Four years ago on this day I married my husband. We never really had one of those easy relationships. We had our struggles from the get go. We were two very different people trying to merge our lives together.
To give you a little background, we met in college on our first day. There was an initial attraction, but no interest in actually being in a relationship....especially on his end :) We spent the next two years becoming friends, going back and forth with how we felt about each other...which all led to quite a bit of heartache. Our relationship was pretty out of order. In October of 2005, Lauren told me he had fallen in love with me. Up until this point, we had only been friends...never in a relationship. I of course felt the same way and it was hard to believe at first that this was really how he felt.
We started dating soon after and were pretty serious (obviously, since he told me he loved me!) from the beginning. Although it was all fun and exciting, I still had really strong reservations. I had a lot of deep trust issues with Lauren...some valid, and some due to my own insecurities. Despite that, we were in love. A real, deep, passionate, carefree kind of love. We went on this way for about a year before things got difficult.
We would fight often, but never seemed to want to end the relationship. We took a couple of breaks, but we always came back to each other. This developed some really unhealthy communication and behavior patterns on both of our parts. I became very manipulative and angry and he became very passive and apathetic. This is a horrible combination by the way :)
That didn't stop us from still feeling like we were the person that God had intended us to be with. We still loved each other deeply and didn't have desires for anyone else...but it just felt difficult. Almost at times, like we could never catch a break. This carried on into our marriage for the first several years especially. We had some really dark days and felt isolated at times. We escalated our arguments to a point that I never thought I would see in my marriage. Where was that blissful honeymoon phase? It seemed to have passed us by. We had started a company, which caused even more stress and disconnect between us. The first few years of a new business are just plain hard...add that on top of a new struggling marriage and it is just a disaster. We became very distant, lacked intimacy, and were really just focused on ourselves. On top of this, my husband came down with a health issue that rocked our world as well. He had little energy and was at times not himself.
It was during this time that we began to reach out to our friends and family. Our community group at church became like family to us and they walked through this season with us. Without Christ and forgiveness, there would be no Collins family anymore. I am amazed at the faithfulness that has been shown to us through Jesus and those who truly love us.
I am sharing all this, not to depress you, but to share that marriage struggles are real. Marriage can be really really hard. Had Lauren or I chosen to leave this marriage, and I can promise you we both wanted to...we would have missed out on so much that God has in store for our lives. I'm here to share that even when things get hard, it doesn't mean it's a lost cause. Through these last four years, I have been able to see some really clear issues with myself and how I treat my spouse, and Lauren has done the same. I have realized 4 things about myself that contributed to a really bad marriage initially.
1. I can be very self absorbed. I didn't put Lauren first.
2. I often have high and unrealistic expectations of my spouse.
3. We fundamentally communicate completely differently.
4. I desire to be in control. This can often be exhibited in disrespect for my husband.
Once I started to see these issues, I began to see a pattern over the last several years. Through much discussion, study, grace, and forgiveness, I can honestly say that we are experiencing healing and restoration in our marriage. It is not overnight, but it is a gradual process that has been happening for us. I love my husband deeply. I would do anything for him. I think I just lost sight of this too easily. At our church, they promote the phrase "draw a circle around yourself" a lot. It was annoying to me at first, but it's really so important.
Today, I am so very thankful for 4 years with Lauren. In our wedding we wrote our own vows, and I wanted to reflect on those promises I made.
The moment I met you, I knew there was something special about you. You were so mysterious, cute, and hard to read. But I soon learned how wonderful your heart is. You truly are the most amazing man, and I am so lucky to have you. I know that it's not always going to be easy, and I'm not always going to be lovable. I know we are both going to make mistakes, but I will choose to love you every day. I will choose to put you first and receive everything that you are. I want you to know that this marriage is unconditional to me. I want to grow old with you. I want to have children with you. I want to serve the Lord with you. So, today, I am promising you everything I have. For rich or for poor, in sickness and in health, on the really good days, and on the really bad days, I will stand by your side wherever that may be...and I will love you and support you for the rest of my life.
I love you always and forever,