For better, for worse,
For richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
Till death do us part…
As we said our vows on December 30th, 2011, we meant it. It’s idyllic. We had typical newlywed expectations that, over time, changed as reality set in. It’s one thing to say the vows, it’s another thing to live them. I can see why so many people say those vows and don’t follow through. Marriage is a wonderful union, but it’s also very hard. We’ve lived too long in the “worse,” the “poorer,” the “sickness.” So many times the weight of carrying these vows strained our relationship. The important part? As heavy as they might get, we still carried them. And I would rather struggle with these vows with Andrew over anyone else.
We’ve been walking through a very difficult season for at least half of our nine years. Starting a business from scratch. Navigating a difficult pregnancy and a near death postpartum medical trauma. Navigating major hits to our business and family’s wellbeing. Some leading to hard financial ramifications. Navigating more health challenges. There are two reasons why we’ve survived so far – our faith in Christ and my husband that leads our family with grit and determination.
The message at our wedding came from Ephesians 5:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.Ephesians 5:22-33
New love begins with a rush of life that courses through your whole body. New love makes you giddy. New love leads you to disbelieve someone so wonderful would want to call you theirs.
Old love roots its feet firmly into the ground as the winds of life attempt to slam you to the earth. Old love is my husband being the rock grounded in Christ through blood sweat and tears as we struggle to keep going. Old love is messy but old love endures. Old love is what allows you to fulfill God’s words in Ephesians 5.
When thinking of my husband I also think of Peter – the rock – who struggled to stay true to the course as Jesus’ disciple but continually returned to Christ and became the first leader of the Christian church. Andrew stays the course. Andrew humbles himself before the Lord. Andrew rights the winds of life to stay true and right with Christ. And he leads me along with him.
Andrew is the first person to call me out when I am falling. Andrew holds me up and takes care of me even when I’m fighting him tooth and nail and don’t deserve his kindness and patience. He will be the first to tell you that he doesn’t always make the right decisions. He doesn’t always keep his usual steady calm but he always fights for what is right and to do what is right.
The first thing I noticed about Andrew before we even knew each other is that he cares deeply. I would watch him interacting with the middle school boys at our church youth group and, in the midst of the rough housing and joking around, I saw how invested he was in their lives. I thought to myself, “He’s going to make a great husband and father some day…but he’s not my type.”
Then I saw that he always found opportunities to help people. When I was in a bad roommate situation and needed to move suddenly and quickly, I asked my fellow youth group leaders for help. He responded immediately with help above and beyond what was expected. I spent a day with this guy that I barely knew moving my stuff and something was sparked. From then on we spent more and more time together. It didn’t take long before we realized that we, as individuals, were better together. We were married less than a year later.
Most importantly, Andrew doesn’t give up and he doesn’t give in. He’s not afraid of hard and he won’t stop until the desired results are achieved. Where my tendency is to give up and move on he brings me back to earth and pushes me to finish what I started and to do it well. This trait infiltrates every area of his life. When he makes a promise to our son, no matter if our son even remembers the promise, he will fulfill it. He keeps his word. It’s the reason he’s such a great mechanic – he won’t give up on a seemingly unsolvable problem and he does whatever it takes to fix it the right way. The way he does his job is an analogous to the way he lives his life.
Through my mental health challenges, I have put Andrew through a lot. I’ve treated him in ways that he didn’t deserve. I’ve been meaner than anyone deserves and yet he never walked away. He sacrificed a lot to be there for me. He pulls me back to center time and time again.
Nine years into marriage, I am a better person than I was before I met Andrew. Nine years into marriage I love him more than I ever could imagine. After nine years of marriage love looks different than I ever would have expected.
I don’t give Andrew a lot of credit for the things he’s done for me and our family. I’ve resisted it a lot of times. It’s hard to see him work 80 hours a week. It’s hard to miss him so much when he’s only fifteen minutes away. We’ve yet to have a date night this year. Our life looks this way right now because he’s fighting to grow a business to provide for our family through challenges that are hard to believe could all happen within such a short amount of time. Some days I let my emotions take over and get angry that he’s not there enough. Other days I see how hard he’s working so that our family can survive, I see how bone tired he is and I see how dedicated he is to making life better for us.
Andrew is not perfect. He messes up. But he gets up, faces the truth, and rights the wrong. He’s a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ and through walking out his faith, he leads by example. He’s a dedicated husband and father. He’s a dedicated friend. He’s my best friend and I wouldn’t have it any other way.