Ten Years Ago, We Fell in Love

Note: Our story is our story; marriages can be quite different and face unique challenges. We just hope to encourage those with what we’ve learned in our life.

Best Decision of My Life

On Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I will celebrate more than ten years of marriage. We were very nearly babies when we wed–I was twenty years old and he was twenty-one. We were very grown up, or so we thought.

Honestly though, despite being young, it was the best decision we ever made. I remember hearing people who had been married for twenty years say they were more in love than ever with their spouse. At the time, that concept made no sense to me. I couldn’t imagine being more in love with this guy.

We dated for three years, half of which was our engagement.  Despite my “plan” to have a career before I entered into a serious relationship, we fell in love pretty early on in our relationship. We attended a Christian liberal arts university and I was bound and determined not to be there for my “MRS.” However, God had other plans for my life.  We married before our senior year of college. After we graduated, we moved out of state so my husband could attend law school in his hometown.

We Fell In Love, Yet I Was Miserable

Year one was a breeze. I thought marriage was not hard.

Year two was the most stretching year of our relationship.

He was in law school, I was in a new town, surrounded by everyone who knew my husband and his family but not me, and I was working but incredibly lonely. What happened to college where all our friends had time to hang out every day and come over any time? How fair was it that I was being a “grown up” starting my career while he was still in school? Why was this town so small and why is there no decent retail? These were all things my twenty-two-year-old self was struggling with daily.  I was married to the love of my life. I worked in my degree field in a job that was a great fit. And yet, I was miserable.

I did not understand why the second year was so much harder. For goodness’ sake, we were in love! We had even gone through two premarital counseling sessions for “extra-good premarital preparedness training.” Because I thought that both of us being believers, doing extra premarital counselling, plus having successfully married parents, made us experts. Oh, and don’t you know, we knew each other incredibly well and had discussed everything under the sun.  (Cue eyeroll…remember, I was twenty-two).

Or did we?

Our new church family became the reason we have the marriage we do today. They challenged us in our own relationships with Christ in new and profound ways. We realized we both had a lot of spiritual growth to do. I realized that as amazing as my new husband seemed (and is), he is a human and will let me down somehow. He doesn’t mean to, but it happens. And I let him down, even though he has never told me as much, but I’m sure I have at some point.  We learned a lot of things about each other, but most importantly we learned how to live for Christ, to die to ourselves, and to grow in our faith more deeply than we had before.

It came down to this: the closer each of us grew in Christ independently, the better and deeper our relationship grew together.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

As it turns out, that’s also a progressive transformation.

The Secret to a Great Marriage

Over the years, we’ve participated in some awesome and challenging marriage studies with small groups, such as Eggerich’s Love and Respect, John Piper’s Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Saving your Marriage Before It Starts by Les and Leslie Parrott. Each one provided great tools and things to consider or work on in a new way, but it comes down to your own relationship with God. You will be a better spouse when you are working on your relationship with the Lord. It’s not magic. It all takes time and intentional investment, but that’s the secret.

Ten years and four kids later, I can now say that I’ve never been more in love with my husband. I understand him in a deeper way. He challenges me to be in the Word, and works tirelessly to “fill my love tank” daily (see The Five Love Languages).  He leads our family devotions each night and parents better than I do, and none of it has anything to do with me.  Yes, we both are very different people than we were ten years ago. Little by little, we’re becoming new people in Christ. If we were the same people we were ten years ago, I don’t know if our marriage would have lasted. (I hate to think that, but the selfishness in both of us was unsustainable.)

There are still occasional tough days, and we each still have a lot of work to do. But there are a lot of wonderful days. I can’t wait to see where we are in another ten years.


Comments ( 17 )
Add Comment
  • Kristin

    The best work we can do for our marriage is to work on our spiritual life with God. I’m convinced. We got married young too and I’m amazed at how much we have grown by the grace of God! Thanks for sharing your story! Happy 10 year anniversary!

  • Lori at Encourage Your Spouse

    We’re coming up on 33 years in marriage, and I can relate with your story. Our second year was the hardest also. (for different reasons – but still hard)

    I’m thrilled that you were supported and encouraged by your church famly to grow – that’s key I believe! I’d love to know whether you had specific mentors for your marriage and if so, how they sowed into you both…

    Your almost last statement “…the selfishness in both of us was unsustainable.” makes me ponder. I think we go in ebbs and flows with selfishness, and that it can creep in at all stages/times. Hmmm. Need to keep thinking on that… You’re so right – selfishness in marriage is unsustainable – the relationship will not grow (and thereby die). Thanks for the points to ponder!

    • Elizabeth P

      Primarily, it was our pastor and his wife. They have directly fed into our marriage and mentored us for a long time. We are literally eternally grateful for their love. You’re right, and as I mentioned, it certainly is a work in progress and yes, things do ebb and flow. However, we’ve found once we’ve identified and been deliberate against something such as broader selfishness in our marriage, it’s much easier to not fall back into that old habit or to catch it quickly. Things arise and hard times come, but intentionally abiding in Christ on a consistent basis (even if it’s one-sided) helps combat so much selfishness and bitterness which could easily become the default otherwise.

  • Meagan Needham

    Great post! Happy anniversary! My husband and I have had a rough couple of years. He is starting a new business and it keeps him extremely busy so we don’t spend a lot of quality time together. But you are right, my relationship with God is what has helped me get through and keep loving my husband regardless.

    • Elizabeth P

      Thank you!

      There can surely be some rough seasons in marriage. I can relate to having a husband who is spending a lot more time on a job than I need him to, you’ll be in my prayers as you both navigate this tough time. It’s true that faithfulness to God and abiding in Him is one of the only ways we have the grace to get us through.

  • Terri

    Great post with some great insight, communication is a good key for any relationship.

  • Alice Mills

    My husband and I have learned to love each other as we have learned to love God. The two go hand in hand. If only more people could access this truth.

  • Heather Hart

    Congratulations on 10 years of marriage! My husband and I just passed that milestone as well. One of my favorite resources that I discovered early on was the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge by (then) Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It totally changed the way I thought about my husband.

    • Elizabeth P

      Thanks Heather, I’ll look into that one. Always good to hear about new resources.

  • Andrea

    If God made the marriage, He will bless the marriage!

  • Amy Christensen

    A great post, Elizabeth and you are right. We all have different marriages, but one thing holds true for all of us, it is our relationship with the Lord that will make us the person we should be for our spouse. Thanks for sharing. – Amy

  • Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven not Harvard

    Congratulations! We celebrated our 10th last November. I’m with you – I couldn’t imagine loving him more that day, but now I understand it. We are continuing to be challenged together and becoming closer and closer together.

  • Tara

    We did Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts nearly 15 years ago before we got married. We still refer back to some of the activities we did in there!

  • Aleida

    Thank you for sharing your story and references. The 5 love languages play a role in our marriage a well.