Sunday, May 5, 2013

4 Things I've learned in (4) Years of Marriage

We turned 4 this week, that stocky, singing and opinionated child called "becca/chris".  I may not have a degree as if this was four years of college, but I've put in my hours and learned a few things.

1. Committment is scary.  I thought after getting married the anxiety beneath such a life-long choice would flee with the wedding kiss.  The deeper we put down our roots, the more permanent our home becomes, the more children we have and boxes we unpack together - the more woundable we become. That's how is goes.  Tomorrow feels a wild thing, so unknown and foreboding, I occasionally wonder if we're cut out for children at all, although it's a little late I admit.  We bare our souls to each other talking about having another baby someday, or maybe not.  Is it best to bring a whole new person in this world when we've got our hands full as it is?  The more I love Chris, the more webbed together our lives become in every single dimension.  The thought of losing him, to death or divorce, soon or after many, many years is still one of my darkest thoughts.  This clinging of my life to his, while a beautiful sacrament, it's also terrifying and irrational. To put yourself in that place, to love someone who is not immortal and to face the possiblity of life on earth without them is a challenging thing.  There are no limits to God's grace in the world and God's ability to bring new life from suffering soil but I want to grow very, very old with my husband.  And there are no guarantees that we'll do that. The risks of love haven't gone away for us yet.

People think commitment is scary because it is scary.  But it's the best kind of scary that I know.

2. I'm broken and so is he.  I thought I was a fairly stable and capable person until I got married.  I can blame it on hormones and babies close together and living far from family support and having to share everything with a *boy* but I'm still responsible for my words and actions.  I've never sworn (under my breath) so much as I do now that I have two toddlers and a husband.  I find life EXTREMELY challenging some moments and I struggle with outbursts of anger and frustration which usually are targeted at my husband.  Sometimes it becomes an argument, sometimes he just welcomes me into his arms, sometimes he makes me laugh.  But always he shows me that I am loved and I try my best to reciprocate that truth.  (I know this is not everyone's experience and some have had spouses who've walked away, or maybe you've needed to walk away from your spouse, for your own emotional or physical safety.  In our marriage there isn't abuse, but there is ugliness sometimes and when it's met with relentless affection and acceptance, we have power to change.)

3. "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you" are hard to say.  This was the biggest shock of my life I think, how hard it can be to say I'm sorry to the one person in the whole world that I've completely chosen.  I have so many relationships that I've been born into, or stumbled upon, or been assigned to–but this long-distance love turned into a marriage–I really had a sense of choosing it.  And still it is so unbelievably hard to even mumble the humbling words that can turn raging water into dry land.  It always feels nearly impossible, when there is hurt and hard feelings.  And that nearly impossible gift is the only way forward, every single time.

4.  No matter what happens, we are never alone.  We thought our marriage started off pretty rough after we became pregnant and lost our baby within the first few months we were together.  Then there was a move across the country and a huge shift in identity and occupation, a surprise baby in the midst of grief and uncertainty who ripped open our sense of vulnerability with his intense (and normal) need for us.  Then another baby came right on his tail and a risky visa process (which we were granted this week!) and the everyday stresses of two toddlers and not a lot of money.  It's been hard, and this is good stuff, the things I dreamed of for many years.  Somehow it still challenges the dimensions of my capacity right off the edge, it seems.

Who knows what awaits us in the next four or ten or twenty years.  I'm hopeful, but life is precious and vulnerable and the only guarantee is that God will be with us, but not that this or that will or won't happen to us.  That's where my faith is, with an omni-resourceful God who helps us write redemption in the darkest places.  We are not adrift in a wild ocean alone, though it feels that way sometimes.  All the chaotic waters in this whole world will be channeled into a river of healing and life.  We are held perfectly in God's steadfast love–it's not a love that dictates or controls or coerces, but a love that runs alongside, imagines and re-imagines and has so many back-up plans for us and the whole world.  Even if things get bad for us, we are not alone.  We're not ever alone.


  1. I love you guys. You are so brave and honest and have such a lovely family. -k

  2. Thanks for your honesty! That is so what I needed to hear today. Marriage is crazy hard/amazing, and kids are so precious/difficult. But we will make it through somehow...not quite sure how some days!