Several of my friends recently participated in the "Love Your Spouse" challenge on Facebook. I was nominated by a friend, but I didn't have a lot of photos of us handy, so I declined to participate. That was one reason. Another was that I wasn't sure about participating with spotlight photos of us that would present a "picture" of us for everyone to see...and compare to.
Do you ever look at photos of married couples who look so perfect and so happy and wonder, "Do they ever have challenges that cause them heartache? Are they always loving like that? Do they ever doubt?" An article posted today by a blogger who refused to participate in the challenge said something like we know and see one hundred percent of our lives, but Facebook only shows five percent. And we compare that real-life one hundred percent with everyone else's five percent of perfection. She then went on to post pictures of her and her husband fighting, driving in the car while lost and late, sleeping on the couch while trying to watch a movie because they're so exhausted. It was funny, but it was also more accurate. This girl was a young mom in the throws of nursing and sleepless nights with babies. She was tired and feeling real.
After reading that article I thought about my friends who posted. It occurred to me that I didn't have many young friends who posted. Most of the posts on my feed came from older couples. Not old in age, but more seasoned in marriage. They posted pictures of their marriages years earlier and of more recent trips and current activities, and all with appreciative comments. Why were most of my friends who posted more seasoned couples? I have a theory.
The good stuff, the really good stuff comes later in the journey.
The true appreciation we gain for our spouses comes later. It comes after the honeymoon years, after the kids are nearly grown, after illness, the loss of parents, the gut-wrenching, drive-you-to-your- knees trials...after refining experiences that help us see through different eyes. I see many young people declare that they married their best friend. I didn't. But he became my best friend on our journey. He's had my back through some difficult periods, and I've had his. When I look at that cute (very young) couple in the picture posted above, I no longer think, "young love birds," or "what a beautiful couple," or any of the idealistic things we think about the couples in wedding photos. At this stage in life I think, "They had no idea what the journey would be like." And I see how far they have come. I don't even feel like that girl in the photo anymore.
To sum up my thoughts I would give the following advice--As you look at those "Love Your Spouse" challenge photos, remember that they are not perfect couples. That they've been through some tough trials. They argue like you do, they cry like you do, and they've been on their knees many, many times just like you have. The joy is in the journey, and the reward comes later on.
After twenty nine years of marriage I can boast that we've hung on. We've stayed together through doubt, discouragement and despair. Our faith is the reason that we keep walking. We both have loyal personalities, but we both have strong testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We keep trying because we want to make it. We also love each other deeply and appreciatively. I can't imagine going through life with anyone else. I married the person that was going to challenge me to grow, although I didn't know that at the time. He's funny and sweet, hardworking and diligent, resilient and compassionate, and the best partner in parenting. I learn from his example, and I am lighter because of his sense of humor and positive personality.
Next time you come across one of those challenges and look longingly at the perfection, remember that there's ninety-five percent of that story not showing. Don't compare. Do your best and keep walking forward improving yourself and your relationship wherever you can. Appreciate your journey and embrace it.
Heather and I went to the DMV today so she could get her permit. She passed the test and is now officially allowed to drive a car. Well, after she completes her six hours of behind-the-wheel training. But she's on her way! Awesome job Heather!
Thanks to a moment I captured on my phone as well as one Aunt Beth captured with her phone and our selfie stick, we have a couple of pictures from Christmas day. I must have loaded the pictures from our good camera and pulled the card out before they processes properly. We have an empty folder in our iPhoto marked 12/25/15. I'm so sad! I guess the most important part is documenting who was with us. Grandpa Ron joined us as well as Aunt Beth and Uncle Kevin. Our big presents for the girls were iPhone upgrades for all of us. They were thrilled, especially Jenna who has been using her phone with the cracked and shatter screen.
We had a lovely Christmas and were blessed beyond belief. The gifts for our family and from our family always make me feel a little guilty because there is so much. I'm grateful for the blessing of having an abundant life. We had a lovely turkey dinner and had some fun playing games with our aunt and uncle who stayed for a few days. We even got to go see the new Star Wars movie with them.
We are truly grateful for the birth of our Savior, the most important event in the history of the world next to his Atonement and resurrection. We are so blessed to have a knowledge of His gospel.
Christmas Eve always feel so cozy. The house is clean, the presents wrapped...I love sitting down just before bed in the quiet house and starting at the tree. It feels like anything magical is possible for those few wee hours. This year I caught Santa filling the stockings! There was a fun app we used to catch him. There is an app for everything. Can't wait to welcome Christmas morning tomorrow!
Jenna has been experimenting with some press on nails. Today she got her nails ready for Christmas by painting some designs on top. She has gotten SO good at her designs! We are impressed!!!
Later on we brewed some hot cocoa, put it in cups and grabbed our friends to head over and see the Christmas lights in our favorite Fountain Valley neighborhood that goes all out. The girls wrote letters to Santa and put them in the mailbox, and we found our favorite tree. This is always so festive, and we were so glad to have our dear friends, Michelle and Sarah, join us!
Work at my dad's was put on hold after Michelle's last visit in October. We needed a break. After finding out that Michelle wasn't going to be able to return until next May at the earliest, I made a plan to try to get the rest of the stuff down the mountain. On December 5, Heather volunteered to go with me to be my assistant. We donned masks to protect us from the dust and nicotine smell. She was a trooper helping me put things in boxes and load the truck. Once again, I thought I could get everything in one load, but the truck filled up fast. When I realized I wasn't going to get it all in one trip (we were working on the back room that was filled to the brim with stuff), we called it a day and headed down the mountain. We had a yummy dinner at the farmhouse before heading to Grandpa's new place to unload. Kelly and Jenna helped unload.
On 12-19, I made a trip up myself. Heather had had enough, and it felt like my burden to bear, so I went alone. I was pretty confident I could finish up. I had told Dad that I wanted to get him moved before Christmas and before the rain and snow started. I stopped along the way to take pictures since it had snowed recently. It is really pretty in the mountains, and I can see why people like Idyllwild. I finished the back room and collected everything from the living room, kitchen and other rooms that I could. I left my dad to pack the bathrooms and whatever else he wanted to take explaining to him that he needed to make this a final trip. With another loaded truck packed to the brim, I headed down the mountain. There was a storm coming in so I hit some clouds on the way, but otherwise made it down just fine. Kelly, Heather and Jenna helped unload again.
My dad followed me a few days later with his car packed also. He informed me he left his television and cable box along with a few other things for his "next trip." I don't understand what he's thinking. He has a buyer, and they want to make a deal. The weather is going to be bad the next several weeks which makes travel unsafe. I guess it's a hard transition, and he isn't ready to say good-bye yet? I don't know. He doesn't communicate all his thoughts even when I ask questions and give him my thoughts on what I see that needs to be done. He's been alone and independent for a very long time, and I guess he isn't used to communicating. I guess he'll make another trip up when the weather clears.
I'm a wife and mother of two of the sweetest girls ever. In my former life, I was an elementary school teacher. I love learning and sharing experiences, and the chance to journal for posterity. I wish I knew as much about my ancestors as my posterity is going to know about me!