About the Author

Alia Joy is an author who believes the darkness is illuminated when we grasp each other's hand and walk into the night together. She writes poignantly about her life with bipolar disorder as well as grief, faith, marriage, poverty, race, embodiment, and keeping fluent in the language of hope in...

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  1. Alia,
    So you’re telling me there’s no such thing as happily ever after? Happily may look different on different on different days. In marriage certainly every day is not a mountaintop experience. Life gets hard. It gets real. The flaws don’t go away after you say, ” I do.” Most often they become magnified. But that means that MY flaws become magnified too. I love your beautiful telling of continuing to reach out in hospitality to our mates….even when tragedy, disappointment, anger, frustration, boredom hit (and they will). When you put two flawed humans together and tell them to live in close proximity and raise a pack of humans (all with their own issues), truth is – it ain’t easy! Here’s to sticking in there and looking for the parts of our people to love. May we have God’s eyes to see beauty when we see bewilderment. Thank you, as always, for sharing openly from the heart.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • I believe that there are seasons in a marriage. We’ve been married 20 years. He’s different than when I married him. Praying he comes back to the man he was. But if he doesn’t I’m still going to love him. He’s my man and I’m fighting for him. Please pray for us as we go through this journey. I’ll pray for you too. ♥️

  2. Very beautifully put! We do break many things and many things break us through the years. But there is always the coming back together and rediscovering our common ground.

  3. I read this with a lump in my throat and thanksgiving in my heart for the hospitality of nearly 30 years with a guy who is still finding new ways to love me. Thanks for bringing words to the table here in the midst of busy days and blessings to you as you labor over your manuscript.

    • I love that, Michele, and congrats on nearly 30 years! That’s amazing. And thanks. Finishing this manuscript has basically felt like me crawling towards my deadline.

  4. This. This ismy hearts cry for so long no. Thank you for putting it into words Alia. God bless your life and your days – together.

  5. I think you just defined true love.
    You also took a great risk by being vulnerable. Thank you

  6. What a beautiful story of love you shared. This is what love is, messy, crazy, insane and yet so full of richness. We all are not the ideal pair I know as well. My hubby Paul and I had been married for 23 years and we have gone through similar events such as you. It feels good to know we all had walked similar paths. That we all struggled with the same issues. God doesn’t say we will live happily ever after, He tells us that in this world we will have many trials and tribulations and it is through His grace that we will be forgiven. This love thing is definitely not easy but in the end, it is so worth it when you find whom loves your soul. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Alia, I receive so much from your contributions to this ministry. You are real and write openly and honestly from the heart. Thank you so much for the important reminders and continued blessings in your writing.

  8. Thank you for penning this reminder every spouse needs! I love that you write with such intimacy, brutal honesty, no fear of judgment, and so very beautifully. Thank you for your words today….

  9. Wow, this post really made me reflect on what real, Christlike love is for marriage. I’m not married yet, but I am in a committed relationship. My aunt told me that people change over the course of a marriage, and that you can grow together.

    • Yes, you certainly can. Our story is not everyone’s story but the intention it takes to continue to chose each other, to continue to learn new ways to love each other? That is where real love happens. Because we are changed, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. There are so many things we cannot anticipate and those things change us. When we say our vows, we often have no idea what our lives might hold. We choose to love the one we marry through it all. It’s as simple and as hard as that.

  10. Heartfelt. Beautiful. A painting of the resolution time and life brings to those who never surrender to the burdens they bring, but grasp instead to the good. To learn that newly minted love, so deep and sweet, pales in the comparison to the love found through the years lived. Thank you for sparking me to love even better the man who shares my life and is far, far removed from the boy he was, as I am from the girl he married.

    • Yes, we’re not those same people, that idealistic boy or girl, but sometimes I’m lucky and I get a glimpse, a memory, and I remember we’ve built a whole life together and we’ve got some spark left yet. 😉

  11. This is so beautiful! It made my heart cry out in gratefulness for my sweet hubby and encouraged me to love him better. Thank you.

  12. THIS is the most beautiful piece you have ever written. I was touched by it and will DEF be rereading it! Thanks for the glimpse in to your marriage!

    • Thanks Karen. This is one of my favorites too. Mostly because it’s our love story. It’s the story I will pass on to my kids to show how their dad and I learned to love each other. Again and again.

  13. “There’s a hospitality in receiving the man you end up with.” Truth so beautifully said. Needed exactly this today❣️

  14. What a beautiful message! I’m sure the time will come when I’ll refer back to this, and it will comfort me. BTW, you write beautifully! You have a gift for words. Good bless you and your family.

    • And I you. Miss your beautiful face, friend. I think of you often and say a little prayer for wherever your day finds you.

  15. This was such a touching story that I cried as I read it. Every young man and woman considering a lifetime of covenant marriage should read this article. It is filled with truth and beauty and the marks of authentic love. Christ told us to love as an act of our will. We need that reminder daily. Thank you. Patty

  16. Alia,
    Thank you for your beautifully well written blog about marriage and life together. God has been putting hospitality on my heart and this is another way He is speaking to me about showing hospitality also to my husband. Thank you Lord for your words shared through Alia. HE is giving me ( a perfectionist who is hesitant to host any gatherings) the confidence to go simple and just invite others into my home. I ask God to help me show hospitality towards my husband of 21 years. It is refreshing to know that I am not alone with a lot of those feelings, life events, etc. that you have also been through during your lives. Have a blessed day Alia. Hugs

    • You’re not alone. And I’m glad you’re exploring ways to push past those perfectionistic tendencies. The greatest grace I’ve had in relationships is being freed from some of that. Honesty is our invitation. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give others is our ability to be imperfect. To allow them room to breathe a little and not have to pretend to have it all together either.

  17. Dear Alia Joy,
    Your writing is so vulnerable, and real, and honest, and thought-provoking! I read your pieces over and over and over and never get tired of the way you say things and the words resonate in my mind for hours. Thank you for the wonderful outlook you have on life and the living of it. You, dear girl, are a tremendous blessing to this elderly woman whose life is enriched by the in.courage community day after day. I am thankful for you and the way you write so beautifully about living life. And for your being a part of this community of ministry and sharing our lives.

    • This comment was a blessing to me today as I’m finishing writing work and meeting deadlines and feeling all the weariness that comes with telling the hard parts of my story and indeed living through them. The past few weeks have been really tough and this comment was such an encouragement that it all matters. God uses it all. I’m so glad you join us here, Molly. This was a lovely pick me up at the perfect time.

  18. When I got to the part where you grabbed the old beach towel to change the baby, I started to cry. Beautiful, inspirational post. Thank you.

    • We just got rid of those old towels a few years ago after over a decade of use. They had so many memories I kept them for much longer than they were useful.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and a glimpse of your marriage with us today. Your message really touched me today, and was absolute perfect timing.

  20. Beautifully put! It’s refreshing and cleansing to read that we all have similar thoughts and experiences throughout marriage. After 23 years, I still haven’t figured out this “boy” I married that is now a man. We’ve raised 2 “men” together by the grace of God. I too have struggled with depression and anxiety and struggle to explain it to the man on the other side of the king-sized bed. Yet, he shows me God’s love through his time and presence. Praise God for marriage…and girlfriends to help us through

  21. This post is beautifully written and it is so real. I love your honesty and hope you and your husband continue to grow closer. Life sure does get crazy once kids are added into the mix, which is the season that I am in right now with two small children. My husband works very hard and I am left with doing everything and at times I feel we are distanced and getting time alone together is hard. But marriage is hard and there will be difficult times and really no one is going to be perfect every day. I had never thought of showing hospitality to my husband, but this post has inspired me and some one has to make the effort. Thanks to The Lord for letting me read this today.

  22. The face of an 89 year old man looking at you with love in his eyes that have cateracts that need attention soon, the fact that he now needs braces to hold up his pants as he has lost weight and his lovely dark hair has somehow turned white and become thin. The way he staggers now to his invalid scooter when he used to stride out with our golden retriever for miles alongside me…but faster and leading me on. All speak to me of a bond that has lasted through 59 years of wanting, and waiting, for the children who never came. The care and tenderness I have received through 4 major operations and recently a heart attack. The way we can finish each other’s conversations and turn to each other when something comes on t.v. and say with laughter “do you remember when”? This is what Love is and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
    As we enter the final act of our married life I know this is the man I will wait for if I go first and am sure he will be there with his once strong arms waiting for me if God calls him first.

    • Oh Brenda, this is so stunningly beautiful. You have me in tears. Yes! Yes to small beginnings and fumbling middles and you are in the final act of your married life and finishing well. What an achingly gorgeous testimony to loving the one we’re with. Yes, this is what love is. Bravo!

      • Thank you my dear, it was a privilege to share with you and thank you also for sharing your tears…… they too are part of life aren’t they? Brenda xxx

        • Yes, I saved so many of my tears for the first 30 years of my life. I kept them in and pushed them down. I’ve more than made up for that in the last decade. They are a part of life. It took me so long to realize it.

    • Brenda,

      This is beautiful. Thank you for a most warm look at married life int he second act. Love the tenderness of your words. I pray God will bless you both richly!

      Blessings 🙂

      • Thank you Beth, yes we have been blessed for so long and so richly…. in ways that perhaps were chosen for us alone. Blessings, Brenda xxx

    • Wow dear Brenda. This is what I am going to strive for. If I ever get to reach this life stage you’re in, I want to be able to say something like that, too. As a young girl with hopes yet fears of not seeing them fulfilled, this post really touches my heart. I sometimes worry over whether it is really worth it to marry with all the difficulties I hear/see will come with it…but posts like Alia Joy’s and yours give me hope and reassurance. And if it’s God’s perfect will, then it’s gonna be worth it anyway 🙂 !

      “This is what Love is and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” – Yes, it is difficult to view love in a realistic way when you’re not in a relationship yet. The world is full of voices telling young people what love is supposed to be like. They portray it as ideal all the time. But then, it’s hard not to go to the other extreme and only focus on the negative things. The struggles. The fact that we change. That there will be hard times. Thankfully, the Word of God guides us and reajusts our way of thinking when we dive into it and let ourselves be transformed by the renewing of our mind…!!

      So thank you again for these posts! I will totally go back and read them again…often! Praise the Lord for you!

      • Dear Mary, when you meet the right one for you, you will know because I did. Some came before but were not right for me.It didn’t seem that way at first but we grew together.
        Good times make the bad times easier to handle. Hugs heal everything. Hand joined together with each other – and in my case often in prayer – are the basis of a long lasting relationship. Give each other the respect you would give to a stranger.
        We were born in the 1930’s in a time of depression so we learned from our parents what is really important in life. It is often not what you WANT but what you HAVE that matters. We also lived through World war 2 in our teens so found out then what is really important in life I guess.
        You have the right way of looking at life already my dear and your words are precious to me, and I would recommend Psalm 91 as one of my favourite readings in time of need.
        I pray that when you look back, when you get to my age, you will be able to say, “I have done well and am satisfied” then smile… both from your heart and with your lips for you will know it is true.
        Keep a young mind too because it keeps you young, John is my rock as I am learning to play the piano and without his constant encouragement (and the poor lad listens to my fumbling fingers too) I would have given up as I have been trying for 4 years. However today I got my latest piece “Joy to the World” ticked off by my tutor so we are both smiling.

        God bless you, Brenda xxx

        • Dear Brenda,

          Congrats on your latest piece!! I play the piano too, and it’s so much fun…but hard work to learn sometimes 🙂 ! I’m so glad you do learn and don’t give up! Also thank you for your wise words and especially these: “It is often not what you WANT but what you HAVE that matters.” Indeed, what good does it do to always long for what we can’t have!?

          I am thrilled you took the time to answer my comment in such a long reply and, as I already said, will come back here often to read it again and again. It gives me such hope and confidence in what God can do! Even in my life.

          Love to you, dear Brenda, and have a wonderful day!!
          Your little sister in Christ,
          Mary

  23. Gah! I love you so much! …you know the drill…
    Also this: We have GOT to see each other at some point this year… we live too close not to make it happen!
    Love you and all your truth and heart and words!

  24. Oh, Alia…you’ve just described my marriage. It was the title that caught my eye and I had to read it. I’ve wondered for many years if I had made a mistake. Now I know, we are broken people trying to find the path God wants us to walk, together. Thank you for sharing your heart. This brought tears to my eyes, your words touched me.

    • Yes, so many times I wondered if I made a mistake, or he did, when we said I do and had no idea what that meant. I’m glad this spoke to you. I am so glad we kept going through it all, I am so glad we continue to choose each other. It doesn’t always get easier, but it can get deeper, richer, more true. He’s home to me.

  25. Thank you for your honesty in sharing with us about your experience in marriage. It really resonated with me. I’ve been married over fifty years, but it was very encouraging and inspiring. You definitely are blessed with an incredible ability to express yourself very eloquently. God bless you and all the other ladies who commented.

  26. This is so beautiful, so honest. It made me cry and I thank you for sharing so deeply. It is such an encouragement and a precious reminder for me to continue to be hospitable in my marriage. Bless you and thank you. ❤️

    • I’m so glad it encouraged you in your marriage, Wendy! That is so encouraging to me.

  27. Just beautiful. After 30 years and almost two decades parenting adopted children from trauma, my husband and I spent the last year piecing our marriage back together. The brokenness has been restored and we have what we never knew possible. Thank you for sharing so beautifully. The story continues to be written.

    • Yes, to be continued can be so hopeful. Just knowing we’re in process. I’m glad you’re doing the work to grow back together. Grace and peace to you both.

  28. Alia,

    WOW! What an amazingly beautiful story of married life. I read with tears. Loved this: Hospitality is the space to say ‘Come as you are, and I’ll find new ways to love you. You have given me a new resolve to find new ways to say I love you. We met almost 15 years ago via net. We were so in love & went places all the time. It was fun back then. Now I see the face of a middle aged man who is struggling with work stress, his dad dealing with Stage III bladder cancer & everyone needing him. We’ve had ups & downs in our life together. Our journey has included parents with severe dementia, death of two parents & job changes. Somewhere in all this we’ve lost that loving feeling. We were and still are a perfect match that needs some tweaking. I know it was God who put us together.
    I am determined to keep us together forever come what may!

    Blessings 🙂

  29. Alia & Others,

    This is such a sweet place to open up your heart. Would you all please pray for my hubby? He’s having a rough time now. They lost 3 full time employees in about 1 month. Others, including him, are having to fill in those shifts. Not easy. He works 8 on Fridays & 12-13 hrs Sat-Monday at a hospital doing CTs. He is also dealing with his aging dad (almost 90) having Stage III bladder cancer. He tries to help him out once a week. His dad’s surgery will be April 23. He feels worn out all the time.

    Thanks prayer warriors! ((((((Hugs))))

  30. Alia,
    Your heart always pours onto the page so real, honest, wide open and beautiful. God has truly given you a gift and I thank you for sharing it with us. I am not yet married but this still reached deep within me and showed me a lovely picture of what true love looks like between two individuals who , even though they are quite different , they mesh in a way that creates a special connection that only the two of them are able to share. Thank you for giving some much needed wisdom to us. God Bless you ❤

  31. I couldn’t help but be reminded of where I might be had I remembered this concept 8 years ago. Rather than take the shame that might go with those thoughts though, I instead allowed myself to feel really proud and honored to have been closely intertwined with people like you and Josh thru at least one season of your journey. To see how you’ve come through the hardest of days… when some of us gave up. It’s truly beautiful. It also inspires me as I move forward and choose to try my hand in marriage a second time. I’m a different person, with different experiences as I enter into a new marriage. I will take words like these with me, letting my heart and my mind marinate in all the truth and encouragement you’ve shared. You’ve been such a blessing in my life. Love you my friend.

  32. Alia, this is so beautiful. So real. It makes me want to go to my husband’s job and give him a kiss. His co-workers say his face lights up when he sees me. After 22 years. So often, I miss it. Don’t appreciate it. Don’t appreciate him. Thank you for sharing. For reminding me.

  33. Your post Alia is truly a blessing to me, and to so many others. I will pass this on to others I know. Thank you for opening up your heart. You are making a beautiful difference for others with your writing 🙂
    Thank you <3

  34. Alia your transparency has resonated with so many hearts represented here! It’s what I have been
    playing over in my mind as of recent. I look at my husband of 27 years and see the constant
    he has been to me, even in the midst of pain over the years. This only reiterates to me how
    I long to grow closer to my man and appreciate what God allowed 27 years ago to be united.
    No, indeed it’s never been perfect, but the threads that hold us together are strong and have
    endured many storms. We are both weathered, but a testimony to God’s Grace to two broken
    people who have created three amazing humans, all because we didn’t give up.

  35. Your words make me love my man of 25 years even more than I knew I did. Your writing ministers to my soul friend. Such a beautiful post!

  36. So much of your post reminded me of my husband and I. We too are so far from where we started. We too have experienced a tidal wave of emotions from the disasters erupting beneath. Now here we are trying to figure out who we are together. “We’ve had to relearn what it is to make space for each other.” Exactly. Thank you for the honesty and affirmation that others are working through their new season too.

  37. “Hospitality is the space to say, ‘Come as you are, and I’ll find new ways to love you.’” Oh, I love this, Alia. celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary next month, which is pure craziness. And wildly wonderful. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Stopping by from Hope*Writers!

  38. Beautifully written truth. Been married for 26 years and as long as the Lord is our foundation we can find that hospitality. Thank you for sharing.