{We’re babies!}

10 years ago today, I pulled into the Olive Garden parking lot and did a flurry of rearview mirror assessments: mascara—check, lip gloss—check, flyaway hairs—check…er…tamed.

Then I did the classic first date half walk/half trot (until you remember you’re not supposed to look too eager and you force yourself to walk again) up the sidewalk and pushed through the door, eyes darting around in anticipation. But my date was already seated because I was late. Like 15 minutes late.

I know. Shame on me.

Of course, if you’ve read our love story (you can catch up with parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, and 5) then you know that, compounding my tardiness was the fact that Shaun had lead me to this location with a riddle. A riddle that I had to unravel or risk showing up at the wrong place, or not at all.

It makes me smile to think that, these days, a simple text would have soothed his shredded is-she-or-isn’t-she-coming nerves. But this was before the days of casual texting, and I only used my dinosaur of a phone for emergencies.

Oh, for simpler times.

When I finally came into view, his face was incandescent. I can still remember the expression in his eyes when he smiled at me. It was one of those everything-else-just-goes-hazy kind of moments. Not that I could fully appreciate it since I was so busy apologizing for being late and the server was busy playfully chiding me for making this handsome young man wait.

And then I saw them. Two long-stemmed red roses crisscrossed over my plate.

I don’t know about y’all, but for me, there is just something ridiculously appealing about a guy who has the confidence to bring a girl he likes long-stemmed crimson roses on their first date. He wanted his intentions known. No confusion. No questions. We’re not here to be friends. We’re here to see just how far we can take this.

16 months before, I’d been engaged to marry a boy I had dated for almost 3 years. And I came out of that relationship a very confused woman/girl (I was only 19 when we broke off our engagement). I had constant questions about how-in-blue-blazes you were supposed to ever know—like know, all the way down to the bottoms of your sneakers—if someone was right for you. After all, the boy I had dated and I were compatible. We shared a ton in common and got along famously. But I knew in my heart (and my sneaker bottoms) that he wasn’t the one God had for me.

But when Shaun came along, I knew. Like knew.

And a huge part of that was that endearing confidence of his. He wasn’t pushy or demanding. He just knew what he wanted. And what he wanted was me. (Insert pulse flutter).

Yesterday, a reader sent me an email asking for advice about marriage, admitting that hers is struggling, and noting that I “oozed admiration and respect” for Shaun. At first, I didn’t know what to do with that word, “ooze.” I wondered if I were being too gooey about my husband here on the blog, but she made it very evident that she thought it was a good thing, so I stopped worrying about semantics and started thinking about the things that make that genuine admiration and respect for the man I’m married flow out of my heart.

And y’all. Let me tell you, the list was long. He’s kind, considerate, helpful, romantic, funny, godly, hardworking, smart, amazing with our kids…I could go on, but I don’t want you to drown in the gooiness.

But, of course, he’s also human. Me too. Which means that we’re both selfish and resentful and entitled and defensive and lazy sometimes.

And yet, I can truly say that the past 10 years are such a whirlwind of wonderful that the times when the ugliness has outweighed the goodness just fade away, and a decade and 5 babies later, I’m left with this deep and abiding thankfulness to my God that he saw fit to give me Shaun.

I asked him the other day if he thought marriage was hard. He did n’t even pause. He just said, “Nope.”

It’s not that it isn’t. It is. But it sure doesn’t feel that way most of the time when you get to do marriage with your favorite person in the whole wide world.

So, happy 10 years, baby. You are my absolute favorite. Really, really.

10 years later {More crow’s feet. But more love too.}

P.S. I know that not everyone has it as “easy” as we do. I always hesitate to write posts like this lest I compound the sadness or frustration that you might be going through in your own marriage. But, ultimately, I chose to write it anyway in hopes that it will be an encouragement that marriage, while hard, can be and is a very, very good thing.

I’m also very hesitant to write “how to do life” posts. I’ll show you how I made a wreath or my soup recipe in a heartbeat. But I usually feel like “who am I to give advice on raising kids or marriage or godliness?” After all, I’m so very flawed and riddled with failures and hang-ups on any given day. But then, I think that maybe my extreme humanness might be the very thing that could serve as an encouragement in an area where Jesus is helping me overcome. In other words, if I can do this even marginally well, I KNOW you can!

So my question for you is: is marriage—and specifically how Shaun and I keep our marriage more sweet than sour—something that you’d like to hear more about here?


  1. Saw the pic of your kids praising Jesus in the back seat and it brought tears to my eyes. And so I had to follow the link and stumbled on this post. I’m working to become the best woman that I can so that picture is my life one day. God is my center, on most days, when I really sit and be still. I think that the biggest misconception us Christians have is that we are the only ones who struggle. We hear all the stories of people overcoming but we don’t hear the struggles but what do we as people learn the most from? Our own struggles! So I for one would love to hear a bit about your struggles and how you overcome them. I learn and take wisdom from how Godly women make it through the every day so I can learn better ways of turning to God instead of myself at times. Thank you for the posts!

  2. A- you should definitely discuss this topic. I think are believers we need to discuss this more and to encourage others! Topics like how to encourage your hubbs, how to pray for— issues and how to focus on the good instead of the not so perfect aspects of your husband— etc etc. ooze and be real!

  3. I LOVED this post! My husband and I have been married for 13 years this summer. I also loved what Amy (a few posts above me) said. Speaking positively about your spouse is so important. My husband is not perfect, but I know I am not perfect either. We love each other in spite of our flaws. We chose to do that almost 13 years ago and it is a choice we continue to make each day, no matter what frustrations we each have. I love reading about others who love their husbands as much as I love mine!

  4. My husband and I are also working on year 10 and I feel exactly the same way about my hubby. This paragraph was my favorite.
    “And yet, I can truly say that the past 10 years are such a whirlwind of wonderful that the times when the ugliness has outweighed the goodness just fade away, and a decade and 5 babies later, I’m left with this deep and abiding thankfulness to my God that he saw fit to give me Shaun.”
    We are so, so blessed.
    Happy Anniversary!

  5. Congratulations on ten years! And even more than that, congratulations on a love that is still growing after ten years. Do you know how rare it is to see that? VERY, and your story breathes life and encouragement all around! No, not everyone’s story is the same, but to share the goodness of God, and his faithfulness in your lives? You never go wrong doing that! 🙂
    I just recently came across your blog and have so enjoyed reading!

  6. Toootally agree with this comment. And that I would have RAN if roses were on my plate! But love that it works you – it makes it genuine and special. It would be a boring world full of compatible people if the same deal worked for everyone. Our stories and relationships wouldn’t be our own. I feel like advice on another’s love story is a slippery slope when your not dealing with the same characters.

  7. I would love to hear more “how to” – that’s why we read your blog! Those who don’t want to read it can skip to the next post! I love new ideas… and we are all needing to improve, right?

  8. As someone else who finds their marriage “easy” it’s refreshing to read that someone else feels that way. It seems that everyone around me is always working through some “issue” in their marriage. I have never felt that my marriage was work and my husband feels the same way! We both always say that “we” are the easiest part of our day. I sometimes wonder if there was something that we should be working on if everyone else seems to be “working” on their marriage. Although he is not perfect (I’m not sure he even knows what the word romance is!) he is perfect for me and for that I am grateful.

    1. Joanna, I do want to be clear that at least when I say that I think marriage is ‘hard’ it doesn’t mean that my husband and I have any issues that we are working on nor are we unhappy in our marriage. Maybe it’s just that I see a good marriage as needing constant work and focus, and I think that’s hard to always make sure we do do. In 21 years, my husband and I have changed quite a bit, and I think it’s important to make sure that we are each right for the other in the place where we are right now. Maybe another way of saying it is that it is very easy to not do the things we should to always keep our marriage where it should be. However, if people around you are working on always working on ‘issues’, that’s a different thing than I at least meant by hard. I can’t imagine going through my life constantly having to work on ‘issues’. That would be awful.

  9. YES! I would love to read more about your marriage and how you guys make it so great! I’m a newlywed (today is 4 months actually) and I love reading about people who have been married as long as you have and still love it and love each other! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

    1. Erica, my husband and I just got married on September 28, 2013, too! Congratulations to you both! Isn’t it wonderful? 🙂

      Abbie, happy anniversary to you! I am constantly inspired by your love and dedication to your faith, family, and marriage. I love hearing people say “I love marriage!” and I don’t think it happens enough today. I’d love to hear how you’re keeping marriage fun and exciting and any inexpensive/free date ideas you’ve enjoyed in the past. Also, if you have any advice for us newlyweds out there, memories from your earliest days of marriage, etc. Thanks, Abbie!

  10. Happy Anniversary!!! And YES!!!! I think it is great to read!! My husband and I have been married 15 years! He is my best friend!!! I love all the ooze details!!!!!! 🙂

  11. Congratulations on your 10 year anniversary!! May our Lord keep blessing your marriage for many more years!
    And yes! I can really use some pointers on how to be a little more “sweet” than “sour.”

  12. Congratulations on 10 years 🙂 This was really sweetly written. I would definitely love to hear more on marriage from your perspective!

  13. Great post Abbie! I feel the same way about my husband, and I’ve come to realize that so much of marriage is about choosing to have the right attitude. I choose to focus on the things I love about my husband, and that makes both of us so much happier. PLEASE don’t stop writing about your marriage! I love that you are one of the only other voices out there I hear that is proclaiming the joys of marriage, and the happiness she has found with her husband. We could use more of that instead of all the sarcastic marriage/men bashing jokes we hear on a daily basis. Congratulations to you both. You have a beautiful love story.

  14. I think people compare so much that they think their lives should be the same as yours (or whoever they are reading). It’s funny, I actually think marriage is hard, but I also wouldn’t trade my relationship for yours, because my relationship is right for ME, in the same way that your relationship is right for YOU. Does that make sense? I guess I feel like some people are going to read your blog and be unhappy in their relationship because their husband didn’t bring roses on their first date, and that’s too bad, but on the other hand, does that mean you shouldn’t right about your relationship since it may help and encourage others? So I’m no help at all! 🙂 I”m happy to read it myself! I would have FREAKED out if my now-husband had brought roses on the first date (too much, too soon for me) and I don’t think he would have been my husband now if he had done that, but it’s so neat how you loved that, and I love it that it was so right for the two of you. The whole point is finding who and what is right for you and being secure in that and not worrying about what is right for someone else. In the end, I do love reading about edifying our marriages. Although the same things may not work for me, I am still encouraged to find what is right for me and my husband.

  15. I want to hear all the “ooze” details!!! As a woman who has been married almost three years I love to read other stories this helps me look at my own marriage through different eyes. And even though your advice may not fit into my marriage it may help me have a “light bulb” moment and still touch our love.

I love hearing from you guys!