Five Years of Marriage


Happy Valentines Day Y'all! 

If you know me, you know I love to celebrate. A holiday, a birthday, heck! even just that you got a new job...lets c e l e b r a t e!! Not to mention, my mom is a crazy awesome event planner so it must be in my genes. Anyway... I thought I'd re-share a post i wrote last year for my five-year anniversary with Ty.   

I met Tyler seven years ago. I had just gotten off my first international flight. I was sleep- deprived for sure and had just told God on the plane that the next months were for him, not a romantic relationship.

The country I had just landed in was Iceland. My new home would be a Salvation Army hostel (affectionally called the “SalVal”) in the heart of downtown Reykjavik. Everything you've heard about Iceland -- the natural beauty, the colors that the sky produces, the kindness of people -- it's all true. My first day there was a dream and ended sitting on the roof of the hostel trying my hardest to fight sleep to just soak up this city for one more moment.

We were both there for a missions school, he was on staff and I was a student. Had our relationship started with a blatant mutual romantic interest, it probably would not have ended in marriage. I was still wrestling with some of the heart wounds from my childhood and inappropriate relationships that followed. Insecurity and a general mistrust towards men made me kind of awkward around the opposite sex. Also, I kind of believed, albeit very misguidedly, that god had told me who my husband would be and he wasn't in Iceland. (I cringe whenever I remember how sure of this I was.) Not to mention, dating technically wasn’t allowed for the duration of the school. Instead, a slow and steady friendship built.

After a month or so into the school I started feeling something unfamiliar, I began to feel a safe around Ty. I began to feel secure. I'm not sure how to correctly articulate it, but even though we were "just friends" my heart felt safe. I also started really noticing the things like his blonde curly hair, and his chiseled jaw. *blush* Then one night we were out with some friends to see a local artist play, my spinning thoughts being soundtracked as my eyes were opened to the chemistry and attraction that had been there all along.

"'Cause you're my king and I'm your lionheart."

It was official, I had a big fat crush. Neither one of us said a word until we were in Kenya for our practical part of the school.

Our first week there we stayed an hour outside of Nairobi at a compound out in the bush (basically "out in the country" if your from the south & "out in the county" if your from Bellingham). We were lying in the grass, under the stars with the rest of our team. He smoothly slipped his hand in mine without anyone noticing. From then on we both knew how we felt but tried our best to put off our feelings for the duration of our time in Kenya. Here we were in another world, experiencing what it's like to live without running water or dependable electricity. While also experiencing the joy and generosity of Kenyan people. We were being exposed to absolute poverty in the slums in Nairobi and so much more I couldn't even begin to list... together. The richness of life experience deepening our relationship.

Gorgeous bougainvilleas grew everywhere we went in Kenya, especially in Nairobi and he'd pick a colorful leaf and give it to me every time we passed one. Seriously, every time. Almost as to say "I'm still here."

Our trip ended in Mombasa. The Indian Ocean was breathtaking and our love for one another was more than ready to grow. We stopped trying to hide it and on the 9-hour flight back to Iceland we rested our heads on each other's shoulder.

When we got back to Iceland Tyler made that sometimes awkward unbroken eye contact he still does, and asked if he could "pursue my heart with integrity and honor". I had never experienced such intentionality nor felt such certainty within. I managed to mumble some version of yes. We shared our first kiss down by the Reykjavik harbor and I flew home to Tennessee just a few days later. He bought a one-way ticket to Nashville a month after I left.

If our story was a hollywood film, the credits would roll after the scene on the bench. And if our story was a indie film it'd probably end just after our first marital argument that sent one of us to the couch feeling like we were at an impass.

I've spent the last days thinking about how we met and the past five years of marriage, I've wanted to write some sort of Ode to our marriage. I'm not sure how to describe this life we've built. Our story of falling in love is like a storybook and the time spent past that, dating, engagement, marriage has had it's dreamy romantic moments and plenty of joy. I'm happy to say I often laugh so hard at his stupid dad jokes my face hurts. Often there are also moments when we miss each other, when we spew fireballs of words, when we forget to see each other's needs.

Some days the movie about us would be soundtracked by these words...

In spite of ourselves
We’ll end up a sittin’ on a rainbow Against all odds
Honey, we’re the big door prize
...There won’t be nothin’ but
Big ole hearts
Dancin’ in our eyes
— John Prine, In Spite Of Ourselves

and on other days these...

You throw a stone I pull a knife
And we both play the joker
Caught up in this friendly fire Wounded by what we admire
What drives us crazy draws us closer
— Johnnyswim, Villans
Garissa, Kenya

Garissa, Kenya

I guess what I'm trying to say is from this view, after five brutiful years of marriage, it's easy to see a breathtaking landscape and forget the diverse climb we thought we couldn't make at times. (And we're still climbing.) That's the beauty of this promise, to continue trusting, choosing, and forgiving each other. 

*originally published March 24, 2015

BONUS: I found our wedding video floating around Vimeo. Mostly filmed by a dear friend who passed away two years ago, Kappel Cloninger