For some background, Ben and I had known each other for three months before we were engaged, and only eleven months before we were married. I was nineteen and I thought I knew everything.
Walking down the aisle, I remember being so happy, excited, and hopeful. I thought at that moment (as several of our cheesy centerpieces stated) that love was all we would ever need. I thought life would be easy, that we wouldn't ever argue, we'd spend every moment together, and that each day would be better than the last. I thought I loved him more than I could ever love anyone.
And, I was mostly wrong.
We had a wonderful honeymoon. After having a long distance relationship, every moment we were together was cherished. While out one evening, a staff member at an attraction asked us if we were on our honeymoon - she said it was obvious that we were newlyweds. I giggled, smiled, and blushed constantly. Every second we were together, every time he touched me, I had butterflies.
After our honeymoon, life wasn't all butterflies.
Within seven months, my Grandma was diagnosed with cancer. Within a month of her diagnosis, we said goodbye to her. It was the most difficult thing I had ever been through. I cried constantly. Life wasn't easy.
Within our first two years of marriage, there were three deaths in our family. It still wasn't easy.
We fought about everything. From religion, to politics, to household chores, to where we wanted to go out to eat, it was a constant battle. It wasn't easy. We argued.
We didn't want to spend every second together.
We had a very sweet baby boy. It was the greatest moment we had experienced (and he still is such a huge blessing to us). We were shocked to find out about his clubfeet. I entered one of the darkest times of my life. We went to weekly castings, and sat together while he had surgeries. It wasn't easy.
We were blessed with a precious little girl. She was (and still is) lovely and wonderful; but I was terrified that I would go back to the dark place. I felt overwhelmed - It wasn't easy.
It wasn't what I expected. I thought we'd always be in the honeymoon phase. I thought we'd never argue. I thought we'd only experience good news. I was so wrong. But I am so glad that I was.
Once the butterfly feeling wasn't constant, we worked harder on our marriage. We prayed together. We prayed for each other. We got involved in ministry together. We started cultivating a much deeper love. I liken it to a tree, over years the roots grow deeper and deeper. The roots become entangled, inseparable. One.
We constantly communicate. We don't agree about everything, but we know where the other one stands on nearly everything. We've both changed and have become more compassionate. And I love that when my heart isn't where it should be, that he lovingly tells me. He holds me accountable and helps me be a better person.
When life was hard, he was so supportive. He never once made me feel guilty about spending every weekend in my hometown to be with my Grandma. He drove me back and forth every weekend. He never whined about getting home late on Sundays (I cried half the way home every week) and waking early for work on Mondays. He didn't complain that he didn't get to hang out with his friends on the weekends. He stayed by my side.
When I was in my dark place, he never let me know that he was struggling too. He was what kept us going. He was our strength, our backbone. When I was at my weakest, he picked me up and held me up. Years later, when I suggested driving back and forth to Iowa for our son's clubfoot treatment, (ten hours each way), he never looked at me like I was crazy. He helped me pack, took off work, and we went together. It ended up being some of the richest, most memorable times in our lives.
When I was afraid of being a mother of two children under the age of two (and returning to my dark place), he reassured me that it would be okay. Having our sweet daughter ended up being anything but dark. It was beautiful and wonderful. He took off work for half the month to help me. He spent so much time taking care of me, our son, and our home so that I could focus on caring for our newborn.
When I told him that I wanted to homeschool our children, he helped me gain enough faith to try it. He has fully supported me in our curriculum choices (regardless of cost). He is confident in me even when I'm not. He constantly reassures me that I am enough.
He encourages me to have girls nights. He encourages me to take breaks and get out of the house. And I need that.
When I walked down the aisle, I thought I would never be able to love anyone more than I did in that moment. And I was wrong. I love him so much more than I did then. And I know that I'll love him more in ten years still.
He has supported me, forgiven me, encouraged me, lifted me, led me, and loved me. Deeper than the ocean, unconditional, indestructible loved me. I was right about one thing on my wedding day - with that kinda love, love is all we need.