Seventeen years ago tomorrow in Fremont, CA, Dan and I began our lives together. Sometimes it is hard to believe that he has put up with me for so long! The things I have put that man through! And yet to his credit, he is still around. I am so honored to be his wife. When we first got married, we thought we had a lot in common. We both wanted to serve the Lord with our lives. We both liked to read. We both enjoyed Italian food. What else do we need?
As the years went by, the Lord showed us that merely wanting to do the same things and having similar tastes is just the start. Little by little, He wanted to start forming in us a new family that represented Him to our children, testified of His greatness, and embodied his love and grace to the world around us.
Sometimes the road was hard. We felt like we were going on divergent paths instead of the same ones. Part of the challenge is learning how to take our uniquenesses and not rate them good or bad, better or worse. They are just different. Part of marriage is learning how to accept those things that really don't matter in the long run, and work together on those that do.
One of the biggest things that has helped us is to come up with a mutually acceptable mission statement for our family. We had both written individual mission statements, but we had never written one together. So one weekend about 6 years ago, we sat down together and prayed, talked and wrote one out. Way out there? Maybe. But it has definitely helped us to set some parameters, surface our values and define our priorities.
For me, it was not the actual mission statement that really is all that important. It is the process of talking about and coming into an agreement on the core values in our lives that was. Honestly, I don't even remember it. So what's the point of doing this? So that when difficulties come or decisions need to be made, we have something to look back on.
Having a common mission and vision has helped me to remember that in hard times, we are on the same team! So often, I get stuck in the differences, the frustrations or the irritations that I forget that we are one. I forget and sometimes he feels like my enemy instead of my husband.
Instead of working against one another, I want to work with my husband. I want to see us growing more united as the years go by, instead of growing increasingly more divergent. But oneness, just like isolation, comes little by little, built slowly over time. I can either help move our marriage towards unity by remembering the big picture, or I can slowly erode the fabric of my marriage.
If it has been a long time since you and your husband have ever talked about "us", I encourage you to take some time to do so. Instead of just talking about your kids, take some time to talk about your relationship---what are you thankful for? Where do you want it to go? What do you dream of doing together? Otherwise, we may end up more like roommates than soulmates.
Happy anniversary, my beloved. I am looking forward to many more years together.