The Choices We Make

weddingEight years. It was a cold and drizzly day in March 2009 when we said I do, and now we’re closing in on a decade of married life. I thought Jon wasn’t ever going to propose, you know. We’d been dating for five years, and he’d finally finished college. Everyone had me convinced I was getting a ring for Christmas. Instead, he got me a dress and I spent Christmas Day night in tears, asking him when he was going to marry me already. (I have never claimed to be the charming one.)

Five months later, he did indeed ask me to be his wife, on a dark beach in Charleston with the waves crashing in the background. So dark, in fact, that I couldn’t see my ring until we got back to the house. (This was before things like iPhones that doubled as flashlights when you needed to see in the dark.)

I learned then that he can’t be rushed. He will make a decision when he’s good and ready to make one, and no amount of impatience or pushiness or, frankly, childish foot stomping on my part is going to nudge him forward. Or rather, I should have learned it then. But like most important lessons, I have to hear them more than once before they sink in.

When we did our marriage counseling, we received one piece of advice that I’ve clung to for eight years. After talking with us for only a short time, our pastor noted how opposite Jon and I are. It’s true — we share almost no personality traits in common.

First, he told us the good news: marriages between opposites can be the strongest, most enduring types of marriages. Then, he lowered the boom. The key, he said, was to never resent the other for not being “more like me” and also to not try and change ourselves too much to mirror the other person.

Did you catch that? Resentment is the enemy of a strong marriage. The antidote to resentment? I’m not sure, but I think it starts with choosing to take care of each other, instead of ourselves.

So I’ll keep making Jon’s breakfasts and coffee in the morning, because he moves slowly and is perpetually running late. I’ll make the weekly grocery lists and all the doctor appointments. And he’ll keep closing my open drawers, refolding his t-shirts, and screwing the top back on the damn toothpaste.

Eight years. There’s been joy, sadness, excitement, anger, peace, and frustration. We’ve both had moments where we’re certain we married the right person, and some really honest moments when we’ve questioned it all.

We choose love though. We choose forgiveness. We choose hard work and sacrifice and grace.

We choose marriage.