As Bryan and I drove home from dinner and a movie—we both list Quality Time as our primary love language, so we’re a date night waiting for a place to happen—I thought about the love story we witnessed on the screen. Hollywood can craft a good tale and although these were actors (who might not even like each other), what a rich relationship they portrayed.
In that moment I had a revelation that for me was revolutionary; I’ve held onto it for years: as a married woman in a committed relationship, I can have as fulfilling a marriage as anything I see on the screen or read in a novel. It all comes down to what I’m willing to put into it and what I’m willing to ask of my husband. It’s mine for the taking.
After 30 years of marriage I can tell you that it moves in cycles, some hotter and some cooler, some more connected and some less. How could it be otherwise? But I can also tell you this: what you put into it is directly proportional to what you get out of it. Strive for balance—one spouse shouldn’t do all the giving and another all the taking—but prepare to periodically shift your expectations.
Remember your vows? For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. These were penned by someone with an intimate knowledge of the degrees of change, the sometimes delicate and sometimes dramatic shifts of fate and fortune within a healthy marriage.
I remember when Bryan and I realized we’d spent more of our lives married than not. Not only have I been a wife and mother over half my life, but we still have a house full of kids (my mother was an empty nester at my age). Here are some things I’ve learned from more than 30 years of marriage:
- No matter how wonderful your children are, there will be days when they break your heart; eventually they’ll grow up and start families of their own.
- No matter how much you may love your job (if you have one), it’s still your work, not your life.
- No matter how supportive your online community may be, they aren’t a face-to-face part of your life.
- No matter how close your friends, they’ve got their own lives, their own families, their own obligations.
But your husband—the one you chose and who chose you, till death do us part—this is the relationship you need to nurture above the others.
This post is an excerpt from The Heart of Marriage: Stories that Celebrate the Adventure of Life Together by Dawn Camp, which is now available where books are sold and makes a perfect gift for the bride-to-be, the couple celebrating a significant anniversary, or anyone looking for encouragement in marriage. Dawn Camp is a photographer, wife, homeschooling mother of eight, and Classical Conversations tutor. She blogs family, faith, and Photoshop at My Home Sweet Home and lives with her family in north metro Atlanta.