Worth It: Reflections on Twelve Years of Marriage

Vows

July 17th was Ben and my twelfth wedding anniversary. 14ish years together. I used to wonder if we’d make it. We will. Those couple of years that are supposed to have been the hardest: One year, three years, years seven to ten.   Check, check, check. You and I have heard this before but it warrants repeating: Marriage isn’t made for personal fulfillment, it is made to glorify God through bringing us into deeper love. We are partners in a marathon and the prize is better than anything we could ever imagine. Marriage under God is always worth it, incredibly challenging, but worth it.

almost 1 year later
Ben’s college graduation 9 months after our wedding.

Ben and I don’t believe in soul mates, we don’t believe in “the one”. The person you are married to is the one. Your one. Don’t look back. You just have to go all in.  This is your guy. Your gal. You are fused together now, two people united.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

 

 

a year and a half after our wedding
Another 9 months after Ben’s college graduation, entered Ophelia Grace.

Any couple married longer than six months who claims marriage is easy is either not paying attention or lying.  The last twelve years have been incredibly difficult work. We’ve fought, I may have thrown a couple things at him. I hurt him and he hurt me. We cry together, we ask for forgiveness, we reconcile. Then we love deeper and laugh together. We try to remember that God is the captain of this canoe. We move forward in faith. It will be worth it.

 

This month, Ben and I had the opportunity to go boating together, we kayaked and I felt the sun shine down on my bare skin and the wind whip my hair across my face. We sold our minivan and he bought me my dream truck:  a quad cab Dodge Ram 1500 which is, of course, lifted. We all fit into it and it sounds like a UPS truck coming down the street. It gives me butterflies in my belly. I named it Rogelio.

 

Then along came our second daughter
2 years after Ophelia was born, 1 surgery and 10 more months later, Mira Lorne joined us. 

On our anniversary day, Ben took me out for martinis and tapas before we went for a drive. I unbuckled as we drove deeper into the backwoods and hung out of the window. The branches and bushes and tall grass slapped my hand as we sped past. It stung, but it felt incredible — like freedom. Through the pain I laughed and hollered, nobody was around — an uncomfortable thrill. It was worth it.

 

 

Last weekend, Ben took me camping. We ate delicious food. We marinated New York steaks, made beer fondue, and soaked up minestrone with campfire toasted buns. We stared up at the stars together. There are so many stars in our Idaho sky. The longer you look, the more stars come into focus. God knows the name of each star, He crafted each one into beautiful and shiny glory. Take a deep breath in and blow it back out again. God loves us more. It will be worth it.

 

Next was our first son
Right after Mira turned 1, Jude Bennett made his presence known. 

July was the most fun we’ve both had in awhile. We still struggle, but we are learning to communicate better. I’m certain that there will always be something to challenge us.   We have been drawn closer in the midst tragedies, heartache, loss, sickness, trials, fears and tears of the last twelve years. We are better people for it. People who love God, one another and others more than ever.

 

We are so outnumbered now!  2012
And then Liam Daniel Baines surprised us when his big brother was only 7 months old.

I know now that joy, love, and fulfillment have absolutely nothing to do with where you are, what is happening, what you have and who you are with.

When marriage becomes overwhelming, something my therapist told me was to keep the milestones in view. Of course, glorifying God is the goal and all things are encompassed therein. But when the path isn’t clear and you feel like you are sinking – focus on the upcoming checkpoint.

It could be 1 year of marriage, 5 years of marriage, or 50 years of marriage. I’m working toward 20 right now and after that, my goal will be 30. My parents divorced after twenty-nine years and six children. I do get scared. But that is my parent’s story, it isn’t Ben’s and mine. Don’t compare your marriage. It isn’t supposed to be like anyone else’s. This is the story God wants to tell with your marriage, between you and your spouse.  I can’t tell you that there haven’t been days where my checkpoints were in 24-hour increments.  It’s not good for us to  live alone, and in marriage, sometimes you may feel alone, you may get your heart broken. Don’t get discouraged, you aren’t the only one. We all have problems.

We are happily in way over our heads with Carnahan kids.

· It really isn’t for better or for worse. It is when life is amazing and when it is agonizing.

· It isn’t for richer or poorer, it is when you have and when you have not.

· It shouldn’t be in a generic sickness. Try when you are sick, be it a stomach bug, hyperemesis gravidarum, or cancer.

To love and to cherish, to mourn with, to rejoice with, when you argue and when you reconcile, to forgive and faithfully point each other back to Christ until death separates you. That is the reality of marriage.  And when all is said and done, at the end of the day, or the decade or your last breath, you can have no regrets. None. After all of that.

God uses bad to create good. He binds up broken hearts and we will be made stronger. He takes our grief and turns it into a whirling dance. He takes shattered trust, selfish desires, misunderstanding and makes it all beautiful. This is His specialty.

It happens, it always does. I know because we’ve made it this far.July 17, 2016

 Ben and my story is not perfect, but it has been, is, and will always be, worth it. 

 

» Please note that not all marriages are under God. If your husband is violent with you, if he calls you names and demeans you, if he forces you to do things that are not honoring to God, please get help immediately. Call the police, call your pastor, call a friend. Sometimes a marriage can not be saved and under God, it must end in divorce. When that happens it is extremely painful, it may feel like the world is coming crashing down on you. But God has not forgotten. You are cherished, you are worth saving, worth protecting and worthy of love. He takes what is broken and makes you beautiful again. Where the ideal lacks, grace abounds. «

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