Would I Marry Him All Over Again?
The answer was seemingly simple—yet I hesitated.
Last weekend, Ben and I escaped to Cleveland for a weekend away. (I know what you’re thinking, “Ohio?!?” But listen: If you’ve never been to Cleveland, don’t knock it. The city is full of foodie food, great views, and the house from A Christmas Story. What more could you want?)
We went to Cleveland to celebrate the end of summer and to tie a bow on fifteen years of marriage. I love spending time with my man, especially when we get to explore new cities. But this particular weekend, we were both quite tired. We decided to trade a museum for lounging in our B&B in the middle of the afternoon (a NOVELTY for anyone with kids). Getting a little introspective, I turned to him and asked, “Hey…knowing everything you know now, and all we’ve been through, would you still choose me?”
“Oh, absolutely!” he responded confidently, barely letting the question escape my lips.
He turned the tables, “What about you? Knowing all that you know now, would you still marry me?”
I let the question sink in. Probably a few seconds too long. My mind began to draw circles around that phrase: knowing all you know now. The good. The commonplace. The one hundred ways we’d both changed. I thought about the multiple career changes, the five years one or both of us were in grad school, or the thirteen times we moved since saying “I do.” I thought about all the tears I cried into his chest, and all the times he’d make me erupt in laughter. Over my shoulder, I felt the old ghosts of doubts weathered, feelings hurt, and the grief that ravaged our hearts. Yet I shooed them away by reminding myself how we had pulled together in those seasons and emerged stronger.
But to be honest, the last two years have been the biggest test of our marriage. Four busy boys, a move back to the Midwest, a new job, career uncertainties, and new hustles have left us bone tired. While we have always loved time together, more and more we find ourselves crashing on our individual couches watching FRIENDS reruns after kids are in bed. It’s difficult to create conversation that covers more than essentials. We’re just so stinking tired.
And if I’m being really EXTRA honest, I would tell you that some days, after corralling our four sons and finding time to work from home, the last thing I want is to be near another human—even my favorite one. I want to crawl in a tiny hole and have people just forget that I exist for a little while. I want to dive deep into my exhausted melancholy and let the world cater to me for once.
But that’s not how marriage works—at least not when it’s good, anyway.
Loving another human at this level is certainly rewarding, but true love requires a measure of being emptied. Marriage has its way of grinding up against our innate selfishness. It reveals not only our misconceived ideas about love and commitment, but also the ugly bits we tried so desperately to hide while dating. And I believe God designed it this way for a reason. But so often, instead of letting marriage do its winnowing work, to let God use it to refine us, we revolt. We point fingers. We pick out flaws and dangle forgiveness only as a prize for changed behaviors. More than once, I have quite literally stamped my foot and shook my fist of fury at Ben, demanding to get my way. (See what I mean? Ugly.)
And it’s in those moments that singleness can seem so glamorous. Or, at least, less complicated. (Singles, please know this is one hundred percent a “grass is always greener” sentiment on my part. I know that life—whether married or single—comes with its share of “hard.” One is not better than the other.)
But I think it is here—in this grasping for what’s ours—where many marriages begin to disintegrate and so many end in divorce. We blame falling out of love, but really, it’s that we have shifted our love from the other person to ourselves. Somewhere, we expected our spouse to complete us, to fill in our gaps and make us something we’re not, but over time, it becomes painfully obvious that ain’t gonna happen.
Making me whole isn’t Ben’s burden to bear. My identity is not designed to be rooted in him, in our marriage, or in our family. Two humans cannot fix what’s broken in each other. Sure, marriage can be a safe haven to thrive, to find grace and support and growth. And it should be! But marriage only works for the long haul if we find our wholeness in Christ.
This perspective doesn’t come naturally. Too often I expect too much from Ben. While he’s my favorite human, he is only human. But by shifting the deep needs of my soul off of Ben and on to God, something beautiful happens: Even when I feel unseen or misunderstood, I can still love Ben because my joy is rooted in something, in Someone, much greater. I don’t have to point fingers or lay blame or put walls up around my heart, because my heart is already secure. I am held. I am seen, and God’s presence is enough for me in all things, all the time. And when that sinks down into the fibers of my being, I am free to love Ben unconditionally. To give without expectation. To say, “Yes, I would marry you all over again.”
Because I would. I would put this life on repeat.
It won’t all be a weekend away in Cleveland. Deep connection and lifelong commitment is at moments nail-bitingly hard. But like so many things in life, there’s a sacredness lurking behind the struggle—an opportunity for God’s glory to peek through and for His grace to fall fresh. I would marry Ben all over again, accepting all the good and the bad, the holding hands and the foot-stamping, the laughter and the lulls, with open and grateful hands.
Please Note: All marriage is complicated, but not all marriages are unsafe. I write this with full knowledge that you might be in such a marriage, one fraught with abuse. While I believe fully in God’s redemptive power, I am NOT suggesting that you keep yourself or your family in an unsafe situation. Sometimes love requires some distance. If you are in an abusive marriage (whether physical, mental, emotional, etc.), please be empowered to seek help from a friend or a trusted pastor or counselor who can help you navigate what’s next.