Thirteen Years

Around fourteen years ago I heard the voice of God while cruising on the Pacheco Pass. A couple of months before, Paula moved to Wheaton College to begin a graduate program in Psychology, and I knew our relationship would have to move forward or we would have to break up. So, in the midst of sorting through my ambivalence, and picking at my broken cuticles, a voice cut through to say that I needed to leave my cuticles alone in order for them to heal. I knew this was a commentary on my life. After this, I continued to think about Paula and my feelings for her, and more sharply than before the voice told me that I was not to seek my happiness in her, that my happiness was to be sought in God alone. Suddenly I felt a love for Paula I had not known. Perhaps the love was always there but obscured by my state of confusion, or perhaps it was birthed in that confrontation. I cannot say for sure. What I knew, however, was that I was going to marry Paula.

Yesterday we celebrated our thirteenth anniversary and we are still in love with one another, and our love has matured over the years. I would like to give an account for how this is so, as well as provide principles for a successful marriage, but it strikes me that even though thirteen years is no small accomplishment in our modern world, this would be a bit premature. Moreover, I cannot really point to any specifics as to why we have grown and thrived. It seems to me that relationships are an organic reality that does not readily submit to blueprints for success. Along with this, I sometimes feel that our success has been a luck of the draw, and yet, I know that successful marriages don’t just happen.

So, as I have looked back on our years together, two interrelated elements emerged that I think were critical to our success. First, is the awareness that we are both sinners. Second, is the conviction that marriage is not ultimately about our happiness and bliss. At this point I would like to provide some commentary on these elements, but after talking it over with Paula, I have decided to take her advice and let my readers do their own thinking about what I have written.

6 Responses to “Thirteen Years”

  1. Kevin Benson  

    Congratulations! Thirteen years is indeed no small accomplishment. I appreciate your comment about remembering that you are both sinners. I certainly find that I need to remember that I am a sinner. I have a tendency to find fault in Katrina when more times than not I need to be looking at myself. God has to keep reminding me of this.

    After we were engaged, Katrina had a picture of marriage as Hollywood vs. the Farm. Popularly, marriage is glamorous and beautiful and a smooth ride. In reality, it is more like a farm. It is beautiful, but it takes a lot of work and sometimes it smells. However, in the end, if it has been well tended, it bears great fruit.

    I fully realize that I am no expert after only six years, but these are some things that have been important to me.

  2. Roger Green  

    10 years here. Totally agree about moving forward or break up. Reminds me of the Alvy Singer line he broke up with Annie Hall, “What we have here is a dead shark.”

    A successful marriage needs compromise, not to principle but to each other. Of course, if you’re not on the same page principle-wise, chaos will ensue.

  3. Simon  

    Congratulations to you both!

    I’m trying to think of something witty to write here…

    Nope, a thirteen year marriage isn’t good wit fodder. Sorry dude, you’ll just have to make do with the congrats and nothing more 🙂

  4. K.L.B.  

    Happy Anniversary to you and Paula, Anthony!

    May your years together continue to be increasingly filled with the joys of wedded bliss, and may you both continue to lean upon one another and upon Him who is our true strength and joy.

  5. Melissa  

    So, wandering around your blog was NOT on my list of things to do today, but here I am and now you know it’s as hard for me to not leave comments in cyberspace as it is for me to not talk in person.

    That said… I liked what you said at the end even though you weren’t going to say any more. You asked Paula what she thought and then you thought about what she said. (Whether you agreed in the end is less relevant.) And I think that “asking and listening and thinking” is definitely another ingredient for a successful marriage. Well done in showing rather than telling. : )

  6. Jackie Rios  

    I love that last paragraph that you wrote, namely the part where you wrote what was critical to your success. Right on. Reminds me of the key elements in a book I recently read, “When Sinners Say I Do” by Dave Harvey