We've been married almost 20 years, and since I was married just after turning 20 we are quickly approaching my "I've been married half my life" anniversary.
During these past 20 years we've endured extensive health trials, the tragic injury of a child, financial hardship, marriage and personal counseling, we've moved to a new state 6 times, we've earned numerous degrees and been poor students, we've managed frequent travel for work, and I spent most of the past 20 years pregnant or nursing our eight children.
My marriage today is better than I could have ever imagined it to be and I know this is partly because I chose a good egg, but also because we both really work on keeping our marriage.
Oh friends, choose your spouse wisely! Do not marry someone you love (it's so easy to love people). Marry someone you respect and admire. Marry someone who loves you so much that he will spend his whole life learning to love you better. Marry someone who will pull you up and inspire you with his conversation and work ethic. Marry someone who treats his mother well and who treats strangers well.
Then, after you have chosen, LOVE HIM! Stop wondering IF you chose right and focus all of your efforts on helping this young man become the best that he can be by LOVING the best inside him. A good woman knows that she is not just a partner, she is a gardener.
It's hard to love if you are insecure. Do you know what is so attractive to a man, to everyone really? A woman who is comfortable in her own skin. I'm not sure when I reached the age that I accepted myself and gave myself fully to my husband and my God.
Obviously, I am always trying to improve. I want to lose weight and be better at so many things. But, I often tell myself-- this is the body I have. I will love Todd with this body and let him love me. These are the gifts and talents that I have. I will serve others with what I have. There is peace that comes from humility. As I humbly accept I am just a normal (not the hottest, not the nicest, not the most organized, not the most talented) wife and mother, I feel peace in my skin.
Letting go of my pride allows me to genuinely love the gifts of others without defensiveness.
I also think it's SO important to date your husband. In my opinion, double dates are the best. It's easier to be your fun-loving self when you are with another couple. I don't think dates are a good time to talk extensively about your children or your problems. You need time away from the rigors of life to just flirt and laugh and be two adults who love each other.
I love that even at the beginning of my religion, Mormons sang and danced together. Wholesome recreational activities are healing and rejuvenating. TV or movie watching dates are my least favorite dates. If you do end up watching a play or movie together, be sure you go out to eat and drive with another fun couple so you have time to talk and laugh. Laughing is so good for relationships!
Honestly, I NEVER feel like going on a date. It's tough to arrange things at home. I worry about my kids' bedtime routine. It takes time and effort to look a little nicer and change out of my comfy yoga pants. If I think about the money we spend on nice dinners I could probably think of ten ways I'd rather spend my money. BUT, like everything good in life, dating is worth the effort.
We went out last night, driving in our huge 15 passenger van (because Todd's little car has no air conditioning). Our kids called us 15 times. Lily had a tooth hanging on by a string. We convinced her to let Jakob pull it. We got 3 scared calls and one call of jubilant victory, followed by three calls of concern that the tooth fairy won't come because she ALWAYS forgets. One call to insure the promise that if the tooth fairy did forget (again) that we would give her money in the morning. And, two calls from sisters asking us not to forget to give them a hug and kiss when we got home.
We stopped at Target and Walmart to return things and buy things. The woman at Walmart customer service said she wasn't used to being treated with kindness and thanked us for our patience. I just held on to Todd's arm, grateful again for the nice man that I'm married to.
We hold hands as we walk and drive. I noticed how, even after 20 years, I still feel tingles when he brushes the top of my hand with his thumb.
I laughed when I noticed his painted pinky nail. He took all 5 girls on a father-daughter Campout last night and they begged him to let them paint his nails. He relented to one nail for one day. He's a good dad.
You know that I'm a natural optimist. And, obviously Todd and I don't have a perfect marriage. We have a regular marriage. We struggle daily with our own special blend of frustrations, trials, weaknesses, even sins that we try hard to let go of. I'm good but very real and so is Todd. He's a jerk sometimes (and I'm sassy).
But, I never could have imagined, as I was preparing to marry this kid, that after 20 years together I could be so much more in love with this man than ever before. EVERY aspect of our life is better today than it was twenty years ago. I would never want to re-live twenty because almost forty is better.
If I could give every one of you a gift, I would give you a man that loves you like Todd loves me. But, like the oil in the lamp of the ten virgins, love cannot be transferred. What I can tell you with my whole soul, is that if you have this kind of love, you are SO rich. And, if you don't have it yet, never ever forget that it IS possible!
Practice loving every day.
Love is how you serve others, love is how you talk about others, love is how you see yourself with grace and extend that grace to others. Love is physical touch. Love is seeing the best. Love is spending time and money. Love takes effort. Love is not merely a flutter in your stomach the first time your eyes meet. Love is really seeing a naked, imperfect man and letting your heart flutter at the best that is in him. Love more!
I wish someone could have told me twenty years ago that it IS possible to be happy in marriage. And so, that is my shout to you this morning.
My name is Jenifer Moss.
I have been married 20 years and I am still absolutely in love with my husband.
Two very normal and imperfect people CAN live happily ever after even without balls and fairy godmothers.
I know it.