Reflections on ten years of marriage

Yesterday was our 10-year wedding anniversary. We spent an incredible weekend away in a cabin celebrating this milestone. But before we left town, we spent Thursday night watching our wedding video with our kiddos. They thought it was pretty cool to see a “movie” about us. 🙂 Watching it again and thinking about everything we’ve been through in ten years has made me realize how far we’ve come—through good and bad.

I was only 21 that day we said “I do” on the beach. I didn’t feel like a kid at all, but I realize now I had a lot of growing up to do in the years to come. I was so excited to get married. I felt the way I imagine a lot of dating couples feel: like no one else in the world could possibly know each other better or love each other more than we did. We were truly best friends.

If I had to use one word to describe our first few years of marriage, I would say passionate. We loved passionately and fought passionately. We were still getting used to living together, and it turns out we didn’t know each other as well as we thought we did! Some of the things that attracted me to Trey in the first place—his spontaneity, his easy-going view on life, his sense of humor—were the very things that could also irritate me when I interpreted those things as him being directionless, unmotivated, and sarcastic. And I know I had some surprises for him too—I was demanding, selfish, and sometimes took things too seriously. We both had some growing pains to get through in those early years. But we also had a lot of fun enjoying a relatively free lifestyle to do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. That is, until…

Baby #1. My pregnancy with Perrin was definitely a high point in our marriage. We’d been married nearly four years by then, and we had managed to work out quite a few of the kinks. We were so excited to be having a baby together (once I got over the initial shock that it had only taken two weeks of “not really trying, but not preventing” to get pregnant.) We were so in love and ready for our future. I could be wrong, but I don’t think we fought or argued at all throughout my pregnancy. We were just so happy. Maybe it was a gift from God because that high point had to sustain us through what came next—probably the most difficult season of our marriage thus far.

After Perrin was born, I quit working full-time to be home with him (in spite of the fact that I was actually making more money than Trey was at that point.) I was so thankful to be a mom to the best baby boy in the whole world, and even more grateful that I was able to stay home with him. But my life had changed drastically—I had gone from being at a job I enjoyed all day to being home all day. I was lonely, often bored, and surviving on very little sleep. I felt like Trey didn’t understand and didn’t try to understand how hard it was for me. We were also struggling to adjust to living on half of the income we had gotten used to. We were barely paying all our bills, and any “fun money” was completely out of the question. My postpartum healing took a long time, too, which meant physical intimacy was painful for a long time. We basically didn’t have sex at all for about six months following Perrin’s birth, which left Trey feeling unloved and unwanted. The stress of all those things combined left us both very short-tempered with each other. I wondered if our marriage would ever get back to where it was before. I knew we wouldn’t get a divorce no matter what, but I couldn’t imagine suffering like this through life together year after year.

But things did get better. We adjusted to parenthood, we got more sleep, we both prayed about our issues and found a new normal that included a spunky little boy. I joined a weekly Bible study that allowed me to find friendship and fellowship with other young moms. I started going in for office meetings more often so I would feel a part of my team (I was and am still working part-time). And Trey got a new job with a pay raise so that finances weren’t such a burden. Our marriage was back on track. Then along came…

Baby #2. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were when I found out we were having a little girl. I was super excited imagining our family of four. At the same time, I remembered how hard things were on our marriage after we had Perrin. I didn’t want to go through that low point again. Fortunately, our marriage was stronger this time around, and to some degree we had learned from our mistakes the first time. But I was not at all prepared for the challenges of dealing with a hard-headed two-year-old and a newborn who WOULD NOT SLEEP. Most nights, I was up with Brielle until about 2 or 3 in the morning. Then Perrin would wake up around 5:30 or 6 at the latest. I tried everything to get these kids on a more normal sleep schedule, but they were both ridiculously stubborn when it came to sleep. As the weeks went by, I felt angry and depressed. I wondered if I was having a spiritual crisis. Turns out, I just needed sleep. Trey was more understanding this time around, and he did what he could. I started going to bed at about 7 or 8 each night while Trey sat up rocking Brielle and watching Star Wars until about midnight. Then I’d take the next shift with her and feed her and stay awake with her until she FINALLY (glory hallelujah) conked out in the wee hours of the morning. We made it work, although we weren’t spending much time together during that season.

I knew I wanted to do something different to protect our marriage now that we had two kids and very little time or energy to spend on each other. So it was right around that time, when Brielle was still tiny, that I introduced the idea of Friday night date nights at home. We decided every Friday night, we would put the kids to bed early and take turns planning something fun to do together. We really missed our early years of weekend getaways and dinners out, so this was our way of recreating some of that romance and fun. It was one of the best things we’ve ever done for our marriage! We still have Friday night date nights, and I can’t even list all the incredible memories we have now because of them. We’ve had to get really creative to keep coming up with new ideas. I could probably write an entire book about our date nights. And thankfully, it worked. Although I was a sleep-deprived zombie after Brielle was born, we didn’t go through nearly the same level of marital struggle that we did after Perrin.

Now here we are, ten years down the road. We’ve gone through job loss, car accidents, funerals, arguments, miscarriage, financial struggles, misunderstandings, sleep deprivation, disappointments, health issues, and more. But we’ve also built special memories, found forgiveness, experienced patience and grace from both sides, produced two amazing children, and built confidence and security that we’re in this together, no matter what. Marriage is really a beautiful thing. And it’s these struggles and triumphs that make it beautiful. That bride on the beach ten years ago thought marriage would be beautiful because of the love and romance and fun it would bring. Those things are beautiful too, but it’s an untested beauty. We’ve endured scars to our hearts that have made our love grow back tougher, more resilient, and more prepared for whatever the next ten years bring us.

I have no delusions that the next ten years will be a walk in the park. We’re still figuring things out as we go along, and there are always new lessons to learn and new depths of intimacy to gain. Ten years of marriage has not made us experts. But we are both better people today because we fell in love and made a lifetime commitment to one another, and the years ahead will continue to scrape away our rough edges and make something more beautiful than my 21-year-old self could have ever imagined. 

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