My husband, Chris, and I have been through a lot in the last 15 years of our relationship. Marriage, job loss, infertility, foreclosure, bankruptcy, four failed adoptions, a major move from Illinois to Colorado, being foster parents to 16 children within a 2 year period (lots of loss involved there), the foster/adoption of our son Nathan, the surprising birth of our biological daughter, Annabella, my near death experience after giving birth, loss of our business as a result of the time Chris took off to take care of me and the kids, difficulties with our son post adoption, ministry hardships and so much more. (That’s just to name a few.)
People have often asked us how we’ve stayed married through all of this. Especially since, in today’s day and age, divorce is the new commitment. If it gets too hard you can always bail out. Most couples getting married, or talking about marriage, have their “out strategy” planned. Being a youth pastor I’ve heard many young people say, “I’m committed to the relationship until they do __________.” Our society’s “Have it Your Way” mentality, which is the McDonald’s slogan for having your sandwich with or without pickles, has morphed into how we view marriage. “I liked my spouse when we married, but now those things that I thought were cute are now annoying. So, I’m out.” Many couples hit the Escape button when things get too uncomfortable. And we’re teaching the next generation to do the same.
(Disclaimer: There are lots of exceptions. Every realtionship has two people, and they deal with their own set of issues, personalities and experiences, etc.)
I am not trying to start a debate about marriage, or tell anyone how to live their life. However, Chris and I entered into this marriage knowing there’s only one way out; death. This idea sounds terribly morbid, however it’s Biblical. Plus, we knew each other really well before we got married. Not completely, but really well. And my parents raised me to be a committed person. My dad said on hundreds of occasions, “Dittmer’s don’t quit!” (my maiden name) So, when Chris and I got married we knew what we were getting into. His constant talking and trying to make jokes…I knew about it. My constant correcting, or “mothering” as he’s called it…he knew about. So, they’re not reasons to bail. It’s become a family joke, “I knew exactly what I was getting into, so it’s my fault!”
With that said, our marriage is not perfect. We are continuously working on ourselves and our marriage. But, we are unified in our efforts. We like being together. Spending time together is important to us, both alone and with our children. My husband is my best friend and I am his. We make a focused effort to maintain unity in our marriage, and we try to keep our priorities in order:
4. Everything else
Sometimes I fail. Actually, I fail way more than I succeed. But, I’m aware of the times I falter, whether by intuition (that snazzy women’s intuition) or by being told, or rather putting my foot in my mouth and having someone remove it for me. And I make an effort to correct it.
Unity in my marriage is extremely important to me. Knowing that my husband has my back and I have his provides me with the stability I need to function as a wife and mother, and wear the many hats that I do. My husband is a hard worker. He goes to work every day and gives 110%, no excuses. He is also a towering example of fatherhood and leadership for our family, church and community. He leads by example and I am proud to be his wife.
So, to answer the question of how we’ve stayed together through the good times and the bad times; through the well-to-do times and the Ramen noodle poor times; through sickness and health, until death do us part? Our bond is strong because we stay focused on Jesus and on each other. And nothing will divide us.