I didn't post it then, but yesterday The Viking and I celebrated 16 years of marriage. Now I'm REALLY starting to feel old. I suppose having a daughter that is nearly 15 and being only 2 years away from 40 myself didn't do it, but 16 years of marriage did. Okay, enough numbers.
The Viking and I met when we were both 18 (okay, I lied, more numbers); me only just and he barely any longer. I was the only Freshman in a Sophomore Music Theory class. He says he couldn't help but notice me. He was intrigued by how cute and quiet I was. I thought he was a terrible flirt but had a great smile.
We didn't start dating until ten months after we'd met. It's long story, but we both dated other people before finding our way to each other. It was during a game of Truth or Dare that he asked me out. The only reason I said yes was because I thought he was kidding and wouldn't expect it. He'd been teasing me for weeks about marrying me and having children with me and it didn't occur to me that he was at all serious. When I found out later that he was, I was ready to cut and run (I had just been dumped badly), but he managed to talk me into it.
We were one of those couples who were always laughing, always playing, always having tons of fun. We were asked once if we got to go on dates much (we were part of a touring singing group representing our college at the time) and before we could answer, another member of the group chimed in, in a rather irritated tone, "Every single day is like one long date!" I had never known anyone who made me laugh like The Viking did. And never had I known anyone who thought I was so funny.
We got engaged on Valentine's Day 1993. The Viking proposed then because he knew it was the only day I wouldn't expect him to. He was right. I figured a man as unconventional and creative as he would never do something as predictable as proposing on Valentine's Day of all days. It was a Sunday that year and we were scheduled to sing at the church where his dad is pastor. I was sick with a terrible head cold and could not for the life of me understand why we couldn't reschedule and was actually quite angry with The Viking the entire morning. But when the song was over and he didn't move to get off the stage but instead turned to me while reaching into his jacket pocket and slowly bending down on his knee, it all became clear! He had gone to a lot of trouble to make things memorable. He had even arranged for my entire family to be there and his sister and mother threw us a surprise engagement party after the service. Nothing could have surprised me more!
And so we married. It was the happiest day of my life, nothing but wonder and delight from start to finish. I still love getting our wedding album out and lingering over each photo. We always joke that we're going to bring out the video and make the kids watch it on our anniversary, but we haven't done it yet (for some reason we planned an unbearably long ceremony, something I would do differently if I had the chance to do it again).
After a long, luxurious honeymoon in St. Thomas, our life together began. With a vengeance. While she wasn't a honeymoon baby, Redheaded Snippet came into our lives much sooner than either of us had anticipated. There we were, a mere three months after getting married, telling everyone we were pregnant. I never saw so many people counting backwards in their heads in my life! Sometimes I would scowl and say, "We married in June and I'm due in June THAT'S TWELVE MONTHS!" I'm sure everyone was waiting to see if we wound up having a very large, very healthy "premature" baby by the time March rolled around. Which isn't a very good joke considering what we went through later...
Redheaded Snippet's arrival changed me more than anything else in my life, except for the deaths of my boys later on. She gave me purpose. She made me a woman. I felt as if parts of my soul that I didn't even know existed sprang into life the moment I first held her. But, sadly, I cannot find any other baby pictures of her on our computer!
There are almost no photos of us during the period between Redheaded Snippet's birth and Man-Cub's nearly six years later. Frankly, we were just too miserable. We faced unemployment, poverty, homelessness, debt, illness, and frequent hospitalization not to mention the deaths of two infant sons during that period. Practically the first seven years of our marriage was set in crisis mode.
Where Redheaded Snippet brought purpose, Man-Cub brought healing. God had had to cut painfully deep in order to teach me to trust him and Man-Cub was a balm that soothed my wounds so they could heal. I don't think he will ever understand the good he has done for me, and in some ways I hope he never has to.
While we never, in God's grace, lost sight of joy, happiness (which can never, ever be mistaken for joy as they are quite different), took some time to reappear. But reappear it did. We learned to be carefree again.
We took the trip of a lifetime (there we are in front of the Five Sisters window in York Minster in York, England).
We even began acting silly again (as Dog the Bounty Hunter and his wife, Beth for Halloween).
Real life still has its challenges. The Viking has chronic back problems. I have hypoglycemia. He's lost hair, I've gotten fat. Finances are always a worry. And we have a teen-aged daughter. Enough said, right?
One of The Viking’s co-workers, upon hearing that yesterday was our 16th Anniversary, congratulated him on “getting over the hump”. When The Viking asked what he meant he explained that statistics show that most marriages end between the 7th and 15th anniversaries. So we’ve gotten over the hump. Which seems to imply that the worst is over and it’s smooth sailing from here on out.
Obviously, no one knows what lies ahead for any of us. With all we’ve been through together, it’s hard to imagine that the worst is not behind us. But we know that God does not promise to make us happy or comfortable. He only promises to make us more like his son, through whatever means he deems most effective. That is the good he works out for those that love him, not the things we like to think of as good like love, marriage, children, wealth, or health.
There is much more ahead that God will use to make us more like him. We may be over one hump but we are sure to face many more. And we will face them as we’ve faced all the others—together.
Happy Anniversary to my husband, my lover, my protector, my helper, my playmate and my friend.