When I look at this picture - part of me feels all mushy gushy, part of me laughs thinking that I thought I knew what I was doing, and part of me wants to go back and shake those little kids and say - It's true! It's all true! All that stuff about marriage being hard work is true!
The past 8 years have been nothing short of a miracle of grace in my life. As I look back on our adventure so far - I want to remember that at this moment - 8 years in - this is what marriage is to me...
Marriage is, a few weeks after your beautiful wedding celebration, realizing that the counseling you got was going to be used more than expected.
Marriage is learning that apparently hampers are not universally used objects.
Marriage is learning that your wife doesn't always put the lids on things well.
Marriage is your husband talking you in to bringing home two puppies and looking at him and still saying "Mom is going to kill me."
Marriage is buying the house with the awful blue tile and the falling apart fence because there are so many other things you like about it, and together working to make it into a home.
Marriage is holding your spouse when the desire to have a baby is overwhelming and everyone else gets pregnant by looking at each other the right way.
Marriage is learning to [attempt] to speak each other's love language - even when you are opposites and it's not easy.
Marriage is cheering your spouse on and believing in their dreams - and celebrating when the promotion that took too long to get here is finally here.
Marriage is taking awesome trips and making memories together, and sometimes its going nowhere, making dinner at home and sitting on the couch watching reruns.
Marriage is going to the store at midnight for pregnancy tests because when the miracle baby you prayed and prayed for might be on the way, but your wife needs confirmation NOW.
Marriage is sometimes being so mad you could literally spit nails, but instead say "I love you, right now I don't like you or this, but I love you and I'm not going anywhere."
Marriage is driving your wife to
3 ... 5 ... 6 ... 8 different restaurants and then going home and ordering pizza because she never knows what she wants.
Marriage is a smirk and an eye-roll when your husband retells the story for the seven-thousandth time and the number gets bigger each time.
Marriage is watching your husband fall in love with another person - even more than he loves you it feels - and being totally okay with it.
Marriage is coming home and quietly backing away with your hands up in surrender after asking if you can help - when you find your postpartum wife crying in the kitchen with no good explanation other than she is exhausted, she is hungry and she doesn't know whose or what bodily fluid is covering her two day old clothes.
Marriage is re-learning everything you thought you knew about each other when a baby flips your world upside down.
Marriage is sacrifice - because now it's not just about us.
Marriage is throwing ice water over the shower curtain - at least once.
Marriage is watching each other figure out this whole parenting thing.
Marriage is being misunderstood, feeling misunderstood and misunderstanding.
Marriage is watching the rug get ripped out from underneath your spouse - and being there to sometimes just say nothing.
Marriage is sometimes being P.O.ed at someone, just because your spouse is.
Marriage is saying hard things - and hearing hard things.
Marriage is encouraging forgiveness, even when it's tough - and then waiting patiently.
Marriage is encouraging your spouse to exceed their goals - and being proud of them no matter the outcome.
Marriage is calling "not-it!" at the dinner table when your toddler screams from the bathroom "Can somebody wipe me!?" and then arguing for 5 minutes about who said it first while the begging continues.
Marriage is sometimes holding hair and rubbing backs when sickness strikes, and sometimes marriage is tossing a Gatorade and saltines in the general direction and running away with your nose plugged.
Marriage is bold-face lying to your wife when you come home from work to her in sweats and say "you look so beautiful" - because to you it is true.
Marriage is getting out of bed for the 5th time to check the back door lock.
Marriage is re-routing when the plan turns out a little differently.
Marriage is being there for each other - when you feel like you are each going to break.
Marriage is saying "I appreciate you trying to help" when your wife calls you from work wondering why the lawnmower won't work after using the small gas can (oil) and not the large gas can.
Marriage is recognizing the look of "I'm losing my mind" in your spouse's eyes and taking over the kids.
Marriage is learning to say (and teaching the kids to say) "It's just not my favorite" when a new recipe is tried.
Marriage is tag-teaming the night shift.
Marriage is a pool noodle taped to the pole in the garage.
Marriage is high-fiving when you get a family picture and no one looks totally terrible.
Marriage is making hard decisions together - and committing to sacrifice whatever it takes to make it work.
Marriage is not saying "I told you so" even when it requires chewing holes in your cheeks to keep your mouth shut.
Marriage is rejoicing together.
Marriage is realizing that "heck no, you're out of your mind" sometimes just means "ask me after you do the dishes."
Marriage is sometimes saying "You were right." And meaning it.
Marriage is figuring it out together and never having it all figured out.
Marriage is encouraging each other when you feel called, but not equipped.
Marriage is asking for grace, and giving grace - even when its undeserved on either end.
Marriage is the hardest work - but marriage is fun.
Marriage is choosing to do the hard work together, because the hard work can lead to the sweetest of rewards.
Marriage is an adventure.
Marriage is you and me, Nate. And, Boy, do I love you so.