Forever Vow

529724_10151327123406840_1398455785_nTen years ago today, Jeni and I said, “I do.” Next, we declared out vows – promises to stay together regardless of the trials we might face. As I prepared a compilation CD of songs that tell our story, I was taken aback by the mountains we’ve had to climb. We’ve lost many of the friends and family who shared our wedding day with us. We’ve moved across the country twice, and around the southeast twice as well. We’ve lived in at least seven different houses, welcomed four children into the world, been witness to churches crumbling, walked with friends as they fought for their marriages, wept with friends as they lost a child, wrestled with our oldest son having a severe brain injury, suffered heartbreak from friends, been let down by our sources of support, lived in my in-laws living room, faced unemployment, hurt with my sister when she broke her back, and more moments that found us digging for silver linings.

Our first year might have been the toughest. Jeni and I moved from Florida to Minnesota, built and remodeled a house, and faced unexpected job difficulties. These factors, combined with our immaturity, led to hours with a marriage counselor and many tear-soaked pillows. We learned quickly, marriage isn’t easy.

Year two brought the excitement of our first son, Caedmon, and the numbing fear of potentially losing him. Normal parenting for us has always included developmental specialists, physical therapy appointments, medical research, and wheelchairs. Many know our experience, others often say, “I don’t know how you do it.” (A big part of the answer is Jeni’s a Supermom.)

Here’s all I want to say; when Jeni and I said we would be married “till death do us part,” we meant it. No exceptions. What I learned, going back over all the hills we’ve climbed, is that we could have quit many, many times. Most people wouldn’t have thought any less of us if we broke under the pressure and went our separate ways. But it was never an option. Jeni mentioned how strong and significant our love is today, different and deeper than ever before. She’s so right. We had no idea what love was ten years ago, and that’s what the vows were for.

Our mutual promise carried us through the hardships so we could reach this plateau, and enjoy the view. I have no idea what the next ten years will bring, but I know whose hand I’ll be holding. I made a Forever Vow to Jeni, and only death will break it.

I know there are many who are struggling for their marital lives out there. Some are feeling the pain of infidelity, some are feeling the pinch of financial instability, some are wrestling with fears that their spouse isn’t the person they thought they were. I know it’s hard, but remember your vow. There are times it can feel like a burden, and that’s okay. I often get annoyed putting on a life vest, but when trouble comes, I’m sure glad it’s there.

Jimmy Valvano said, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” He was speaking to those fighting cancer. Can I say those words to you? No matter what you’re facing, you promised, just like I did, to stay together till death parted you. Trust the promise. One day you’ll reach the top, and the view will take your breath away.

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7 comments

  1. First, happy anniversary to you and Jeni.
    Second, I like the “forever vow” concept and wish more couples would understand and embrace it. Marriage isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.

  2. Happy Anniversary! I can totally understand as Matt and I celebrate our 14th this year there are those seasons of fresh air and those of digging in the trenches and the thing that keeps us pushes is our covenant with God, but there is no one I would rather do it with than my friend and hubby.

  3. The marriage “out clause” these days is the omission of, “until death do us part”. Life together begins with one foot out the door!

    I wonder if what is said differs from what is heard. What appears is heard by some, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for richer, in health, to love and to cherish, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth as long I’m having fun.” Pass the chips.

    1. For so many people what you wrote is true. I know some couples who’ve been through as close to a literal Hell as possible in their marriages, and the choice to divorce was a wrenching one. I don’t think their decision was the right, or best, one, but I also know it wasn’t casual.

      That being said, it’s like the abortion debate; people yell and scream about rape or incest, but those make up a tiny percentage of abortions. The gross majority are murders of convenience. The same is true of the “exception clause” and divorce. Very few fall under the theoretical exception, MOST are divorces of convenience – “Make me happy, or I’ll find someone else who might!”

  4. Happy Anniversary to you and Jeni!

    I shared our marriage testimony with Ryan recently and with Jeni in the past via a loop we are on. I’m sharing it here and hope it encourages those of you reading it.

    Blessings,
    Tricia

    Carlos’ Marriage Testimony

    On April 6,1991 Tricia and I married in Orlando, FL. for the first time. It was beautiful, but since we were not living to glorify Jesus our marriage crumbled and we divorced November 30,1993. In 1994 I moved to Tallahassee, FL. where she had moved to with the idea that we would get along and not have any problems, but that was not the case. By July of that year I was living by myself and working two jobs. I moved back to Puerto Rico where I was born and raised in November of 1994 and soon went back to just a lot of drinking and some womanizing. I was repeating my dad’s history but Jesus had a plan. He got Tricia’s attention in 1995 who in turn started to share with me in 1996 about her new life in Christ Jesus. She also wanted me to realize how much I needed Him in my life.
    She continued to share and I continued to lie to her. For I kept living life in a sinful way. But I did not have peace, joy or freedom. I was always anxious, biting the insides of my mouth, until July of 1997 when I gave up trying to do it on my own. I repented of my sins, I believed and confessed JESUS to be the Son of God who died on a cross and who resurrected from the dead on the third day and is now sitting at the right hand of the Father.

    Tricia and I remarried on January 31, 1998.

    Tricia’s Marriage Testimony

    Carlos and I were married the first time in 1991 and divorced (sad to say) in 1993.After the divorce we tried to work things out but since we were not looking to the Lord it went no where. We divorced because I was a pain and he was a pain and thought that this was the easy thing to do. It wasn’t, it was very painful.

    In 1995 I wanted to start going back to church. I believe we were saved when we were married the first time. We both had gone to Christian schools when we were in 1st -6th grade. I know this fact doesn’t save a person. My uncle married us the first time and we wanted him to share the gospel at our wedding and he did. I share all this because for sure in 1995 the Lord opened my eyes and I saw how I was not living for Him. I’m not sure how long after surrendering to the Lord I read a verse that said I would be an adultress if I married again. I’m not sure if it was the following verses in Romans 7:2-3 that state:

    2) For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3) So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.

    There are other verses that also address the above. Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:32 and maybe others so I may have read one of those instead.

    The Lord spoke to me in these verses and by reading them I know He told me that I should never marry again and if I do it should be back to Carlos. He had moved back to Puerto Rico where he was born and raised so I wrote a letter to him thinking he was probably still living at his mom’s house. I shared what the Lord was doing in my life and told Carlos what I felt the Lord had said to me about remarrying him. Carlos was down a different path then I was. I continued to communicate with him by writing at first and eventually by telephone. In the summer of 1997 I went to Puerto Rico to visit him. In July of 1997 Carlos surrendered his life to the Lord. About 1 month later he moved back to Tallahassee and we had some counseling, but the associate pastor wanted us to go to the end of the session before he would marry us and we didn’t want to do that. We knew this time it would be till death do us part. We understood now that the vow we made the first time was a covenant between us and God and that covenants are not meant to be broken.

    This is an important part of my testimony that I left out in the original testimony above but I know that it needs to be shared.

    One evening when I was talking to Carlos over the phone I was reading something to him. If I remember correctly it was from one of Charles Stanley’s books and I was hoping that it would convict him to turn his life over to the Lord. Instead he confessed to me that
    he had had sexual relations with others during the time we were not married to each other. It was devastating to be told this but deep down the thought was there. I ended the conversation and soon after called my associate pastor and discussed this with him and he told me because of that I did not have to remarry him which I think was not encouraging council. I chose to forgive Carlos because we have no right to not forgive because Christ has forgiven us. I also knew that the Lord had told me in His Word that I should never marry again and if I do it should be back to Carlos and I truly believed that we would remarry. During a counseling session mentioned above with the associate pastor the sexual relations Carlos had had were brought up and I clearly heard the Lord tell me my grace is sufficient and had the Lords peace that passes understanding.

    On January 31,1998 we were married again by my uncle since the associate pastor would not marry us because we didn’t continue counseling. We had no problem with this because it was his conviction. I also see that if this had not happened my uncle would not have been the one to remarry us and I’m very glad he did.

    I’m thankful to be married again to my beloved and you know what?
    I’m still a pain and he…well, you know 🙂

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