We celebrated our 47th anniversary yesterday. Well, no… that’s not exactly true. The truth is, we forgot that it was our anniversary until Facebook reminded us. The actual celebration begins this Sunday when we head over to a cute little Airbnb cabin that we rented on the banks of the Neuse River, near where my Mom grew up on the coast of eastern North Carolina.
Among those Facebook memories was one I posted three years ago in 2016. The last line of that post mentioned that I was looking forward to what the future held for us as a couple.
I was soon to find out.
Our fall schedule was crammed with ministry trips—a women’s retreat in the mountains, four days speaking in Virginia and a long-awaited speaking engagement in Ohio. Roger would be providing music at most of these events. Little did we know on August 6th that the most exciting trip we’d take that fall was to the Emergency Room on September 30, a trip that would turn out to be not only life-saving for my husband, Roger, but life-changing for us.
A pulmonary embolism was not what we were expecting in the fall of 2016.
Marriage is like that—full of things you don’t expect and frequently lacking in the things you expect the most.Marriage is full of things you don't expect and frequently lacking in the things you expect the most. Click To Tweet
Last night my daughter texted me, wanting to know how many years we’d been married and then asking how many of those years were marital bliss.
“Bliss is a myth,” I answered.
I know, I know; that sounds really pessimistic, doesn’t it?
Hey, I’m not down on marriage; I’m just a realist. Only heaven will be bliss. Her next question was even more interesting:
“Would you consider yourself an expert on marriage?”
She was surprised when I said no.
“Really?” she asked. “After all you’ve been through together?”
All we’ve been through… I thought about that all night, because just like you, we’ve been through a lot in 47 years of marriage: raising a family, moving across country, ups and downs of jobs and ministry, financial challenges, disappointments as well as dreams come true. The marriage vows are spot on, but we get blinded by the bliss thing.
Expert? No, I’m not an expert. There’s always more to learn and one thing I’ve learned is that unrealistic expectations will take out your marriage quicker than you can squeeze the toothpaste the wrong way.
There’s been bliss, sure, but also plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, many of them self-inflicted due to those unrealistic expectations.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I got married at 19 (19!) but I know I didn’t expect it to be so challenging. One expectation was certain, though… divorce was not in the equation.
When my husband proposed, he was adamant that if we got married it would be for life and I agreed. By the grace of God and sheer stubbornness we’ve managed to remain together.
(Stubbornness will wreck a marriage unless you’re stubborn about the right things.)
Here’s an expectation for you:
Expect your marriage to be opposed; the enemy despises a united front and he will do everything in his power to divide you, including using the myth of daily bliss to make you disappointed in your marriage.
I mean, really… I’m certainly not blissful to be around 24/7, so why should I expect my marriage to be blissful 100% of the time?
The movies portray marriage like one big romance, a la Titanic or When Harry Met Sally. In reality, it’s more Raider’s of the Lost Ark… romance, adventure, drama and humor. The humor helps!
On a hunch, I looked up the etymology of the word ‘anniversary.’ It comes from a root word meaning, “to turn, bend.”
I just knew it would be something like that.
So, yes, we’re celebrating our anniversary this week. 47 years of turning to God for help, patience, strength, unconditional love.
Turning to face each other when we wanted to turn our backs.
Bending to avoid breaking, bending to serve when we’d rather be served, bending our wills to benefit the other’s.
Bending our knees in prayer.
Bliss? Depends on how you define it, I guess.
But most definitely blessed.