In honor of Valentine’s Day (we know I love this completely made-up holiday), I’m doing a mini series on our marriage. This will only be three posts–past, present, and future–and I’m just going to share snapshots of our relationship at different points. I hope you enjoy! (The past and the present here.)
My goal when we got married was to be married longer than Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. They were married for three years, and when Chris and I walked down the aisle, I remember thinking, let’s just beat Jessica Simpson’s record.
I have no idea why this was a thought in my head. It’s not like I thought we’d only be married for three years, but it was a goal and I felt like it was a good first milestone.
Good news: we beat Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey.
So, obviously, we’ve always been really good at setting goals for our marriage. If you need help with marriage goal-setting, we are your people.
Truthfully, dreaming big and fantasizing about the future is something that just started happening for us in the past few years. I think the chaos of addiction, debt, and small kids kept us from seeing too far down the road. We felt like if we couldn’t keep our heads above water in the moment what would be the point of looking ahead? If I could talk to my old self, I would say dream big anyway–it’s fun and hopeful and healthy.
But since I can’t redo the past, we’re just making up for it now. When I think about the next ten, twenty, and thirty years, I just get excited. And, really, I don’t know what is going to happen or where we’ll end up. But I know whatever is to come will be good and hard and full of laughter and bring tears and be exactly what we need.
I share the following dreams/goals with you knowing full well that we’re not in control of anything and things
might will change, but talking about what we want our lives to look like in a few years keeps us on track now with spending, career choices, and conversations.
Where we’ll be: Right here, in this same small, cozy house. We live about ten minutes south of downtown Indianapolis in a tiny lower middle-class community. Our friends are buying bigger homes and moving to the suburbs. We are not. While I would love more space and my own bathroom, we are committed to this place. Our three-bedroom house with one and a half bath is where we’re supposed to be. We will, in the next few years, turn the main living space in the basement into a suite for the girls, but we’re not going anywhere, we’re just going to get more creative with our space. God is teaching us a lot about contentment and how to use our resources wisely in this home and while I’m often tempted to dream about moving, we also submit to God’s prompting that this is where we belong.
Where else we’ll be: All over the country. I’ve mentioned before that one of our goals for our daughters is by the time they leave us for college, we’ll have visited all fifty states as a family. So in the next month or so, we’re buying a fifth wheel and getting it ready for some adventures. We want to travel as much as possible, that has been a dream for our marriage, and in the past two years it has started to become a reality. Our future will be spent on the road and I can’t wait to see where we end up.
Where we won’t be: Remember how Chris Graham quit his job as an exterminator last June to start with an electrical company? He was promised lots of things when he was offered a job there (that he didn’t apply for–it came to him) and now that he’s been there a while, it’s obvious that lots of promises are not being kept. Chris loves the work he’s doing, but is really unhappy with the company. It’s also not a very healthy place for a recovering addict to work, if you get my drift. There’s just a lot of things going on he can’t be around. So soon–maybe even next week–he’s heading back to his old job as an exterminator. We felt so strongly that God’s hand was in the career change and then felt so brokenhearted when it was not what we expected. But Chris learned being an electrician is something he really wants to do so he’s going to start schooling in the fall to become a licensed electrician while working as an exterminator. I have been praying for so long that Chris would find something he was passionate about and could make a career out of (a career that could support a family, come with benefits, etc.), and we felt so sure the job change was the start of that. It really knocked the wind out of our sails to realize this job wasn’t what we thought it was going to be. I believe God was doing it to show Chris something he was good at, but not with that company. It’s funny how I always think I know what God is answering and this is another example of him telling me to stop acting like a know-it-all and listen more. And maybe relax, too.
What we’ll be focusing on: traveling the country (see above), saving for college (we want to be financially prepared to pay for four years of college for both daughters–gulp), and living in community. I’m probably reacting slower than I’m supposed to, but come August, it’s go time). We want to continue to live debt-free; I know people have questions about this, and I’m planning a series for the beginning of April to talk about finances so stay tuned. Paying off debt was hard. Who knew staying debt-free is also a lot of effort? Blah. I think another goal we have, which we really don’t talk about much but probably should, is to push ourselves out of our comfort zone more. Like I said earlier, we’re in a lull and while I love the quiet, I also don’t want to become lazy. I feel we’re at a healthy spot, but growing together sounds exciting too. And finally, our primary focus is raising kids that aren’t turds. I take that job very serious.
These pictures hang on our fridge. They’re from a photo booth from a wedding in 2012 and when I look at them (which is often–I love all the delicious things in our fridge), they make me laugh. We had climbed into the photo booth and the pictures had started before we were ready, but they captured our relationship perfectly.
I’m swinging my hair around and getting everything situated while Chris Graham just sits with an odd look on his face waiting for me to say we’re ready. THIS IS OUR LIFE. Chris with a look of resignation and me making a scene. That is our past, our present, and our future. Some things never change. And those pictures remind me that whatever comes, we’ll get through it. There might be some hair flipping, weird looks from my husband, oversized sunglasses, and our timing will always be a little off, but we’ll just power through together. And if Chris could wear a fuzzy green hat while we do, that would be great.
(Random side note: I call my husband by his full name often. I don’t know why I do this; I’ve done it since before we were married and I have no intention of stopping. Welcome to my weird world.)
Thank you for your honesty, transparency and sense of humor. Maintaining a marriage can be difficult but so rewarding. I’m still sad that mine ended but know in my heart it was absolutely the right thing for my family. I can’t wait to see where your 5th wheel adventures take you! oh, BTW, everyone calls me by my full name too, I think it’s because it rolls off the tongue so easily 😉
Thank you for the compliments, Tam! I do understand that sometimes marriages end and it is for the best, but it still hurts a little, for sure. I can’t wait for the adventures either!! 🙂
I truly loved reading this series. Thank you for sharing what real love/real life looks like.
Should you make your way to Virginia with your fifth wheel, you must camp at Misty Mountain Camp Resort, outside of Charlottesville. It’s my happy place. Happy to make recommendations around that area, if interested.
Looking forward to your budgeting series.
We will make it to Virginia, probably 2017! We’re heading west this summer and I would love recommendations when we head that way. Thanks for reading and for your encouragement, Brandi!
George Jones says
Great series, as usual. You mentioned passion. Looking back on my 70 years, I can see that the things I was passionate about, I was most successful. Still true in retirement. Keep on writing! I can tell you are passionate about what you are doing. You have a mission!
Thanks, George! If I can get to the end and say I had a passionate life, I think that means I did right. 🙂
My husband and I will be celebrating our third anniversary this June. I just want to thank you for your honesty. I don’t know many couples who look to the Lord and it is very nice reading your posts. You have been a large influence in my life these past months. So, thank you Mary!
Thank you, Brooke! That’s so encouraging to hear and congrats on two and a half years of marriage–that’s something to celebrate because it’s hard! So you get to beat Jessica and Nick soon too! Ha. 🙂
Haha, yes, we will beat Nick and Jessica! I’m still a little sad they couldn’t make it work…Oh my goodness, marriage is extremely hard. I do think at times I make it more difficult than it really is. yet, it is also very sweet.