This morning, Peter awoke me with a kiss and something possibly even better: a box of donuts.
For the four and a half years we've been together, I have communicated implicitly and explicitly how the presence of donuts in the morning is extremely meaningful to me. One of my favorite memories of growing up at home is when I'd zombie-walk out to the kitchen in the morning and my grogginess would instantly vanish as I spotted a dozen Krispy Kremes. And this morning, for the first time ever, my very own husband had the thoughtfulness to make this a reality again for me.
This is extremely significant not because I’m an excessively grateful person (though I’ve been told the degree to which I get excited about food can be quite disproportionate to the situation) but because it points to something much bigger: Peter is becoming a better husband as time progresses.
I don't think that usually happens.
Usually boyfriends do all the romantic stuff at the beginning, but once they know the girl's not going anywhere, there isn't as much need for trying to impress.
So I think it's wonderful that it took Peter four and half years to get me donuts (not to mention last month was the first time he has ever gotten me flowers) because it means his love is becoming new all the time. And, given the past year and a half of our marriage, this is mysterious and great.
Last May on our anniversary, I cried many sad tears because we were in a dark season of marriage, and I was very sad that our relationship felt so loveless after only three years. I remember sitting on the floor in a puddle of sadness, fighting hard to remember God's faithfulness in the past so I could trust Him for the present. That’s all that got me through that day...and through the next several months.
Peter's business became quite successful in 2014, and with prosperity comes a major temptation for self-sufficiency. Peter kind of started forgetting his need for God---or for me. And I---who have always idealized marriage and put Peter on a pedestal that was dangerously exalted---just lost it. Most days I fought to try to function despite a dark cloud of depression.
I realized that my love is weak and very conditional, because I was quickly giving up on working on our marriage too. We tried date nights but they weren't helping. There were some sweet moments but the flavor of our marriage was truly bitter. This January was our lowest point---I was crying myself to sleep more often than not---and eventually I had to reach out to one of our pastors and ask for help.
We started marriage counseling in February, and that has been unspeakably helpful, but most of all, God has been faithful to just turn our hearts toward Him in the past several months.
The unprecedented gifts of donuts this morning and flowers on our anniversary last month serve as evidence that repentance is happening again. Peter has been working on our marriage like never before, and emotional wounds that I thought couldn't be healed truly have been. I trust him with my heart. We persevered in love and we are now finally enjoying the fruit of that. We love each other more than we did when we "fell" in love. As I’ve said before and see to become only more true, it's not passion that sustains the promise; it's the promise that sustains the passion. I have confidence in the goodness of the God-created covenant of marriage.
Of course we still have spats and bad days, and I’m aware that someday we might go through something like this again, and maybe the roles will be reversed. I really hope we don't because it was so terrible. But we might. And that would be okay, because I know that through over a year of a very disappointing marriage, God held us. And I've seen God hold a loved one through thirty years of very hard marriage (and I still have hope that He can heal them, too.)
Of course I'm not in a position of authority on marriage (or anything) as I've only been married four years, I'm only 23, and our marriage just started getting better a few months ago. But I still have much reason to be encouraged by the direction of our marriage and our lives in general. My husband belongs to Jesus, the best Man ever. Peter's heart is being changed to be more like Christ every day. So the longer I get to be with him, the more I get to see him change into something beautiful...growth as a romantic, included.
The Christian has hope like no other. Without Jesus, this recent difficult season would’ve left me with the choice of either walking out on the relationship (literally or emotionally) or “learning to cope” until something changes. But we’ve both learned to love and learned to hope. We hope in the Resurrection, when one day there will be no more tears and relationships will no longer be marred by sin. But we also get to hope in God’s resurrecting power working now, every day, as He changes us into something very, very good.
I'm thinking there will be many more donuts in my future.
photo from Jennuine Captures Photography on Flickr
Other reflections I've written on marriage:
Why Marriage is Good, Even When It's Rough
When You've Married the Wrong Person
My Sin is Larger than My Husband
Who Am I Actually Fighting?
5 Ways My Husband Shows Me Jesus
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
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Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today