At age nineteen I was a gullible girl heading into my fairy tale dream…or so I thought. The day of our wedding, June 25, 1988, will be the day my life was tossed into a washing machine and left on the spin cycle. But I want to share with you the wonderful things in thirty years of marriage I have learned.
Sounds like a commercial doesn’t it? Well, our story could make a blockbuster movie look tame…
Vance was the cool, athletic, tall-dark-and-handsome hunk I could only dream of marrying. I had considered myself the small town girl who kind of blended in. When my best friend Kyna, who was also Vance’s cousin, told me he liked me, I didn’t believe her.
Neither did the rest of our town.
*Kyna sent me this quote yesterday on my anniversary
But God had a plan, he decided to coordinate two stubborn, strong-willed idiots to marry each other. Then, if that wasn’t enough, throw in a baby with autism. (Read about our autism journey here: My Brother’s Keeper) We had four more adorable children in the next seven years. Vance worked out of town five days a week. While we are at it, doesn’t homeschooling sounded like a great idea too?
The perfect recipe to cause a husband and wife to have a marriage breakdown! (The five kids are not part of the recipe)
I am convinced this is precisely what both Vance and I needed to transform us from spouses who fought ALL THE TIME: to a loving couple who fought from time to time (I only fight when provoked, of course.)
Before we married each other, I cannot tell you how many people had their doubts we would make it to the five-year mark, let alone thirty. They were right, we wouldn’t have made it!
At the five year mark, I was ready for a divorce, or a jail sentence, whatever came first was fine with me
I was tired of being married to a selfish man, who never served his family and only worked if money was rewarded. I would have gladly switched roles and gone to work twelve hours a day, come home and put my feet up, grab the remote, sleep all night while my spouse got up ten times with our son with autism, and have a paycheck slapped in my hand every two weeks. Especially if home-cooked meals would also appear on the table and laundry in my dresser drawer.
Instead, I felt like someone’s unappreciated slave.
At the time Vance knew he should be helping more, but he tucked away that little voice that told him so. We kept fighting and duelling it out verbally every weekend he was home.
Then I’d have screaming matches with God, “I hate you, why did you give me this horrible man!!!”
Well, God got tired of me complaining and one day had a board meeting with the angels and decided it was time to change the lives of the Henson’s or put a whole roll of duct tape around my sassy mouth(this would have been an answer to Vance’s prayers.)
God poured his love into my husband in the most powerful way, and Vance had a spiritual makeover. I literally had a brand new man…overnight.
Over the years Vance continued the change, and he became the most incredible father and husband – the one I dreamed about the day I married him. Now, I joke about him being the better spouse of the two of us (he really is!)
I now believe the real heart of a husband and father is revealed by what he does or doesn’t do, “without reward” for his wife and kids… especially when no one is watching.
This is what Vance did for me, and it changed my heart drastically. My anger towards God also dissipated through many years of Vance’s patience and unconditionally love towards his grumbling, complaining, sarcastic wife.
I also had to do my part, I lacked respect for Vance in almost every way. My mouth could utter things that make me shudder today. I could have driven him to insanity. When we browbeat our husbands and tear them down with verbal putdowns, we push them to the edge. I was guilty.
When Vance began to truly love me and put me ahead of himself, I began to respect him. I wish I could tell you it was the other way around and I had admired him from day one, regardless of his actions. But I was too selfish to have it in reverse.
What have I learned after thirty years of marriage?
Whether you believe in God or not, love comes from him. The word LOVE means God. Without him, there is no such thing.
God is love – true LOVE.
He is still working on us. Marriage is ” a work in progress.” You never arrive. You just keep burning the bacon, askin’ forgiveness and making room for mistakes, I’m sorry’s, and I love you’s.
Marriage never comes with easy-to-read manuals, it’s hard work!
You will have days you want to kill each other and days you tolerate one another, but hopefully the days you love each other will outnumber the former two.
Forgiving your spouse over and over again is one of the greatest gifts you can give in your marriage. Stick it out when it’s hard, pray fervently, serve sacrificially and love unconditionally.
Love + Respect+ Work + Sacrifice = A Healthy Marriage
Vance and I started the journey of a lifetime together, 30 years ago. I am more in love with this man today than I was in the beginning. How that is possible, is only through the grace of God and lots of eye rolling!
Happy 30th Anniversary Vance, thanks for loving me even on the days I was out of control. I hope we have thirty more💗
P.S. Sorry for burning breakfast on our anniversary XO.
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