25 Years of Marriage and How the Romance Novels Got it All Wrong

We’ve been married for 25 years today.  

25 years we’ve been finding our way back to each other over and over again.  We made it through the first few years of married after the shine of honeymoons and happily-ever-afters began to lose their luster.

We’ve weathered financial troubles and many days wondering whether or not we’d be able to pay for the cozy life we’d made for ourselves.

We packed up battered pick-up trucks with our meager belonging and headed East to start a new adventure, miles away from the land his feet had trod for his entire life.  One hand held his and the other rested on the life that was just beginning show, right there under my heart. 

With eyes wide- sort of like the kind you’d find on a deer stuck in headlights – we entered the fray of parenting with nothing more than a hope and prayer that at 22 and 25 we had what it took to not mess up the tiny humans God saw fit to bless us with.

He held my hand as I stepped into the craziest of dreams.

He reminded me that love beats fear every single day and that dreams really do come true. 

And tomorrow, we send our first off to the other side of the world as we watch her chase her dreams across an ocean and we’re  watching our second fearlessly and with single-minded determination make his own mark on a world full of challenges.

It seems we managed to raise tiny humans to be beautiful big humans. 

This morning though, when my feet hit the carpet at the crack of a snowy dawn I was surprised to realize that my joy in this beautiful marriage was nowhere to be found.

Instead I looked straight into the face of fear.

We’ve been embracing a whole bunch of change during some really uncertain times.  Uncertainty makes it hard to find your joy.

My husband got word two weeks ago that the job he’s been at for over 10 years will no longer exist in six short weeks.  And I gotta tell you, it’s been hard.  Really hard to find that place of joy I felt when I found myself heading down the aisle to him – the rest of my life.

Fear has a funny way of disguising lies as truth and today, against my better judgement, I listened to the lies. 

More than anything else I wanted today to be a celebration – like none we’d ever had.  I guess I got caught up in the romance of it all — because 25th Wedding Anniversaries should be about trips to sunny places, candlelight dinners and whispers of undying love in the cocoon of warm sheets, his hand holding mine.  Right?

Life however, has this funny way of showing up.  There will be no trips or sunsets over beaches or candlelit dinners for two… but there will always be the whispers of undying love.   In the middle of my sulking and still pajama-clad frame I began to see today in a whole different light. 

These last 25 years?  These last two weeks?  I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  Not a single thing.

There is no romance novel that could capture the beauty of a marriage that has seen it’s few bumps and bruises, of one that has been written with the indelible ink of prayer and sacrifice.

The romance novels can have their flashy – because they simply got it wrong. 

They just flat out messed up love.  Page after page of trite and larger than life characters that somehow miss the point.  The glossy covers with rippling muscles and flowing hair and airbrushed, touched up perfection, it’s all just wrong.

Love doesn’t live in the bold declarations and the crushing first kisses.  And it doesn’t matter how many times you turn the page it always ends the same.  Thy guy gets the girl in some Hollywood-esque scene involving airports or sunsets or misty fields at dawn. 

Love comes in the small and the unexpected.  The quiet grace of an offering held in cupped palms before a heart that wasn’t sure to remember how to love.  Love comes without the pretense, it comes with gratitude unfolding into a holy wonder that makes your lose your breath. 

Love comes when a man bends his knee to ask God before he bends a knee to ask for her hand and then continues to bend that knee and serve with all of his heart.  The small notes that appear on the counter, in her lunch on her pillow signed always in the same way with a tiny heart beside his name.

Love is the small moments when he wraps his arms around her even when her back is rigid with the stress of the day and presses his lips just there in the nape.  Love happens when he sways with her, for just a moment, while she stands at the stove.  A gentle reminder of what came out of the small.

Love is the small moments and isn’t that just the miracle right there? 

It’s in the small that the miraculous happens.  It’s in the small that love blooms and flourishes.  It’s in the constant lowering of self and expectations that love can move mountains, scale fears and fight doubt.  

So yeah… this old married gal is defying the romance novels today and choosing the small to celebrate the big.  I’m choosing to let go of expectations and find the space to celebrate.

25 years of marriage didn’t occur in the pages of some book.

25 years of marriage was written on our hearts, in every second of every day that we’ve been on this oh so ordinary journey. 





  1. LOVE!!! You and this and the truth and brutiful beauty of it all! Happy Anniversary, my friend! (We celebrate 25years in October –and with a few unexpected turns already this year, we more than likely will not be taking the traditional route of celebrating… oh, but like you two, we will be celebrating just the same! xoxo


  2. Gayle Greven

    You got it right.

  3. Shellie Wilson

    You made me cry….so beautiful and so true. Don’t fear this new bump in the road…God has blessed you abundantly and will continue to do so…uncharted waters are what makes the ship stronger. You two are an inspiration. Happy Anniversary and continued blessings on your life of true love.

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