Milner: Reflecting on a Year of Marriage

Late one night two years ago in the parking lot of Gallup Park in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Zach told me how much he loved me, then paused before blurting out, “This might sound crazy, but I think I want to marry you!” Crazy? Maybe. We were only about two months into our relationship. That didn’t stop me from taking only a few seconds of amazement before responding, “I think I want to marry you too…” Irrational? I considered that in the days, weeks, and months ahead leading up to our engagement and then marriage. Was I basing this off simply feelings? Yeah, his voice made my heart race, and his smile made me melt… And he had a way with words that left me speechless. I certainly “felt” in love with him…

But I kept coming back to a few things:

The way he was always there for me, serving me when I was hurting or sick or lost. Even when it wasn’t easy for him. Even when I could offer nothing in return.

The way he picked up more hours at work and began asking my opinion on financial matters as soon as we started talking about marriage because he knew he wasn’t just working for himself anymore.

How when we would fight, just as I was starting to feel like shutting down and closing up, he’d look at me with a renewed determination and tell me that is not an option and we are figuring this out, no matter how long it takes. Then he’d ask questions and listen and look for a solution with me. The way he’d then swallow his pride and ask for forgiveness if he knew he was in the wrong.

Most of all, the way we’d talk about theology and matters of faith and both get equally passionate. The way I could see how much faith meant to him… The moment he teared up thinking about seeing his child one day get baptized. And how we’d talk about raising a family and the vocation of parenthood. I thought about how excited he was to one day be a father and how seriously he took that job. How he’d listen earnestly as I shared all I had learned from childhood development and parenting classes and books. We would brainstorm techniques and family activities together and his eyes would light up.

So, at the end of the day I knew I didn’t only want to marry him because I “felt” in love. I wanted to marry him because of this foundation of servitude, sacrifice, faith, and vocation. Because I knew this was a man I could raise a family with. Who I could trust to lead us in faith and life. I knew it for the next eight months leading up to our wedding day.

A year ago today I walked down the same aisle my parents had thirty years before. I took the hand of this amazing man and I made a vow before God. The year since has simultaneously been the hardest and most wonderful of my life. I carried our son and rode the ups and downs of pregnancy as he rubbed my feet, got me food, and held me as I cried. I’ve dealt with the enormous struggles of becoming a mommy, while getting to watch him become a daddy just like he always dreamed, late nights and poopy diapers included. We’ve faced financial hardship and uncertainty. And we’ve had to stare down our own and each other’s respective demons. The sinful nature in us both that was much easier to hide while dating. We’ve yelled, laughed, cried, and stayed up late tackling the hard stuff.

Because when you view marriage the way we do, when you remove all the question marks that fill most relationships and say, “We’re in this together. No if’s, and’s, or but’s,” that means some days, most days, it’s not gonna be easy. Because no matter what the world tells us, love isn’t the natural state of the human heart. I know it sure isn’t the natural state of mine. My default position is spite, jealousy, mistrust, and selfishness. When the going gets tough I’m tempted to run away from the problem.

But a Christ centered marriage doesn’t give us that option. Instead, the Holy Spirit stirs us to turn back to each other and ask forgiveness, to serve, to build up. Thank God I have this man beside me who recognizes this and never gives up on us. Who, even during our worst fights, I can know without a doubt will still be here tomorrow. And thank God we have Christ holding us together. Because this view of marriage is in fact crazy and irrational in our individualistic, look-out-for-yourself world. It flies in the face of just doing what feels good as long as it feels good. But God specializes in what appears crazy to us humans and His plan for our salvation through Christ was anything but rational to the naked eye.

Thanks be to God for that.

And thanks be to God for my wonderful husband, Zach.

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