grateful it has turned out the way it did. I am blessed to have a husband who is so on the same page as I am in our goal setting, finances, sex, life choices, and parenting. He has been willing to put up with so much of my baggage and pay for many of the sins of my father. I’m so thankful that we chose each other ten years ago and continue to choose each other today.