When my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary recently, I looked back at our wedding pictures. Who were those kids?! We got married 19 years ago, and I can’t believe that next year it will be 20 years. We’re talking about something extra special to do for that anniversary, maybe go on a trip somewhere we haven’t been — by ourselves!
When I look at our wedding pictures I see two happy, young, wrinkle-free faces. I realize that we aren’t the same people now that we were then. While the core parts of each our personalities are the same, we have both changed so much over the years. Two states, two children, different jobs, and just growing up have transformed us from the twenty-somethings in the wedding dress and tuxedo to a couple balancing full time jobs, a household, and being parents of a child and a teenager. We have been together through unspeakable loss and the most exciting celebrations of our lives. We’ve welcomed children into the world and started multiple new chapters together.
As I looked at pictures of us from then and now, a phrase kept coming to my mind. Keep discovering each other and having new adventures. Even though we have been together for so long, through all this time we keep discovering things about each other. Just like the popular phrase that “it’s the journey, not the destination,” the same is true for building a life together. And it’s so important because we won’t be the same people in 10 or 20 years that we are now either. Marriage is hard work. It isn’t pre-packaged or a fairy tale waiting for us. It’s real work that requires late night talks, honesty, the courage to disagree even when it’s inconvenient, taking the time to get to the heart of what’s going on with each of us every week, and the freedom and the joy to let each other be our own genuine, real selves with each other. But it’s also the joy of being excited for each other, being proud of each other, doing thoughtful things for each other, laughing together, and just having fun. The challenge is to keep discovering each other even when you know each other so well. Why does he think this way, and how do I think that way? I continue to see that it’s our different points of view that make our lives so much better and more interesting. While we agree on our core values, beliefs, and ideals, our different perspectives and experiences make us both better.
I think about couples I know who have been married so much longer that 20 years is short in comparison. Couples who have been married, 40, 50, even 60 years. What do they keep discovering as they go through all of those seasons of marriage?
On our anniversary date, I told him, “I don’t care how old we get, I always want to go new places together and have new experiences.” And with that in mind, I think we’ll start planning our 20th anniversary trip.