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Why My Marriage Lasting Isn't Just About Luck

07/03/2015 12:22 EDT | Updated 07/03/2016 05:59 EDT
Danya Stapleton

Today is our wedding anniversary.

Seven years married, 11 years together.

People look at the husband Conor is and tell me how "lucky" I am. He does the dishes whenever they need to be done (and they always need to be done). He doesn't bat an eye at being home with the three kids if I am off away somewhere. He listens to me with kindness, like a long lost friend catching up around the dinner table. He encourages me in my passions and listens to all my grand schemes that he knows I'll never follow through on. He wakes up with our kids so I can sleep and makes them the best French toast ever. He pulls our kids close and kisses them, teaches them, sings to them, walks with them through their heartaches. He dances with me in the kitchen, works himself ragged for our family and never ever complains about all the things he is doing less of now that we are a full house. I have only praise for him.

I also like to think that I love him with as much devotion and tenderness even though I'm the first to admit that sometimes I'm a bag of cray cray.

When they tell me I'm lucky to have him, I have to say, I don't believe it is because of luck. I actually don't believe in "luck" at all.

The fact is that we weren't always good to each other. We weren't always happy. We started out immature, selfish and defensive simply fuelled on passion for each other that we didn't know how to temper. We've had our share of faults and bad habits that we brought into this relationship. We've both done and said things we wish we could take back. And even though we've now found a groove as parents, there were months, years, where all of our existing problems bubbled to the surface under the pressures of having kids.

We both worked hard to make it through these eleven years. We paid money and twisted schedules to fit in (necessary) marriage counselling. Long late night talks on the couch where we both wanted to get up and leave, but we sat there, with tears in our eyes wondering how on earth we would make this work. Then there was the resentment, one of the most crippling scourges on a marriage. Resentment would fill up until our gazes were stone and we felt numb towards each other. Only kindness can melt resentment. Making your actions kind when your heart wants to call it a day is when devotion becomes intentional. Marriage has to be intentional through all the crusty, thorny, cold and disappointing parts.

I'm not saying we know it all. If a perfect marriage is cruising a back country road in a sports car, we are still tailgating at the lake in an old Ford. I am saying it's been a struggle, but that we both worked tremendously hard at loving each other better, differently and more wholeheartedly.

One of the hardest things in my life has been to let myself be open, be changed, be less controlling of how I love. Marriage has been one of the harder things in my life.

Just as I won't call it luck, we can't take sole responsibility either. I'm sure God could fill an ocean with my teary prayers to Him. Alone on a bedroom floor, lifting up our burdens to Him. Begging Him to give me more love, more patience, more passion, more humility in my marriage. For I have this in limited, tightly-clenched supply and God's is endless and flowing freely. If there is one prayer I rely on it is that God would bless us with the marriage He wants for us, rather than the one I think we need to have.

So, here's to 11 years. Where doors were shut, new ones opened. Where our hearts groaned and ached as they were being changed. Where we fought resentment and disappointment all because we longed for a friendship and love that outlast the painful times. Like I see my grandparents have.

I remember telling Conor when we got engaged, "If you thought I've loved you before, you ain't seen nothing yet." Though he just smiled, he's echoed this back to me. I thank God for him.

Shawna writes at Simple on Purpose where she shares how much she sucks at minimalism, her mom fails, that time she "Pretty Womaned" her husband and simplifying her closet. Also follow her on Facebook.

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