Our marriage has had quite a few "if's."
Some rather insignificant, and others that take my breath away with the enormity of what could have been.
If I had left after that first horrible fight...
You know the one where we said things no one wants to hear, and we were certain we had married insensitive people.
If I had walked away after that 50th ridiculous argument...
The one where I sat in the car for several maddening minutes trying to figure out an easy way to make divorce a reality.
If I had bought into the lie that perfect marriages exist, and Prince Charming is a real person, I might have picked up and left you, my dear. Because you are real, and normal, and human. And so am I.
And, I have given you plenty of opportunities to give up on me, haven't I?
I wish you couldn't remember the many times I've given you the silent treatment. Probably for some ridiculous reason like we just weren't on the same page, and I wanted to make sure you knew I hadn't flipped over to your page number.
Or the times I looked at you with fiery eyes, and whispered, "Don't you even think about bringing that into this conversation." But then, I broke the rules and brought up the hurtful topic you would rather not discuss.
We should have known that it would be difficult. I mean, we were (are) two completely different people, with decided opinions, and a dose of stubbornness on the side.
Somehow we were operating in the understanding that once my last name matched yours, and our address was the same, that those silly fights would just melt away.
They didn't, did they?
And, then add on the idea that you still wanted to be a Pastor, even though I prayed that God would change His mind and direct you to be a high earning businessman. Why didn't He listen to me?
I'm so glad He didn't.
I have learned so much from this crazy journey of ours.
From the years you stood by your agoraphobic wife while serving as a Youth Pastor at our first church, to the time we packed up our house and two kids and moved to a church for $200 a week. How have we made it through all the difficult changes?
I think it's because after every knock down, drag out fight (and there have been many), we looked at each other and said, " I'm not going anywhere." "I still choose you."
I know Pastors and their wives are never supposed to admit that they have moments when they don't like each other very much.
And Pastor's wives probably aren't supposed to spit out the words "And you call yourself a man of God!!" either.
Through almost fifteen years of practice, we are finally getting the hang of fighting fair. That and we are realizing some things just aren't that big of a deal.
I've learned so much by walking faithfully by your side. I've experienced a whole lot of grace from you and God as we've worked through the tough places.
Thanks for not giving up on me... on us... on marriage.
Thanks for making more than a small effort to repair broken places, and for understanding when that process was messy.
I think of all the "what if's" and a contented smile comes over my face. This journey has been the hardest thing I've ever done, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
If the grass is greener where you water it, then I plan to keep the soil well drenched. I know I won't execute the care of our marriage with perfection, but I want you to know I'm on your side.
After I've gone through all the "if's" in my mind, I'm more confident than ever that with you is exactly where I want to be.
"If you're tired of starting over, stop giving up."