Today Chad and I are celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary. Every September 20, we try to think back on the past year, about how we’ve grown or changed or what went wrong and what went right. And my first thoughts this year are about sacrifice.
Marriage isn’t always about sacrifice. There are definitely times when you both get what you want and no one has to settle or wait. But many times, promising to share your life with someone else means giving up what you want. It means waiting until things to be right for both of you. It means making a change that benefits one person and not the other. It means shouldering responsibility you don’t necessary want. It means putting the other person’s needs ahead of your own, because in the end, it’s better for both of you.
In our marriage, sacrifice has come up in the area of work recently because we need to earn a living and yet work is stressful or complicated or stale or just no longer what we want it to be. So, together, we made– and are making– decisions about our jobs that have required one or both of us at different moments to make sacrifices.
What I’ve learned from our six years of experience is that you can’t keep score or expect to take turns. Life doesn’t always operate on tidy terms, where this time I sacrifice what I want and next you sacrifice what you want. I’ve learned that sacrifice is often easily made at first because you expect it to be temporary, but when it endures, it feels more and more like you’re making that same sacrifice over and over again every day. And I’ve learned that when you know the sacrifice is worth it, you can keep making it over and over again every day. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
I’m grateful that Chad and I have been able to talk about our marriage openly, that we can talk about what’s not only best for each person, but what’s best for our relationship. Because being able to talk about it and decide together has made it possible for me to never doubt our decisions no matter how I feel about what I may or may not have given up.
I often think about what life would be like if I hadn’t met Chad. He most likely wouldn’t live in New Jersey. We definitely wouldn’t have this house or our Olive Oil. Plus, thousands of other things that would have been different, from jobs to friends to hobbies and habits. I don’t know where my faith would stand because I know that Chad’s unwavering faith is something that bolsters mine. But Chad and I did meet and become friends ten years ago, and I am so grateful for that. I said just the other day that I can’t imagine being married to anyone else, and it’s true. And that makes all the sacrifices worth it– because the life I get in return is more than I could imagined.
To my favorite person, thanks for getting excited about having crazy backyard parties with our friends. Thanks for making breakfast and doing crossword puzzles with me on Saturday mornings. Thanks for planning an attic renovation with me and moving hundreds of rocks around our yard for our terraced garden. Thanks for always wanting to help other people and welcome them in. Thanks for having long conversations with me and laughing with me. Thanks for making sacrifices for me, for us.
The past six years have been harder than I would have thought at times and easier than I would have imagined at other times. I’ve given up some ideas of what I thought life would be like, but the reality of it has turned out to be, in many ways, more than anything I could have conceived. We have grown so much from the carefree college kids we started out as in France. And I know we’ll keep growing and changing together, and I can’t wait to keep going on this great big adventure with you. I love you and I choose you. Happy anniversary.