April 29th, 2006 was a gorgeous day. The sky was clear, the air was cool. Why do I recall this day so well? It was my wedding day 11 years ago. 11 years ago I married the love of my life. This guy is the greatest, sweetest, most awesome man EVER!!

When we met, 16 years ago I was a “nomad without a homeland.” I did what I wanted, when I wanted, with whoever I wanted. I would come and go, as I pleased. I worked, I partied, I went to school, I had fun with friends. And then I laid eyes on him and my life changed, right then and there.

So our love story began in my friends house in NY the summer of 2001 after our freshman year of college(at least his freshman year, my credits were questionable at that point). Long story short, ready? My friend R met his friend K at UMass. R and K became friends and decided to room together sophomore year. K came to visit R on a long bus ride from Boston to NYC. K brought a friend along for the ride, her friend, my future husband. When I walked into R’s house and saw him, I had the butterflies in my belly, weak at the knees, every cliché there ever was, I became. I knew at that moment that my life was about to get flipped upside down.

And it did. Two nights in a row, I stayed at R’s house. Two nights in a row, hubby and I stayed up well into the morning hours talking about everything. You know those days when you are getting to know someone and there is so much to talk about that you talk all night and can’t believe you just stayed up all night but didn’t even make a dent in your life story that is only 19 years at this point? I got two of those nights in a row! And then, he was gone. Want to know what an independent bad@$$ I was? He tried to give me his phone number and I refused to take it. I gave him mine and pretty much said, “it’s all in your court.” I can’t believe I did that. I know exactly why I did that, but I still can’t believe I did. Why did I? Because right before I met him, I promised myself that I would start getting serious about school and about my future. I had went out with too many losers and partied a bit too much. After we met, I knew that this was going to mess with the promise I made to myself. So I left it up to him.

Obviously, he called me. And so began our beautiful relationship. It’s funny because all those others who weren’t the one, kept me from my goals, kept me from being my best self and because of that I could have let him go. But he wasn’t like the others. He encouraged me, listened to my thoughts, shared my dreams, and made me want to be a better person.

Now here we are after 11 years of marriage and I’m so thankful that God brought me this man. God’s plans are so much better than mine, ALL THE TIME!! There are so many things I have learned about myself, about my husband, about life, about God, and about marriage

*Marriage is not designed to make us happy, it is designed to make us holy. God has a beautiful plan for marriage and it is to bring glory to Him. It is not about ME ME ME. And the times where I get lost in the ME ME ME mentality are the times when our relationship suffers. Marriage is uniting two people to become one. When we make decisions they are for 2 and we have to consider how our decisions, our words, our day to day affects one another.

*With that being said, marriage is hard!! People are born selfish! We want what we want when we want it! You have to work for your marriage. Just because you already know everything about each other doesn’t mean that you just sail through life like two ships passing in the night. You need to remember likes and dislikes. Serve one another, surprise one another. TALK TO EACH OTHER. Love each other.

*It really wasn’t until I performed a wedding ceremony for 2 dear friends, one of them being my bff in the 2nd grade that I really began to understand what marriage means. I recall sitting down on my couch with my bible and laptop researching how to write a wedding ceremony. I learned the order of the ceremony, the symbolism of the rings and the unity candles, and the most popular scripture readings read at weddings. Coming from a broken home, I knew in my heart that marriage is supposed to be forever, but I don’t think I realized the seriousness of this commitment. Wedding vows are promises that you make to your spouse and God, a covenant. Rings being a symbol of this promise that should not be broken. The unity candle, representing 2 separate lives being joined together as 1, to share 1 life together. Unfortunately, our society has made marriage to be easily disposable. Don’t misunderstand, what I am saying, there are reasons, valid reasons for divorce, but falling out of love is not one of them, because another thing that marriage has taught me is that love is active, a choice that we have to make every day. Even when we are lonely, overworked or overwhelmed. I know that God gave me my partner in life to cherish, not just in the good times, but in the bad times too. So all those words about in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, til death do us part, are so much more than just words. Because before “I do” things can be fun and light, but after the “I do” life happens, real life. Families join together, people get sick, babies are born, jobs change, there are moves, finances to manage, and so many other things. And for better or worse means not walking away when the going gets tough. In 11 years of marriage my husband and I have both lost a parent to cancer, have moved 2 times, my husband has been through schooling, job change, more schooling, I have struggled with an adrenal fatigue diagnosis for several years, we have had 3 great kids which was 3 C-sections for my body, and also had the pain of losing one very early on due to a miscarriage. This is life. I am so blessed to have my husband by my side through all of the ups and downs.

Recently when I was thinking about our anniversary and how we have been together for 16 years, I couldn’t wrap my head around what my husband saw in me back then. I was such a lost girl, floating around from place to place, getting into trouble, and the complete opposite of him. And then I thought about our marriage and  I  couldn’t wrap my head around how he can love me all the time. Sometimes, I’m not a nice person. I can be selfish, emotional, rude, angry, etc etc. But despite all of these things, he loves me anyway. He loves me with  an unconditional love. And the only explanation I have for that is that it is a gift from God, His grace and mercy.

When we were out on our anniversary, my husband asked me, if I could change anything about the last 16 years what would it be. I could think of several things that I would like to change about the past, but I wouldn’t choose any of them. I know that things that have happened, the trials, have changed me. They have grown me into a stronger person, a better person. The book of James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

My life, my marriage is not perfect, it never will be. But I would like to call it a work in progress. Because it is an act of love to be married. If you are struggling, you are not alone. If you are lonely, you are not alone. If you are happy, if you are content, you are not alone. Talk to your spouse, talk to a friend who can give you good advice, talk to God and look in the Bible. Whatever the circumstance you are in right now, don’t give up, keep at it. God’s plans for your life are so much better than the plans you have for yourself.

Some verses to consider:

“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3: 12-14

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8