The Sweetness of 11 Years of Marriage

"I know who you are. You’re amazing. You’re beautiful. You’re breathtaking."

There are only a few moments in life where you truly know anything. The rest of your time is spent in vast areas of grey, tumbling along just hoping to get things right.

The moments we are certain of life are the sweetest. They’re the moments we’re fully satisfied, our appetites fully without want.

My biggest moment of clarity, of sweet satisfaction, came on January 19, 2002.

First you should know that I’ve always been a writer. My writing often has centered around what was most important to me at whatever time I scribbled words on paper. Rarely has it been good writing, but always it has been honest.

As a gift one Christmas in my teen years, my sister gave me a journal. Not just any journal, but one specific for my future wife. I had no idea at the time who that woman might be, but I would spend time writing to her over the next several years.

Through a mutual friend in college, I met Kathryn Moody one winter night in the middle of studying for a western civilization exam. My friend invited me to go with him and Kathryn to Waffle House. It was over cheap coffee and monotonous jukebox music that we clicked.

The next day, Kathryn left to go home for Christmas break. I wouldn’t see her again for about four weeks. It would be January 12 of 2002 that we would have our first “date”, one spent bowling with friends, hanging out on the beach with friends, and staying up all night to watch the sunrise at Sullivan’s Island in Charleston.

A week later is when I realized what was happening. Exactly a week later I faced my own moment of sweet clarity, one of joyous anticipation. After spending time with Kathryn that night, I pulled out the wife journal and wrote this:

"I know who you are. You’re amazing. You’re beautiful. You’re breathtaking."

That special woman, the one I was writing to for years, was here. She may not have known it at the time (I’m pretty sure she didn’t) but I did. I knew Kathryn Moody would be the one I would marry and spend the rest of my life with. 

We got serious fast in part because I believe God knew we were going to be husband and wife and there was no need in delaying things. On our three month mark of dating, I gave her this poem:

"First Day of Forever"

I’ve stepped back and observed myself.

When I’m with you, my world is on fire.

My heart is like a child’s playground

and there you are, care-free in the swings.

Even now in our twenties we throw

smiles aimlessly. In our minds

we picture the perfection before us:

two rings creating one forever.

Then that morning comes when you wake up

beside me, and I’ll brush the hair

back from your face. The gold cross

now around your neck. The same sparkle

still in your eyes. Love still lingers

on your lips. I taste it with your kiss.

Peeling back the covers like

unfolding beauty because

there you are, looking at me,

and without a word I know

forever begins today.

When I said that I knew, I meant it. I knew I would marry Kathryn. I knew that that first day as husband and wife would be our “first day of forever”. When you read the poem you understand why, on our 6 month anniversary, I proposed to her on one knee in a playground beside the swings.

Today we celebrate 11 years of marriage. That’s more than a decade. That’s four years longer than the average marriage lasts. 

This isn’t to pretend that our marriage has been all roses. We’ve had the fights, cold shoulders, shouting across the house blowups. We’ve been through moments we wanted to leave and never come back. We’ve gone through the doubts of wondering if we really were meant for each other.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from marriage, it’s this: it forces you to grow up. It takes two worlds and through a fancy ceremony and some sacred words, those worlds collide. Our reaction to the collision is what matters.

Marriage makes you think of someone other than yourself. Yes, it’s getting to hang out with your best friend all day, but it bears more burdens than that. It’s caring for one another in ways you’ve only cared for yourself. Its loving things you’ve never loved before. It’s breaking barriers emotionally and physically you’ve held for a long time.

Marriage is a love that’s beyond the youthful lusts of the world. Marriage cuts deep and grows deep. We can tell this from experience. It is never, ever easy. Love never is. If love was easy, Jesus didn’t die on a cross. Because of this, we can persevere through the trials marriage brings.

For us, marriage is talking for hours about the future. Marriage is laundry and cutting grass. Marriage is paying bills. Marriage is intimacy in thought, heart, and body that is shared with only one person for the rest of your life.

For us, marriage has been screaming and harsh words. Marriage has been deep prayer over financial difficulties. Marriage is wondering how we can bring a child into a one bedroom apartment less than a year from being married. Marriage is holding hands in the midst of confusion during a miscarriage.

For us, marriage has been romantic road trips and lazy Saturdays. Marriage has been glasses of wine and Mario Kart. Marriage has been hugs and smiles and sweet kisses. Marriage has been new jobs and new homes and two little precious children to share our lives with.

Marriage is a moment. It’s a long moment of clarity filled with small moments of doubt, caution, confusion, and hurt. But it’s a moment where you know that this is for life. This is a commitment we cannot let go of. Even if we feel sometimes it lets go of us. 

If you’re married, find your moment. Matthew West sings a song that say “go back to the moment of truth”. That moment you knew the love of your life was just that. Hold on strong to that promise you made. 

11 years later, I’ve never been happier to hold strong to mine.