Lucky 13: A Post About My Husband

Husband

Husband

I can’t help myself. Every year, on or around my anniversary, I have to write a post about my husband. Because how else will the masses know how amazing he is unless I put it in writing and publish it on the world-wide web?

Today is our 13th wedding anniversary. Thirteen years married, and we’ve been together most of the last 15 years of our lives. I say most, because I broke up with him twice during our dating time. I haven’t always been the rock-solid, emotionally stable woman I am today. Ahem.

We’ve been through it all. We’ve been broke. There were tear stains in our first-ever checkbook register as a couple, because I was circling all the negative signs in front of the numbers when I would balance it. There were several stretches we couldn’t afford groceries, and ate creative meals of whatever we had available in the backs of our cupboards. I remember stocking up on Kool-Aid packets as a treat for us to drink with dinner, and halving the sugar. (which is probably a good idea, anyway.) We were poor. And angry. And hungry. And angry hungry.

We’ve moved furniture together. I don’t know how you were raised, but I witnessed my parents nearly end their marriage every time they had to help each other carry something in the house together. I used to laugh about it afterward, until I had to carry something and move it with Brent holding on to the other end. There is something about lifting heavy objects and moving them from one place to another (through a doorway for added difficulty) that sends all your love and admiration for one another to the deepest pits of the earth. Yet, somehow, we’ve stayed together.

We’ve been on the brink of divorce. Thank God Almighty we never acted upon those distressed, strained, distraught seasons in our marriage. Otherwise I wouldn’t be enjoying the fruit of our lives we have today. Marriage is hard. And no one prepares you for the reality of just how difficult living with another human being is. We have dealt with selfishness and sin on a level we never anticipated, and it nearly broke us up once and for all. Our God is bigger than us, though, and He’s bigger than our egos. He brought and kept us together, and if that isn’t proof He is still a God of miracles, I’m not sure what is.

We’ve buried a child. There aren’t enough words, nor is there enough time, to aptly describe everything we’ve been through as parents. We’ve had to hold one another up through the darkest, deepest sorrows life can throw at a person. Sometimes I feel guilty that he had to endure this because he married me. If he had married someone who was built for birthing children, his heart would never carry this pain. But he married me. And rational or not, it’s a guilt my head has to deal with from time to time. All of that aside, I can’t imagine having anyone else by my side. No one knows me more intimately, no one knows my heart, head, or hurt more accurately than my husband. I hate the fact we’ve had to walk through this at all, but I find comfort in having Brent as the one by my side each step of the way.

We’re not crazy romantics, and I’m sure the last time I gave Brent butterflies in his stomach was when I made dinner using konjac noodles and he nearly gagged to death. But we love each other with a commitment and resolve that took us 13 years to achieve. Each year our love will be different. Our lives will ebb and flow through good and bad, and we’ll adjust and learn and forge ahead. We don’t always like each other, and we’re not always thrilled to be in one another’s company. But we’d be devastated if our company had to part ways for any reason. We still argue. We still disagree. But we also still have fun, still kiss every morning, and still trust God to lead us in life and love until the rest of time.

I believe we serve a God who wants the very best for us, and who loves us more than anything. I believe God put Brent in my life as an act of that outright love. I couldn’t have picked a better person to spend the rest of my life with. I wouldn’t want to try. Brent is my one. Brent is my husband. For better, for worse. In good times, in bad. Till death do us part.

Happy Anniversary, Brent Ryan. I love you more than coffee.

Why We’ve Got Marriage All Wrong

We’ve got marriage all wrong, people.

With the recent SCOTUS ruling regarding same-sex marriage, all kinds of fires on all sides of the issue have been blazing around social media. I have too many thoughts and views on it to unpack in a single blog post, so I’m not going to do that now. One argument I’d like to address, however, is, “how dare you blame [homosexuals] for dissolving the sanctity of marriage, when you’re marching to court for your own divorce papers.”

Why We've Got Marriage All Wrong

Now before I go any further, allow me to be really explicit here. I’m going to talk about the Bible, I’m going to use scriptures from the New Testament, and I’m going to use these scriptures for my argument. I’m specifically addressing Bible-believing Christians. If you are a Bible-believing Christian, and you care the tiniest bit about why I agree we’re all a bunch of hypocrites, keep reading.

Matthew 19: 1 – 12

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others – and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

First of all, those who are saying Christians have themselves made a mockery of the sanctity of marriage, are right. We have. We’ve been doing so since the time of Moses, when our hearts were hard. And since, we’ve lost the passion to equip and prepare our young people for marriage. Their failure isn’t entirely their fault.

When Brent and I were married, in order to have our ceremony in the church we attended at the time, we were required to have premarital counseling there. This practice in and of itself is not uncommon. However, our premarital counseling was a joke. Even as we were going through it, we questioned what we were expected to accomplish.

We had a discussion on how finances are the number one cause of divorce among couples – but no discussion on how to address or manage finances as a couple. Just a warning. We had a discussion on what we loved about each other, but no discussion on how to nurture our love for one another – or even what it meant to love one another.

Here’s the deal. I broke up with Brent twice while we were dating. I also threatened to break off our engagement. I went to premarital counseling where I made a list of 10 things I “loved” about Brent, and was told to make sure we don’t divorce over finances.

I walked down the aisle and was not at all equipped to be a wife. Not even the littlest bit. And let me tell you, Brent was not at all equipped to be a husband.

The only thing we were equipped for was a party. (the wedding)

Church, we need to equip our young people for marriage. For relationships. For how to stay married, what it means to commit to one another, and what love really is. For how to fight fairly and in love. For how to flee from satan and his mission of marital demise.

When my husband married me, he never could have imagined the hell we’d walk through. He never could have predicted the acts of love he’d have to perform for no other reason than he’s my husband. I never could have prepared for the baggage we’d carry with us for years and have to unpack when it became too heavy to keep lugging around.

Except we could have! We could have imagined and prepared for dealing with and coping through all of it, had we been given the proper counsel, guidance, and support.

I’ve said for years to people I know who are getting married: prepare yourself for the marriage, not the wedding. One is a ceremony that lasts a day, yet it seems to acquire all of our attention. The other is a commitment made for a lifetime, but ends up neglected.

Living together is not how you prepare for marriage. Sleeping together is not how you prepare for marriage. Marrying with the understanding if it doesn’t work out you can just get a divorce, is not preparation for marriage.

From the beginning, as Jesus said, it was God’s intention for married couples to stay married. As a society, we’ve put a lot of emphasis on the ceremony, the dress, the reception, the DJ….but too little on the relationship beyond the pictures and the pretty flowers.

Marriage is hard. Relationships are hard. Two individuals becoming one flesh is incredibly challenging. It should break your heart Christians are getting divorced. Having Affairs. Abandoning vows. Families. It should break your heart marriages are failing. It should break your heart it’s become a mockery to speak of the sanctity of marriage. And it should move our hearts to do something about it.

If we’re not raising our Christian kids to have a relationship with God, if we’re not raising our kids to show them marriages are worth the covenant they were created for, and if we’re not raising our kids to understand “I do” means “forever”, then we’re raising them to fail in their marriages.

Brent and I experienced some full-out grace. We weren’t equipped to be married, and by a miracle of all miracles, we never went to sign on the dotted line in a lawyer’s office to do away with it all. We made vows. Promises. We’ve learned what our relationship means, who we are to one another, how God feels about husbands and wives, and how truly sacred marriage is.

Don’t get married unless you mean it. Don’t think you mean it until you can prove you understand what it means. Seek counsel. Seek guidance. Seek support. Then pray like your future depends on it! Because I’ve got news for you: it does.

Church, let’s move on this and equip our kids for marriage. Let’s arm ourselves with truth and sincerity, trust God to repair our broken hearts and broken relationships, and let’s get out there and put the covenant back between husband and wife.

Broken Together: My Husband Does Not Complete Me

Twelve years we’ve been married. Twelve years. Well, not yet, but in another couple of months. I was going to save this post for our anniversary, but I’m kind of an impatient person.

A lot of people lost bets after we made it past the five year mark. We struggled mightily through year six. And seven. (and year one, and two, and…) And here we are, year 12. We’ve been together (more or less) for the last 14 years. That’s a long time when you’re as young and care-free as I am. And I’m pretty young. Like…pretty young. In my heart.

I’m madly in love with my husband. He makes me laugh. He pretty much cracks me up. A lot. He holds me when I’m feeling down. He hugs me for no reason. He compliments my cooking. And my outfits. He gives me butterflies in my stomach. Either because he makes me giddy, or irate. We shuffle between those two reasons from time to time. He’s super handsome, has a million dollar smile, and big strong arms. He was the only person I wanted by my side, every minute, after we lost Harlynn. I could not have survived life after losing her without him. My husband, in my eyes, is kind of a big deal.

I love my husband more than I thought I could love any man. Ever.

But he does not complete me.

Wonderful as he is, my husband has flaws. He has shortcomings. He disappoints me from time to time. We argue. We disagree. We have bouts of intense fellowship. He screws up. He makes mistakes. He’s even wrong once in a while.

If I, as a greatly flawed individual trust that another greatly flawed individual will complete me, my hopes in that “you complete me” junk will leave me nothing more than a sour taste of brutal disappointment.

Brent is a smart guy. Really smart. Sometimes he’s so smart it makes me angry. Like when we’re arguing about something and he’s so busy making so much sense with his smartness, he doesn’t understand that I just need a hug and some M&Ms.; He’s smart enough to know, though, that he cannot complete me. Nor does he want to even try. Can you imagine the burden of that responsibility? The overwhelming pressure and expectation of first, finding all my faults and flaws and then working overtime to compensate for those – all for me? Forget about fixing yourself or having any issues – you have to complete ME. My needs. My shortcomings. You have to make up the difference in whatever I lack.

No way. No. Way.

 
Relationships aren’t easy. They aren’t even romantic. There are sometimes, romantic things that happen within a relationship, but the relationship itself is not romantic. It’s messy. And confusing. And a lot of work to maintain. You can take a walk in the park, which might be romantic, but you can’t expect your relationship to function as if it, as its own entity, were a walk in the park. Come back down to earth here for a minute.

Brent and I have been together for a long time. I know he isn’t perfect (no matter how close he may come at times.) We all know I’m not perfect. Both Brent and I know, appreciate, and understand that neither of us could complete the other. Please tell me you understand the same regarding your relationship?

There is only One perfect being – that being Jesus Christ – who could complete us. Yet we struggle so often when others disappoint us. When others let us down. Because they should love us enough to know better. They should have known how their words or actions would affect us. They’re supposed to be our other (or better) half. Without this person, I am only half the person I would have been before I realized I needed another half a person to spend my time with.

Wait, what?

You’ve heard it said before that marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100. If two people each buy half a sandwich and mush them together, they don’t have a whole sandwich. They still have two halves of sandwiches. If you’re an incomplete person, mushing yourself together with another person isn’t going to make a whole person. It’s going to make your life complicated and insane and you’re gonna have to understand a thing or two about communication, fighting fair, and what it means to commit. You can’t just go mushing around with people expecting to be made whole. Stop the mushing.

There is going to be so much hurt, heartache, and suffering that you’ll endure in life. Don’t expect another person to complete you – in those times especially – but choose wisely who you’ll allow to carry your heart for you in those moments when you can’t. Choose who you’ll want by your side when the only thing you see is pain. Choose who you’ll allow to see you in your most vulnerable moments, and who will help you – not live for you, but help you – come out the other side of that tunnel. And if you have your person, stop expecting them to do the completing for you. Meet them in the middle. As much as you need support and understanding, they need twice as much. Well, Brent needs twice as much, because he’s stuck with me.

I love my husband. I would fight, die, and haunt someone for him. He has some weird different habits, and he doesn’t do everything the way I do. He raps in his sleep. (Okay, it was one time, but it was hilarious.) He knows too much about things other than how to not shrink my brand new shirts. But I love him. To the moon and back. To the ends of the earth. I would eat a mushroom for him. *shudder* But he does not complete me.

This song – this awesome, captivating, amazing song – makes me cry. Of course, a lot of things make me cry. But listen to this song. And keep a tissue nearby just in case.

Brent and I are both broken people. That’s why we have Jesus. And because we have Jesus, we’re able to hold on tighter to each other. Loving Jesus together completes our marriage. Our family. Not because of anything we do on our own. But because of everything we’re able to do through Him.