Happily Ever After

I have recently had some time in bed to watched a few romance movies, and pretty much every story goes the same. The woman dreams … more like obsesses … over getting the guy to propose. All so she can have the happiest day of her life, her wedding day.

Today Tony and I celebrate 17 years of love and marriage.

As I reflect on our past 17 years I am reminded of what the number 17 represented for me long. 

The number 17 use to represent the hurt, fear and shame that I had experienced during the first years of life.

I carried that into my marriage. Which is the part of the movie that is never shown.

Sure, in the movies the girl may overcome some of her junk as she realizes the guy she’s been dating wasn’t the one, but she normally finds “Mr. Right” and they live happily ever after. Or do they?

What does happily ever after truly look like?

Let me just say. I AM married to my Mr. Right and I often ask myself how in the world I got so lucky?

Are there really 10 ways to get the right man? 3 simple steps to follow to have the marriage of your dreams? Some secret sauce Tony and I have that we could bottle up and give away?

THERE’S NOT!

When Tony and I met we were young and STUPID! Yes, VERY STUPID!

Neither one of us were looking for the “ONE.” In fact, he was a brand new Solider, fresh out of Mom and Dad’s house.

I on the other hand, was a single mother, done with ALL men and determined to make my own way. I couldn’t trust a man as far as I could throw him and even though we were inseparable since day one, I will admit I was head strong and tried to push him away every time I got scared.

The reality is, for years, it was hard for me to fully enjoy the beauty of true love that God had given Tony and I. Of course it wasn’t constant, I knew I was blessed and I appreciated what I had or I probably wouldn’t still have it today. But I still hadn’t forgiven myself, even if God had, and more importantly, I lived in fear that I would lose it all one day.

When you stop and think about it, isn’t it crazy how much power we give our past?

Today I realize that I have had a beautiful marriage for the same amount of years that I was alive and a single mom. The number 17 use to bring back memories I wasn’t very proud of. Now, the number 17 reminds me that true love is not only real and worth the wait but worth fighting for.

As I stop and reflect on 17 years of marriage today, I am in awe.

For 17 years, Tony and I have been faithful, hardworking, adventurous and madly in love.

In 17 years we have raised 4 children, moved 10 times and pushed through 7 military deployments and counting. We have seen each other through sickness including cancer and a never explained muscle eating virus that put Tony in the hospital with incredible pain. We have watched our child go through multiple painful surgeries and all we could do is hold each other as we prayed. We’ve also experienced joyful moments and made countless memories that still bring smiles to our faces today.

Recently Tony and I were talking and he said something so true and powerful that I knew I had to share it with you.

He said that a lot of people like the idea of us, they love the romance and somehow they think we have it easy. What they don’t see is how hard we’ve worked to have the kind of marriage that we do.

So today, I want to share a few things that have helped Tony and I over the years.

It’s not a fool proof plan on how to land the perfect man and ride off into the sunset because then it would be a lie. Instead, it’s 4 reasons why we are still together and more in love than when we first met.

  1. Speak up. I never held back. Although I was extremely sassy and painfully straight forward in the beginning, Tony never had to guess what made me uncomfortable or unhappy. Of course the wiser me would now encourage you to speak out in love but don’t hold back when there is something your spouse or significant other is doing that hurts you or isn’t what you want in your relationship. I firmly believe that if we wouldn’t have stood up for things we believed in, we wouldn’t still be standing today.

  2. Be willing to change. As a human being you will change over time, whether you like it or not. The question is, will you become someone you are proud of? Will you change for the better? Will your relationship be stronger? Will you grow further apart? We all have habits that aren’t healthy, let’s be real, but if you realize those habits won’t help your relationship grow in the right direction, then why are you holding on to them? Tony and I have always been willing to change the things that we realize need to be changed in order for us to grow closer together instead of further apart. It hasn’t always been easy, in fact sometimes its been a struggle, but I am so grateful that we knew it was worth it.

  3. Put them before yourself. I will not lie, Tony has always been naturally better at this then me. When God told the husband to love his wife as Christ loves the church, my man was front and center taking notes! Me on the other hand, I am very loving but naturally tough and guarded so I have to be more intentional about it. Here is what I’ve learned. When you go out of your way to see your spouse and learn what they need and you start to think about them more than you think about yourself, then you do your best to put it into action, it draws them closer to you. Try it! And don’t give up.

  4. Above all else, cherish and guard what you have. It’s so easy to scroll and compare your life to someone else’s pretty little squares. I’m not pointing fingers, I’m just telling the truth. It seems easier, in the moment, to scroll and compare than it does to put in the hard work it takes to create the life you and your spouse truly want together but its always more fulfilling in the end.

In the end, you and your spouse are human beings and no two human beings are alike.

My heart is that you will be able to take away something from our journey that will help you in yours.

With Love & His Spark,

Lisa