On Twenty Years of Marriage

May 23rd this year makes twenty years that Christi and I have been married. We got married in a whirlwind and we’re still twirling through life together after all these years. The day we were married there was a severe thunderstorm with tornadoes. The storm almost blew Christi’s grandparents and uncle off the road as they drove to the wedding. It also knocked out the power at the historic old train depot where we held the wedding and reception in Grifton, NC.

whirlwind of love

We got married by candle light in the sweltering heat and smothering humidity of eastern North Carolina. At our reception on the outside deck we danced our first dance to Don Williams’ “Years from Now.” The music resounded from a battery powered boom box as we twirled around together. Twenty years and six children—#6 is due in a few weeks!— later, we’re still dancing (mostly figuratively sometimes sillily); and we’re still loving each other.

There have been plenty of other storms. We made it through Hurricane Floyd together in 1999. We’ve also made it through many severe emotional storms when the high pressure of her OCD met the low pressure of my ADD. There have also been the storms where my high and unrealistic expectations, or hers, met the lows of reality. Some of those storms shook the very foundations of our otherwise happy home.

We’ve had lots and lots of good times; but we’ve had our fair share of bad times too. Sometimes the latter has been because of our bad choices and selfishness. Sometimes because of difficult circumstances that were out of our control. We’ve been through periods of great frustration, anxiety, spine-crushing pressure, sadness, and deep depression. In Christi’s case the latter has been clinical and required hospitalization a couple of times. Sometimes I was understanding and compassionate; sometimes I was resentful and selfish.

At times we have both hurt each other deeply. Sometimes we haven’t been able to stand each other. Now, thankfully, we mostly just understand and forgive each other. In many ways we have both changed so much for the better. In other ways not so much. But we choose to love each other anyway. And love her I do; I know she loves me too.

The negative aspects of life and people have a way of blinding us to the blessings right in front of our eyes. Sometimes our own insecurities mislead us to expect to be loved perfectly by one who is flawed and stumbles because of sin in many different ways. There is only One who loves us perfectly in all our imperfections. Through discovering that perfect love, we learn to love those who are sometimes, sometimes a lot of the time, unlovable. We also learn to be thankful for the good things of which there are many, none of which we should take for granted.

The day of our wedding I toasted my new wife with a quote from Proverbs: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (18:22). Christi, isn’t the best thing in my life; the love of God in Christ Jesus is. But Christi is a good wife. In fact she is a great wife, and because of that I am blessed beyond measure, more than I deserve.
There are seven reasons why we are forever joined together. The first is because we said I do and I will. The other reasons are our six wonderful children. Our six children, one for each of the active days of God’s work in creation (Genesis 1), remind us of our sharing in the ongoing work of creation, and the new creation as we make disciples of Jesus Christ. I told Christi when I first asked her to marry me that I believed God brought us together. There have been times we both doubted it. But we don’t doubt it today.

In love or out, we choose to act like we love each other every day. By act I don’t mean pretend; I mean we act on our decision to love. There’s a reason that love and faithfulness are virtually synonymous in the Bible. Love is much more than a fleeting and fluttering, sometimes faltering emotion. Love is a decision of the will to love because of, and sometimes, by the grace of God, in spite of.

Christi is one of the greatest blessings I have ever received. She is an amazing mother and she is an incredible wife, both in ways great and small. We got married in a whirlwind. We’ve held on to each other as God has held us up through all the storms. We’re still twirling through life together and loving each other every day. I thank the Lord, who is able to calm the storms around us and in us, and through the rushing mighty wind of the Holy Spirit is able to blow new life and love into us.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV

Cliff and Christi (1)

2 thoughts on “On Twenty Years of Marriage

  1. That could describe our marriage..( except the six children), we had two beautiful loving girls…Ups, downs, storms, but, knew we would make it to old age and rocking chairs…Thanks for the blog…

    Liked by 1 person

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