31 Lessons: 2. A Good Marriage


Dear Self on Your Wedding Day,

You think today is the beginning of your fairy tale life only rivaled by The Notebook, and in a way, it is. Just probably not the fairy tale you’re imagining.

You think today will be the most significant moment in your marriage.

You think you’ll enjoy the beaches of Mexico on your honeymoon during the most perfect, blissful week of your pretty, young life.

You think today marks the beginning of countless married dates that surprise you and make your heart leap with their spur-of-the-moment thoughtfulness and romance.

You think you’ll transform your first house into the Pottery Barn catalog that you registered for.

You think you’ll discover one morning with delight that you’ve married the person that (finally) makes your world perfect and complete.

Nah, sweetheart. Not one of the things you’re imagining is gonna come true.

That perfect wedding day will be perfect, but at the end of it, you’ll still be a little sad because the seasons are changing and all that planning and preparing? It’s done.

That honeymoon will boast bigger fights and vaster loneliness than when you were dating.

That first house will be a creative challenge full of hand-me-down furniture for years to come.

That first year will have more nights spent with work spread across the kitchen counter than candlelit dinners.

That man standing in front of your eyes–your husband–will puzzle and infuriate and disappoint you some days.


But look a little closer.

Here’s what you don’t know, where The Notebook hasn’t the very first clue.

That honeymoon? The bright sun of tropical beaches will pale in comparison to the sweet times you’ll spend together drinking hot chocolate on the sofa on a weeknight, talking and planning on Saturday mornings during the three-mile loop in your neighborhood, exchanging honest apologies and tears after fights in the kitchen, finding rest in each other through doubts and fears and shortcomings.

That first house? You’ll bring a sweet baby boy into its walls, and it will hold you and steady you, and its floors will bear you up on nights full of pacing and light on sleep. Despite all its challenges, because of all its challenges, you’ll realize what it means to be content in this world, in your own walls, in your own skin. You’ll remember what a home is really all about.

That man standing before your eyes?

He’ll bring you flowers after a long week, despite the fact that you’ve probably made it seem even longer to him.

He’ll care for you when you’re sick. He’ll really, really try.

He’ll put out the fire in the kitchen when you whisper that the toaster oven *might be* ablaze at 6:30 in the morning.

He’ll hold your hand during take-off and landing and make you feel like you belong.

He’ll answer your questions about God with patience and encouragement.

He’ll make you the very best eggs, just the way you like them.

He’ll put up with your bull to a point, but not forever. Eventually, he’ll call you out on it. Eventually, you’ll thank him for it.

He’ll take his role as provider and protector very seriously, and you’ll be humbled by his selflessness.

He’ll hold your giant, bed-ridden, pregnant body and tell you that you’ve never looked more beautiful. And you’ll look into his honest eyes and know that he means it.

He’ll continue to surprise you with his intelligence. That man is really smart. And you’ll never stop liking that about him.

He’ll put up with you when you’re hormonal and sleep-deprived. And tell you to go to Target for a while.

He’ll hold your precious son in his hands and show you so that you can trust it in your marrow what it’s like to be unconditionally loved by an earthly father.

He’ll do little things like bring you Starbucks cards when you’re at the start of a new challenge, just so you know he’s got you. He gets you.

He’ll grow to be the person who pushes you every single day to bring the big guns, to be the best of yourself–the self that God made you to be. And while that journey will require you to see the worst of yourself, he will love all of you.

That man standing in front of you? He himself will grow and change to become more real and more precious to you with every passing day and week and year.


So, dear self on your wedding day, don’t worry now that you have no idea what a good marriage is.

You will soon.


“if it’s a very fragile rope placed in the eye of a needle like a thread, if it’s out in the middle of a storm somewhere dangling off a ledge, if it yells sometimes in the kitchen then takes back every word it said, then it’s a good marriage”

this post was inspired by lori mckenna’s “good marriage”, from her recent album numbered doors

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