-A Note on Marriage and Hard Things-
I don’t completely remember the first time I met anyone.
It was the beginning my sophomore year in college. She was a freshman.
I was talking with a friend of mine in the back of a meeting before it started and she walked in. She caught my eye immediately. She started walking toward me, but she didn’t come talk to me. I don’t even think she noticed me.
She doesn’t remember the encounter.
I don’t remember what my friend and I were talking about when she interrupted or what we talked about afterward, but I remember the conversation Anna-Marie had with my friend.
Anna-Marie: “Hey, how are you?”
Friend: “I’m good, how are you?”
Anna-Marie: “Good, how are you?”
If the meeting wouldn’t have been starting, the conversation might have gone on forever.
I don’t know why I remember it or why it stuck to me at the time.
Maybe it was my first real life encounter with a Pete and “Re-Pete.” Maybe it was because it brought back childhood memories of writing “Idiot Test – Flip Over” on one side of a piece of paper and then the same thing on the other side.
Maybe it was her bleach blonde hair that gave way to her contagious smile… the same smile that makes my own heart smile. Maybe it was her green eyes that seemed to be filled with adventure… the same eyes that a few years later would light up when she held our baby boy for the first time. Or maybe it was the joy that seemed to shine from her… the same joy that I witness each moment when she makes me feel like I can do anything.
But I will ALWAYS remember meeting her for the first time.
I remember everything about it. And seriously, I have tried to remember the first time I met any of my other friends and I can’t. Only Anna-Marie.
(Oh, wait, I do remember meeting Knox and Tobin, but that is another story.)
From that moment on, I wanted to be around her. I wanted my friends to be around her. I wanted to be friends with people she was friends with. Simply because I wanted to do anything to be with her. She didn’t know me, but I was dying to know her. My desire was to ALWAYS seek how I could get her to notice me.
Sometimes life gets hard.
And when life gets hard, sometimes we get lost.
We forget who we are. We look for anything to get our mind off our stress and our problems. We do things we don’t really want to do or we say things to people we don’t even mean.
Sometimes a decision we have to make is draining. Often the work we have to do to get somewhere is a struggle. Maybe we even question where we are going or what we are doing.
I’ve been there.
Anna-Marie knows that if I am playing a game on my phone, that I am trying to keep my mind off of something. That I’m trying to take my thoughts out of the situation and get distracted in something else. Maybe I am stressed about something at work or home. Maybe it’s a big decision I have to make. She knows I distract my mind or escape from a situation with the game. It’s weird… I know…
What I’ve found is that when I do try to escape the hard parts of life, nothing Good ever happens. The problem never goes away. The decision never is made. The room never cleans itself. The work never gets done.
And the thing is, we want to do the work… we want to make the decision… we want to get through the struggle… we want to ease the stress… we want to get out of the valley… we want the room clean.
But if we want to…
Then we can’t try to escape from actually doing the work. We have to put on the hard hat and get to work.
The same things are true in marriage.
It took a while, but eventually I got Anna-Marie to notice me. We became really good friends over the next few years. And I just found myself wanting to be around her more and more. Those of you who know her, know the joy and fun she adds to life.
I also remember the first time I asked her to marry me. (Yes, I said first time… more on the second time in future post.)
We were at my parents’ house. She was lying on my bed playing with silly putty, sort of mad at why I hadn’t asked her to marry me yet.
Well, of course, it was because I had been trying to think of the perfect way to ask. I had been debating the way for weeks. I hadn’t come up with anything unique, memorable, or perfect. I just knew I ALWAYS wanted to be with her. I knew I wanted to go through the rest of my life with us together. So, for some reason at that moment I just did it.
I handed her the ring while she was lying on my bed playing with silly putty and mad at me.
Textbook fairy tale proposal… NOT!
But you know what? It was Good.
We both remember it like it was yesterday.
We will be married 15 years this August. Our marriage has been filled with adventures, from many vacation trips, to starting a business, to adopting two boys from Korea. There have been a multitude of great times and joyous moments that our marriage has brought to our lives.
However, much like my proposal, marriage isn’t flawless. Sometimes situations and events take you by surprise in marriage. Other times marriage is just plain hard. Marriage takes work. If it hasn’t been hard or taken much work yet for you, it will. If you aren’t married yet, prepare for it.
Sometimes we may try to distract ourselves from the hard parts of life.
Sometimes we may even try to escape those hard parts when they come up.
Maybe it’s a job that you throw yourself in to distract yourself.
Maybe it’s a hobby you spend all your time escaping with.
Maybe it’s some game on your phone.
All those things and a multitude of others can keep us from doing the work we need to do in a marriage or in any relationship for that matter.
The most important thing I’m learning about marriage is to ALWAYS work together. To not turn toward a distraction when it gets hard, but rather to jump into the hard together.
Because it seems to be that about every Good thing is hard. And every Good thing takes work.
From the first moment I met her, to the last smile I saw before she shut her eyes as I wrote this…
Through the mountains and the valleys…while in the mess…after and during the storms of life…in the hard… in the Good…