Fifteen Years

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Today, Paul and I celebrate fifteen years of wedded bliss. Here is this week’s column, which expresses my sentiments on this grand occasion.

When I was a newlywed, a person celebrating 15 years of marriage was someone who had been married forever. That couple had been married so long, I figured they probably could barely remember their wedding day!

Paul and I just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, and while it’s true our wedding day seems oh-so-long ago, in many ways these last few years have flown by. I am amazed and delighted to find myself already here, these many years later.

Since saying “I do,” Paul and I have amassed quite a lot – a house, a bunch of furniture, a dog, a bunch of boys, one set of braces (so far), and a garage filled with sports equipment and plastic weapons.

It takes effort to build a life, and while most of these things are externals (the only truly important thing is that bunch of boys), the list is evidence of time and energy invested in something together – of two people becoming one and then carving out a place on this planet to be one together.

In my first 15 years of marriage, one important lesson I have learned is that life is filled with toothbrush tubes – opportunities to get annoyed with your spouse when he does things “the wrong way.” If not handled properly, little things can quickly become make-or-break issues. Way back when, it certainly seemed ridiculous that I would bicker with my beloved about how he squeezes toothpaste from the tube (give me a break!) – and then imagine my surprise the first time I realized, no, not the toothpaste but oh-my-goodness why does he (insert substandard habit here).

Here is an example of how Paul and I are helping each other get to heaven: Paul comes from a family that is apparently very militant about cold milk. Every time I took milk out of the refrigerator, it would be magically returned, often before I was done using it. I finally realized the sight of milk just melting on the counter was more than my man could handle.

I started to get annoyed (it’s only a few minutes on the counter!) but eventually I decided milk, ice-cold or otherwise, was not going to rob me of joy in my marriage. I stopped fretting every time Paul put the milk away, and more importantly, I stopped taking it personally. My husband was not insinuating I was irresponsible or lazy; he just really, really likes cold milk. Lesson learned.

Something changed in our marriage when I stopped looking for reasons to be annoyed, when I found inner peace (a constant journey), and when I started to focus on the goodness of who Paul is, instead of the frustrations of who I sometimes wished him to be. Likewise, my husband could easily list my annoying habits, but most times he opts to just love me as I am instead of nitpicking. This is a wonderful place to be.

Older couples will often remark that they somehow love their spouse more these 25, 35, 50 years later, than they did when first married. As a newlywed, I always loved to hear that but was pretty sure it would not apply to me – I already loved Paul so much, it didn’t seem possible I could love him more.

How can a couple grow in love when they are already so close?

But then, over time, you watch your spouse evolve – you watch your husband take out the trash every day and back out of the driveway to go provide for you, for this life you have built together. You watch him love your children every bit as much as you do, and you realize that learning to ignore the tiny flaws gives you more energy to focus on all the good.

And one evening, years after your wedding day, you watch this man as he explains some ridiculously silly game to your son’s Boy Scout troop in the backyard. You watch as they are all bent over trying to toss a ball over their backs. You look at this man amazed because you really do love him more than you dreamed you could fifteen years ago when you said “I do.”

Paul and Rachel with some of their prized possessions.

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Comments

  1. Awesome post! It is so true how love grows. And incidentally, my husband does the exact same thing with the milk!

  2. Dan and Sarah says:

    Thanks for the reminder about overlooking the small things so we can see the amazing things that our spouse does for us. I needed it. Love your blog!

  3. Congratulations on 15 years! I pray God blesses you with many more!

  4. Ruth Anne Adams says:

    I used to cry at weddings all the time. Then, at my own wedding, I didn't cry at all. Too happy! A glimpse of Heaven where every tear will be wiped away, I thought. And here I sit with tears [yeah, thanks Rach, for the mascara warning!] for the Sacramental Presence of God in your marriage. May you two have many, many, many more years on this side of eternity together. Unity creates joy.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Congrats and thanks for the reminder. There you all are in front of one of my favorite sculptures at the Grotto!

    Beth-celebrating 16 yrs tomorrow!

  6. SoCalLynn says:

    Just found your blog! My hubby and I will celebrate 15 years in December, and every single word you wrote rings true to me. I didn't think I could love him more, but I do. Even in spite of him spending the entire summer on the couch because he broke his leg in a motorcycle wreck! 😛

  7. Happy, happy Anniversary! We are getting ready to celebrate 15 years also, in September. I maintain that wedding vows are wasted on newlyweds – it takes all those "many" years to truly appreciate the sacramental nature of those beuatiful words you repeat on your wedding day. I also look at my husband and wonder at the depth of love that we have for each other 15 years later. The joy of watching him be a father to our boys constantly blows me away.

  8. Amanda M. says:

    I'm totally with Paul on the milk. 🙂
    Happy Anniversary to one of my very most favorite writers!

  9. Melanie B says:

    A very happy anniversary and may you celebrate many, many more.

  10. What beautiful and wise words!

    Wishing you a very happy anniversary with many more years of love, peace and joy in the Lord.

    Blessings,
    Carly

  11. Oh wow, I forgot MHT used to have carpet.
    Happy Anniversary and thank you BOTH for the witness to strong faith that you and your children are.
    love you!

  12. Jean M. Heimann says:

    Congratulations to both of you on your 15th anniversary! Praying that you'll have many more blessed years together.

  13. the good life mama says:

    This was beautiful Rachel, thank you. It brought tears to my eyes…

    Happy anniversary!

    Blessing– Heather

  14. kerisullivan says:

    From a soon to be newlywed, thank you for those words of wisdom. And hilariously, my fiance comes from a family that will leave milk, cheese, butter, on the table for all the morning hours. I can relate to your husband!! IIICCK.

    I thought of you Sunday at the Gift of Grace, looking at the words "I Thirst" next to the crucifix. Thank you for all you did to bring that special place into being. The Gift of Grace gave me my fiance, and countless other blessings.

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!! MAY YOU BE MORE IN LOVE FIFTEEN YEARS FROM NOW!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations, and thanks for sharing.

  16. Congratulations on your 15th. We just celebrated our 56th and yes it's true.

  17. Lovely post, Rachel. And here's to many more years of love, laughter, and happiness for you and Paul! Blessings.

  18. ViolinMama says:

    Just found your blog…LOVE it, and love this post!!! THANK oyou for your wise words!!!!!

    Happy Anniversary!!

  19. ViolinMama says:

    Ok – I just realized this is you, "The Rachel" lol – of F&FL! Well, I love you there, and now I'll follow you here!

    God Bless!

  20. Happy Anniversary – you all look even better now then 15 years ago!!

    And I agree with your hubby about the cold milk…

  21. What a beautiful and true post – may God grant you both many (more) years together!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Happy Anniversary to you both! Sending my love you you and Paul. I remember when we were kids and talked about "our husbands". Hee, hee! Boy does time fly.

    -Rony

  23. Mayette Q. Tabada says:

    Cheers for sharing your years, and words, of grace. My friend shared your post on this day, when my husband and I celebrate our 17th year as a couple. God bless your family!

  24. Thanks for posting this – we also celebrated 15 years this July! It does go fast, and being the parents of four boys so far, I identify with the great experiences you relate about rearing sons, and the unpredictable ways husbands grow (Scouts). God bless you!