Sometimes it seems the best stories are the ones that involve the most hardship. As a writer and bit of a romantic, I always hoped my love story would be a good one. However, I did not realize until after I was married that the many difficulties my husband and I faced while dating were the very things that would make our story exactly what I hoped for, one worthy of retelling.
This theme has continued into our marriage, and I have come to realize that our struggles are cornerstones, forming a strong foundation for the life we are building together; one that will hopefully last many decades and weather even the worst storms.
My husband and I were very fortunate, because we were each other’s firsts. We shared and experienced those magical little romantic things together: the specialness of the first date, the thrill of holding hands for the first time, the shyness of the first kisses lightly placed on cheeks. We made the most of our tiny college town, slowly filling every corner of it with memories that would never be forgotten.
But we also had to learn love’s hard lessons through each other.
I slowly came to the realization that this other person did not always see things the way I did, and I had to accept that his fears and opinions were different than mine, yet still deserving of respect.
We experienced the difficulty of growing up and changing while spending late nights and stressful study sessions trying to understand who we were after all of this.
During those formative years, it was all too easy to blame our own individual problems on each other. After too many cycles of forgiving, forgetting, then falling into the same harmful patterns, it seemed like we were doomed to keep hurting each other, and we parted for what I believed to be the last time. He transferred schools and went back home while I returned to a very lonely campus to finish the second half of my junior year.
We were young, gullible, and at times, very dramatic. But we loved each other, and in the end, after some space and time, desperate prayers and tireless persistence on the part of my dear husband, we called our friends to tell them that we were not only back together, but also engaged and getting married in a few months.
Even though we were long distance, both of us living and working from home at this point, being engaged was truly incredible. It felt like the world was sparkling and everything we planned, whether it was the flowers for the church or the layout for our new apartment, promised to be perfect. We were married on a beautiful, warm day in February, and the wedding was even more than we hoped. It was intimate, elegant, and full of visible love.
But as our married life began, a distance fell between us we had never experienced before, and it seemed to grow and warp as the first week of marriage stretched into the first six months.
There was so much we didn’t understand, so many ways we were unprepared for what was coming. New responsibilities caught us by surprise and normal mood swings were interpreted as personal attacks. We felt like we came from different planets, and the peace we had reached together only months before seemed to crumble in our hands.
In our first year of marriage, we moved twice, changed jobs, lived long-distance for over a month, confronted broken promises, and fell under the curse of chronic illness. Money was tight, tensions were high, and hurts ran deep. And so we prayed. We prayed harder than we ever had before, reached out for help, and remembered our vows. We had committed to each other, and we were not going to give up now. Scott Hahn once said,
We called upon that grace to save us. In response, God healed us and gave us the eyes to see the reasons for our hardship. We were able to recognize him guiding us as we renewed our promises.
When we stood before our family and friends on our wedding day and vowed to forsake all others for each other, we had no idea those vows would be tested so quickly. I always assumed the “for better” part came first, and the “for worse” part came later, and learned that is not always the case. Yet through our Lord’s grace we stayed. Our love became like a broken bone, stronger once healed than it ever was. As we live through our second year of marriage and continue to face new hardships, we have been able to lean on each other.
When we wake up side by side and look into the eyes we fell in love with, we both feel so grateful God gave us to each other. We both are brought to tears when we think of everything we would have lost, had we given up during the hard times. And now, as we both wonder at the movement of our little baby still growing inside me, we cannot wait to watch our life continue to grow through the hands of the Lord into so much more than it ever could have alone.
In the song “Enough to Let Me Go,” the band Switchfoot writes,
“If it doesn’t break your heart, it isn’t love.”
Even though I liked the song, I never understood that verse. This love story of mine has changed that. Marriage can be truly heartbreaking, but not always in bad way. Sometimes it breaks my heart because it is just so incredibly good. My poor, feeble brain cannot comprehend or process the outpouring of love, delight, and gratitude that surges through me when he wakes up and smiles at me or takes my hand in the grocery store while we talk about ridiculous things.
Our love story is only beginning. Though I may be biased, I can say I’m thoroughly hooked and cannot wait to see what the next chapter holds, even if it’s a difficult one.
After all, God is the original author, and he knows how to write a good ending for every type of story. Especially a love story.
About the Author: Abigail Gripshover is a part-time editor/social media manager and full-time housewife. When not working, you can find her catching up on book club readings, rearranging furniture, or organizing her planner while listening to music. She lives at the beach with her wonderful husband, and they are expecting their first baby.