4 Things :: 4 Years of Marriage


We're several steps into our 5th year of marriage. Recently, I remembered that I had yet to write this post. It's mostly a post just for me; I like looking to see what changes from year to year specifically regarding our marriage. I'm just a reflection kind of gal. So, 'better late than never' this post is getting published.

Now, if you have read previous posts, you'd realize I tend to write 10+ things. Perhaps it's because I've grown less talkative as my toddler drains all my words from my soul (ha!), or perhaps  I just realize I really don't have quite the clue that I thought I did. I figure I'd keep it simple and to the point this time around. Also, I like to think I'd be far more interested in a list of 30 things I've learned once I've already been married for 30 years rather than reading 10 things every year. So, four things it is.

This is stuff I'm learning, not stuff we've necessarily accomplished. As my friend Anna has written in her blog, these are lessons, not 'lesson's learned.' We've gotten to taste and become familiar with these four things in the past years, for that I'm grateful.

1. Grief is one of the great agents in revealing a couple. 

I've written about it plenty on this blog, but this past year was filled with grief and struggle. The grief we have faced changed us, or as John Green writes in The Fault in our Stars, it 'revealed us.' I think it does both. Ben has commented how there were times when he was really scared for me-the state of my heart was uncertain several times this year. I was scared for me, and I was scared for us. We fought through a lot of grief and a lot of reshaping of who we were on the other side of it. We look different in our hearts than we did before. We're softer versions. We're quicker to close our mouths and move our feet towards. I know grief can destroy a marriage. I'm grateful it solidified us.

While I would rather marriages not have to face grief, I'm quite certain every marriage does. Some sooner, some later. Grief is often associated with death of  a person, but I'm learning it sometimes is death of internal things. Dreams not realized, a diagnosis given, a door shut, through these things we grieve. My hope is that as we face grief again (and it's most certain we will) that I'll have the forethought to know that even in this, there's a strength and joy that can be found, especially as we journey through it together. Even if it is just celebrating the day that there are more chuckles than tears.

2. Change and waiting for change is really hard.

It's both the most constraining and freeing feeling in the world when one can't control their circumstances. For the bulk of last year we waited for news of Finland. Then when we got word back in February, we packed up shop and moved over here. Here we're facing the giant change we prayed constantly for. I think Ben is doing better with transitioning than I am, but we're working through it. I see us morph into something new even in this.

While sometimes I just want to get to the other side, I'm learning that walking through is often the best way out. Also, It's really easy to get the change we want, realize it's not the savior I was hoping for, and begin shaping the next thing I really want. Jesus is the only Satisfying savior. Us moving back stateside to the land of target and Costco and all my beloved friendships isn't going to save my heart from the deep loneliness it aches of. Sorting through all this stuff has been the longer struggle of this season. It's a humbling thing when prayers are answered that got us here, and now I'm praying to get us through. We haven't figured it out yet, but that's where we were in this 4th/5th year of marriage.

and thats okay.

3. Grace is the greatest of motivators, and in the same breath the best way to let things be.

If there's anything that the past several years has taught me, it's that Grace trumps all. Grace isn't lazy and it certainly isn't silent. I think because it's so powerful, it's also greatly misunderstood. Now I don't pretend to have a grasp, (or even a more-than-less understanding of the concept,) but I do understand the way it's showed up in our marriage.  I've experienced Grace and have learned that one characteristic of it is the way it is a great change agent-and always for the better. When I want to point my finger, it's the very thing that reminds me of the way Ben has full rights to point his. On the flip side, it's the very thing that motivates Ben, who is a natural pleaser, to speak the hard truth to me when he sees me going to a place he knows I don't want to go.

It's also the thing that allows him to commend me on bravery for telling truth, even when that truth is about sin against him. It's strength in the most softest of ways and I am humbled and awed every time I see it in our marriage.  If everything leaves us, I hope that grace stays.

4. Surviving circumstances while still loving, respecting and enjoying each other is one of life's great feats. That alone is worth celebrating.

We've reached the dreaded threshold where the marriages of some of our friends are now ending. Every year we find out a few more friends are parting ways. It's heartbreaking. It's humbling. We realize how hard marriage is and after walking along side friends who face that heartbreak, I'm not one to pride myself on how awesome we are at marriage. I know that we're just a few steps away from that same heartbreak. Every one is. As our Pastor stateside says, "I'm just three steps away from his situation." Be it bad circumstances, or poor decisions, I'm far too aware of how quickly I sin against Ben, and how often we find ourselves in situations that strain us. Life gives a lot of opportunities to destroy a couple, surviving though gives us reason to celebrate.

So, in times when it all feels like it's falling apart, which in the past few years, we've had a handful of those moments, I remember that thriving in a marriage often takes one-step-in-front-of-the-other surviving circumstances together. After setting down my pride and admitting I really don't know how to really make it through,  the grace has been found to put the helmet on, pat my man on the behind and pray hard through the storm that's starting.

I think I'm learning that there are quite simply hard seasons. There are less than stellar seasons and there are really great ones. We're in a hard one. The other day I was lamenting of the fatigue and struggle that I'm going through with all this stuff (Pregnancy, toddler hood, new country, lack of community, language barriers). I desperately revealed how scared I am of not making it out of this any time soon. When Ben commented (after a whole lot of other good words) 'it's just a season, babe" I challenged it with telling him it may be a very, very long one, like, years. His response of  "well, even if it's for 2-3, it's still just a season," calmed my heart. He's willing to see this through.

That man has come home every night and helped me work through my tears and hormones and long monologues of toddler woes and isolation. For him to declare it 'only a season' proves that grace is strong and mighty. And that God is gracious to this woman, especially in hard times.

I'm grateful to get to be paired with him.

All that to say, making it through life with another person is hard work. I'm glad to be able to celebrate the years of ease and the years of struggle. When I'm sitting across the table from that green-gray eyed man with his warm laugh and quick wit, it makes my heart praise God that grace found it's way into this house and has carried us through grief, through adventure and change, and through the long struggle of waiting. It's carrying us through  even now.


The best is yet to come.

Cheers to getting to live in our 5th year of marriage, Ben Sprague. We, like, have a bachelors degree now (or at the very least, we're in our second senior year!)

I'm excited for the way we look at each other after we've weathered through a lifetime. Our story is turning out to be a rather ridiculous, albeit adventurous one.

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