I can still vividly remember the way my bride looked walking down that isle. I can still remember my reaction. Tears filled my eyes as I whispered,
You know the cool thing? I still say that about her. Not just because she’s beautiful to look at. Her beauty transcends looks. She has a Godly heart. Willing to serve, willing to do what needs to be done for the family, and willing to sacrifice her needs for those of others. She does it all without complaint, although I know every day of this deployment presents its own challenges.
I’m trying to remember the exact moment I knew she was the one I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I do, however, firmly believe in the old adage “when you know, you know.” There was no doubt in my mind, not even for a second, that she was who I was meant to marry. I had interpreted feelings incorrectly too many times before to know that what I felt around her was truly love instead of something else.
I think it was more a combination of events that led to the decision to ask her to marry me. Not only did we spend a lot of time together, but I couldn’t stand it when we were apart. When I was going to school, she would come over and hang out on the couch, reading, while I studied or worked on a project. She didn’t have to, I didn’t really ask, but it was that level of comfort that defined how we were around each other.
I could be myself. I didn’t feel like I had to pretend to be anything other than who I was. I didn’t hold back on my quirkiness or my odd sense of humor (she puts up with it), or my thoughts about God and faith. We have the same morals and views on the world. We agreed from the beginning on important topics like how to raise children.
So many people say opposites attract. I disagree.
Opposites can be attractive, but so many people fall into that trap that it’s okay to disagree on things like faith. I’m not saying there aren’t marriages that don’t last a lifetime that have this viewpoint, but you’re not giving the relationship much of a chance.
I didn’t marry my wife to have arguments with her (they happen occasionally, sure – but mostly about petty things). I married her because she could be my refuge from the rest of the world. I want to be able to come home and know there is someone there who relates to exactly what I’m saying. And because I trust her unconditionally, she can help steer me back to center when I’ve gone off track. I believe she feels the same about me.
Why would I want to come home knowing that the conversation we were going to have was only going to challenge my viewpoints to the complete opposite direction? I need someone to agree with me sometimes. She’ll call me out when I’m wrong – she’s no “yes” woman – but I trust her because I know her heart is in the same place mine is in.
I’ll say it again. Opposites don’t attract. We have our differences, but they provide balance to our relationship. She’s more serious about things, and I’m a little goofier. I cook, she cleans. She’s a planner. I’m spontaneous. These things, however, are not fundamental differences in what we believe. These things are personality traits. Big difference.
We’ve only been married four years. Not a long time in the grand scheme of things, but I think we’re doing pretty well. I think we’ve figured out the secret. It’s pretty simple.
It starts with God. We prayed – together and separately – about our relationship. Actually, I’ve been praying for Becky since I was 10. My mom has been praying for my wife since the day I was born. It goes to show if you pray for 28 years for something, God’ll get tired of hearing about it, and just give it to you.
But seriously, once we started dating and things got more serious, we asked God to be in the center of our relationship. You can’t go wrong with God in the lead of it all. We still pray for His guidance and wisdom and for our marriage to be Christ-like.
We study. We read and worked through “Love and Respect.” There are tons of great books out there about marriage and relationships, and it doesn’t hurt to read one or two. Premarital counseling is also a good thing. We’ve read through more books since we’ve been married. Learning about relationships doesn’t end just because you’re in one.
We’re committed. We make a conscious decision to love each other every day. People weren’t kidding when they said marriage is work. We have to back up our “I love yous” with meaningful actions. What I do has to show her my love for her. I can’t ignore the relationship, and neither can she.
This deployment is certainly challenging our relationship. Not that anything has been bad, per se. It’s just that we are seeing if the foundation we’ve built our marriage on is solid. Like a weightlifter who carefully trains, the only way he gets stronger is put straining and tearing the muscles. He’ll be able to something others can’t because of the time he took to condition himself. That’s not unlike what we’re going through now. We’ll be stronger at the end of this ordeal.
We did, despite being apart, have a good anniversary. She sent me a wonderful photo and video montage of our children and a message from her at the end. I was sitting in my office here, crying. I don’t cry much. She put so much love into putting it together and it’ll be something I watch over and over for the months I’m out here. I sent flowers, of course. I also sent her a letter several weeks ago. It hasn’t arrived yet, but hopefully it’ll get there soon. We talked for a while on the phone too.
The real celebration will come when we’re together again. We’re going to celebrate all of the missed milestones and holidays. Like we do every anniversary, we’ll champagne toast our marriage then.
And, like the day she walked down that isle – beautiful as ever – I’m sure I’ll look at her and say,