Fifteen years ago, I woke up after a mostly sleepless night. I was excited about what would easily become one of the best days of my life. It had been a late night… In fact, I had hopped into a red convertible Corvette with my soon to be husband late the night before. We had taken a short drive away from all the family staying in the dorm I oversaw. And we found ourselves dancing under the streetlights in a parking lot next to the Campbell University football field.
People might think that was romantic. Or they may think that was a silly way to spend the night before our wedding when dozens of people were in town to spend time with us. But Ben knew that even after hours of lessons preparing for our first dance, I was still nervous to dance in front of our family and friends. And he wanted to make sure I woke up on our wedding day without a single worry in my head.
I forgot about that moment until last night. I lay in bed alone, remembering back to the night before that memorable day. A night when I saw all that I had dreamed of finally coming to fruition.
Today would have marked 15 years of marriage to the first person I ever loved. 15 years of learning about life, love, and each other. 15 years of parenting and growing our family together. Years that weren’t perfect, but where we continued to choose each other despite everything we faced.
Today is my anniversary… but at the same time, it’s not. Because we only got 11 years of marriage to learn and grow together. We only got to prove to the world that we could do it all for 11 short years.
I learned a lot in those 11 years… and even more in the four years since that relationship unexpectedly ended. And this is what I know:
- Marriage is hard work. In 2014, I blogged about how there was no title that I ever worked as hard for as Mrs. I had not forgotten about earning my doctorate, but I knew that I was going to spend every day for the rest of my life working hard as a wife.
- Marriage is worth it. I have not forgotten the hard moments of marriage. The moments when you both must fight in order to keep on moving forward together. When it feels like the world is imploding around you. It does not matter how much work it is, it is worth it. It is worth it to know that you get to wake up every day next to the love of your life until the end of time.
- Life is short. This is probably the most cliché, but it is also the best advice I can give to anyone in a relationship. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. In fact, today may not be either. Do not waste a single minute. Love big, embrace the ones you love, and enjoy every second with them.
If you are one of the lucky few who have gotten to spend more than a decade with the one you love, I applaud you. I envy you. I wish I was you. I will likely shed a tear or two hearing about your 25th and 50th anniversary knowing that I will be old and gray before those celebrations will be on my radar again.
But I will also cheer louder and harder for you then anyone else. And I will thank God that He allowed you all to make it to that point… because marriage is hard, and while it is worth it, not everyone makes it to that point.
So here is my advice to you: Cling to those you love, remember that life is short, and celebrate every little milestone the two of you reach together. It is worth it.
Today I’m remembering moonlight dances, cheesecake, and wedding vows. And missing the man I thought I would spend the rest of my life working hard to deserve. Happy 15th Anniversary in Heaven, my love! Love you, Mean it!