If I had one statement that would sum up the past 15 years it would be "this wasn't what we had planned." I have no idea what the plan would have been but I am pretty sure it wouldn't have looked like this.
Now that isn't to say that this is much worse or even better than the plan, but so different.
One of the statements the pastor made in our wedding is very true. He said something to the effect "You two don't even know each other now." So very true.
It may be the stage of life (30-40 years old) but we have been innundated by many around us going through divorce or husbands abandoning their families.
I am only going to talk from my perspective as a man. I was clueless getting married, as I typical male I wanted to find someone attractive, who was smart, and interested in me and that is about it. Not to much thought other than that, and not to much more. I don't think that is abnormal thinking for most 20-25 year old guys. If that is stilll the thought process when guys are in their 30s than I can totally understand why men leave their families.
As I look back at the evaluation of our marriage I can see many of the different hurdles we have overcome.
The first was the way Jill and I view life- I come from a totally unrealistic fantasy idealistic point of view. I am way too optimistic that everything will work out great, and future ideas are much better than whatever is currently going on. Every idea I have is better than the last one, and it is bound to work.
Jill on the other hand is very firmly realistic, very steadfast, and doubtful until proven otherwise.
Needless to say there were many "discussions" in the first years of marriage. There was so much frustration, and heated words as we dialogued about the ways we do mundane to the very important aspects of life. Finally (and there wasn't an aha moment but many little moments) there was understanding and compassion for the other ones point of view. I realize that many ideas I have will not work and Jill has realized that some of the ideas do have validity. But it has taken much work and communication, and me not sharing every idea that pops into my head.
The second huge hurdle has been with Kyle and the rythms of life. It has taken us ten years to even come close to a plan on how to make this work. Things came still be tweaked (better ideas than the current one) but overall it works fairly well. It has taken a lot of give and take and taking on different expectations to make this work.
From going from a career oriented life to a family oriented life took a lot of work, communication, and willing to sacrifice on both of our parts.
Above everything we have learned it has been by God's grace that we have stayed together over the past 15 years. I have done and said my share of dumb things. But more than anything else it is both of our commitments to God and also each other that has brought us this far.
I was recently reading through Tim Keller's The Meaning of Marriage and there were many good quotes but one that I thought that was fitting for where I was at in life is this:
“In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must BE tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.”