I looked at Jeremy as he was driving and noticed the faint lines etched in his handsome face.
I asked him: Had all been worth it? If we had waited a bit longer to get to know ourselves and mature before getting married, would it have been easier?
I am not typically a very good listener so I very intentionally shut my yapper and waited for his response. Jeremy thought for a few moments before answering my questions (He is really good at thinking before he speaks, something I have to keep working on).
His answer was a testament to the awesome man I married.
“Autumn, getting older does not necessarily make you wiser unless you are actively seeking out growth and maturity. Marriage kind of forces you to choose. Am I going to grow with and learn from you or am I going to stay the way I am? Growth does not happen unless when we are faced with adversity we choose to learn from it. We might fail big time. But, that’s allowed. We get to learn from each other and we get to learn about ourselves…”
My husband Jeremy and I were able to get away for an overnight a couple of weekends ago. My very generous in-laws offered to take care of our three little monkeys and it was a gift to get away on our own. We stayed at a bed and breakfast in a lake-side town, and the drive to and from our destination provided some much needed time of uninterrupted conversation and connection. I had been wrestling with an aspect of our marriage and was curious to hear Jeremy’s thoughts on the topic.
We married in our very early twenties. I had been thinking about all that we had been working through as a couple in the past seven years together. We have had our share of struggles, and we have been working through difficulties brought about by our differences in personality and background. I had been thinking about how we had children right away after getting married and the joys and challenges of raising a family together.
Every marriage is unique in its joys and challenges. For us, choosing to marry young was a choice to “grow up” together. I remember having a clarity and peace as I walked down the aisle toward Jeremy. I remember saying to myself, “I am walking towards good,” and I only saw him and the altar. We chose each other on April 18th, 2009 with our eyes as wide open as we could. We were intentional. We had sought the wisdom of older and wiser couples that we knew and respected during our dating and engagement relationship, and we knew that it wasn’t going to be sunsets and candle lit dinners all the time. We felt as prepared as we could and we dove in.
Our marriage has been a humbling and powerful experience of recognizing our own flaws, and being willing to look to the other to recognize each other’s strengths and learn from them. We can choose to help each other grow in love.
For example, I can be very moody and allow whatever I am thinking or feeling to effect Jeremy, my children, and those around me. Sometimes, I choose according to my feelings. This is an area of my life that I want to improve because it doesn’t help me to love my family well. While my feelings are important and valid I get to choose how I let them impact my choices. Jeremy has great maturity in this area.
While we were away on our weekend together, he had an infection in his finger and it was really bothering him. While he could have (understandably) complained the whole weekend about it and let the vulnerability of pain impact the quality of our time together, Jeremy rarely commented on it. I had to ask him if he was in pain. He would mention that he was and then carry on with our fun together with a smile on his face. We had a great time together and he got his finger treated when we got home.
The way he handled that situation made an impression on me and encouraged me to keep working on effectively experiencing my own feelings and emotions. This is just a small example of many lessons embedded in the details of our daily life as a married couple.
As Jeremy said, sometimes we fail to rise to the opportunities to grow in love for each other and we have to come back and ask for forgiveness. I have seen Jeremy at his worst. He has seen me at mine, and yet we go on choosing each other because it is worth it.
We have had the privilege of “growing up” with each other and we get a little more graceful at recovering and learning from our mistakes everyday. I think this is important. There are good times and there are hard times in our marriage. I think there should always be GROWTH- together and individually.
As Jeremy said, “ We get to learn from each other and about ourselves.” Choosing to respond to these opportunities to love each other gives our marriage richness. I am so grateful to have married young and to continually be “growing up” with Jeremy.