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Quite accidentally, my mom brought me a journal from exactly 10 years ago, June 2005. It had been overlooked when we packed our honeymoon bags and left for the Grand Canyon, and then again when we moved to Memphis to begin our life together. So, with an eerie feeling of stepping into the past, I recently opened the journal to read my own thoughts from 10 years ago, one month before we married.

I was astonished at how much I’ve changed in this process of us becoming us.  Honestly, I cringed to read my own naïve, lovesick entries, but I don’t suppose there is any way to avoid being young and foolish except to keep growing up.

Sometimes people ask how we met, and that’s the love story, I suppose. However, I like the one we are living now better, because we’re kissing outside our minivan while the kids watch, and we take turns bringing each other coffee in the mornings, so we can drag each other out of bed 30 minutes before the kids get up.

I don’t think most people hide their true selves until they are married, and then pull out all the unlovable traits like dirty clothes out of a closet. Rather, we don’t know what we are until we are fused to someone else.  Until we see the one piece, we don’t truly understand the individual parts, or see them as they are.  We don’t know that we walk crookedly until we are tied together at the ankle for a three legged race and find we are veering off course.

Maybe the real love story doesn’t begin until you’ve been in the marriage long enough to storm off to the boundary you yourself forged in vows, stare angrily out into the distance, the unknown other, then turn around and walk back.  Choose again this person, this soul.

After 10 years, I don’t know much at all. But here is what I do know.

  1. I do know that it takes 10 years of squaring off to find the middle ground of compromise on some issues. And even then, in seasons of intensity, it’s still dicey.
  2. I do know that there are mistakes we were just going to make, and we could not have done otherwise, and it’s healing to forgive ourselves for that.
  3. I do know that every single thing takes years to process, and we will always understand better looking back, so we should press on to gain that mountain view. It’s beautiful up there, but the climb is tough.
  4. I do know that life is not fair, and some couples carry more baggage than others. No one fully understands the state of the marriage except the two inside; it’s a work of sacred secrets.
  5. I do know that it doesn’t help to dwell on what other couples have, but to thank God you have someone to share your life, knowing each one must carry his own load (Gal. 6:5).
  6. I do know that each spouse will have seasons when they need insane amounts of grace, and if we give, we will also receive when it’s our turn to be the crazy one.
  7. I do know that children are a blessing and a distraction, and we have to keep finding our way back to each other in order to care for them. They need our strong marriage as much as we do.
  8. I do know that we must fight together against our problems instead of letting them separate us. We square off together against the stresses that divide us. We pray, down on our faces at times, seeking grace in our time of need.
  9. I do know that each of us will take the other for granted, and each of us will be called upon to forgive and remember again how blessed we are.
  10. I do know that we’ve become more colorful with age, more interesting, more relaxed. I loved you then, but I like you now, and I like me, too.

To my husband, Tim: you are to me a man among men. You stand out now, and you always will.  You make me proud and happy.  Happy 10 years!