Jun 232020 3 Responses

Had I Known Twenty Years Ago…

(In honor of Jenny on our 20th wedding anniversary, I’ve written a letter to my 22-year-old self telling me what marriage will be like. If you want to read more, check out Happily or Friends, Partners and Lovers)

Dear Kevin,

It’s a big day. I know you are excited and you have good reason to be. What’s about to happen in the front yard of this country home in front of 100 friends and family is going to better your life in ways that you can’t begin to imagine.

You have high expectations. There is no need to temper them. While some aspects of marriage will be different than you expect, not many will disappoint. Sure, there will be things you regret, moments you aren’t at your best, and some situations which are ripe with misunderstandings. But by and large, things will be very good. You will figure it out. She’ll grow in her understanding of your cautious nature and you will learn to appreciate her adventurous spirit. She will get you to eat salad and salmon while you will eventually convince her that no matter what she says you’re having chicken strips for lunch. You will never get her to call the Hogs, but at least she will eventually stop saying “Boomer Sooner.”

There will be heartbreak, but in a strange way those might be the moments you look back on with the most fondness. You’ll appreciate not walking alone through life’s toughest days. You’ll see how her faith is even stronger in the midst of suffering and she’ll make you love Jesus more even as you hope for what lies ahead. (See: Jenny’s List of What Makes a Marriage Work)

It’s going to be good, Kevin. Marriage is going to suit you well. It’s going to be so good that you will be naive enough to try to encourage others toward stronger marriages. And Jenny will be right there beside you–working without much acknowledgment, serving while you’re in the limelight, sitting in the audience from L.A. to D.C. responding as though that’s the first time she’s ever heard that joke and acting like she’s totally comfortable with you talking to a room full of strangers about sex.

Marriage will be good, but there is one thing you will find out over the next two decades–Jenny’s even better than you think.

You know she has a loving heart, but you don’t know how kind and forgiving she will be, never holding a grudge against you or others.

You know she has faith, but you don’t know how much time she will spend trying to help others love Jesus and better navigate their lives.

You know she is a servant, but you don’t know how she will continually sacrifice in order to serve others who could never repay her kindness.

You know she is adventurous, but you don’t know the places she will take you and how (eventually, not in the moment) grateful you will be that she took you up that scary road, across the high cliff, through the bear habitat, and to views you never thought possible.

You know she loves her family, but you don’t know how important it is to her that she honor them in who she is and what she does. And you don’t know how that devotion will increase when you have kids of your own.

You know she loves you and that you love her, but you don’t know how much deeper that love will go as you spend the next twenty years navigating life together.

She’s not perfect, Kevin. She never will be. And you won’t live in denial with her on a pedestal pretending everything is without blemish. Instead, even the failures and frailties will make you love her more–the times she will be wrong and show humility in admitting it, the times you will be wrong and she will give you the grace you need, the laughter that will come as you both struggle to communicate and understand each other even after all these years. (See: What Jenny and I Can’t Do)

You have high expectations of marriage and it will be very good.

You have high expectations of her and she will be even better.

So go say “I do.” Do it before she has a chance to reconsider. She doesn’t need you, Kevin. She has graciously chosen you. Never take that for granted.

From an older, not necessarily wiser, Kevin

P.S. Lay off the croissants for the next year. If you don’t, you will gain thirty pounds and then spend then next 19 years trying to lose it.

P.P.S. I know you will probably make big plans for your 20th anniversary, but don’t be surprised if you spend that night at home with your kids. Maybe your 21st will be spent in Iceland and Ireland.


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