A Letter to My Husband | 8 Years of Marriage | 'To Have and To Hold' Series

Cal,

When I married you eight years ago, I could not fathom the journey we would take together. I married you when I was 25. I knew nothing about the world. I knew nothing about love or marriage or lifetime commitment. In the past 2,922 days, I have learned about all of those things and more. Most importantly, I have learned about forgiveness. How to ask for it. How to receive it. I do not ever thank you enough for all that you do. So, here are a few.

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Thank you for loving me more today than you did eight years ago.

Thank you for allowing yourself to learn how to love me better.

Thank you for your work ethic. So many in our society are plagued with a lifestyle of laziness. You are the antithesis of that.

Thank you for making me see that we don't have to have it all to have a lot.

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Thank you for holding my hand and my heart when our world was crashing in around us.

Thank you for being June's biggest advocate. Without you, we would know very little about her and who she can become.

Thank you for teaching me about the Bible. My relationship with God is stronger because of you.

Thank you for the foot rubs, especially when I was pregnant.

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Thank you for honoring me in your relationship with others. You have never given me reason to question your intentions or actions.

Lastly, thank you for loving me unconditionally. You told me a long time ago that unconditional love between humans wasn't something you really believed in. You may still maintain that sentiment, but I have seen you love me on my ugliest days. I think you changed your mind, cause you are still here beside me. Here's to so many more wonderful years together!

Love,
Sterling

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My Biggest Regret in My Marriage | 'To Have and To Hold' Series

There are many moments of our marriage that I look back on with regret. Things I said. Things I did, or didn't, do. Actions that hurt Cal. Emotional temper tantrums. The list goes on, but we all have those things. I thought long and hard about my biggest regret in our nearly eight years of marriage. It was difficult isolating one as the "biggest"...until I actually realized what it was. 

My biggest regret is that we didn't take on life as a team for so long. I'm having a hard time expressing in words what I mean, so bear with me for a minute. When we found our there were problems with our pregnancy, something changed with us. We became partners. We started to face the world together, as one unit. Sure, I've always felt like we were on the same side, but not like this. We went to battle together. We felt sorrow together. We planned our next steps together. We truly became one in our hardship. 

Bad things happen to everyone. A failed pregnancy. A family member dies. When one of you loses a job. Your house forecloses. You go through a major surgery. Financial loss. When you receive more bad new than you know what to do with. Those things show you just how much you need one another. Our particular circumstances made me understand the words, "For better or worse." 

 So, my regret is that it took me a ridiculously difficult time to take my husband's hand and say, "Whatever you got, world, we can take it." Don't wait until the hard part comes to start living and acting like your backs are against the wall and the only way you can do it is together. 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Have the Perfect Wife | 'To Have and To Hold' Series

So you have the perfect wife? I asked my husband, Cal, to take the lead on this one. I mean, it would be arrogant of me to write an entire post on my perfect qualities, right? ;)

Standards can be a funny thing.  In order to get good things, one has to have standards.  But, we often times fail our own standards.  This seems to be a paradox.  Marriage, it seems to me, is this sort of conundrum.  Some of us may say we have the perfect wife.  This is especially common among those soon to be married and newlyweds.  Before I was married and during our newlywed period, I thought that I had a perfect wife.  Notice I say a perfect wife, not the perfect wife.  It wasn't like I thought my wife was perfect and above all others, or attaining a sort of objective standard of perfection.  What I thought I had was a perfect wife, a woman who met my notions of perfection.  This worked great for a while, as long as things were the way I thought they should be.  

Eventually, I began to see that I did not have a perfect wife.  Some of you may be thinking, "Duh, how could this even be something that you needed time to realize."  Whether I am thick or not may require a different blog post.  My realization was in actuality not a good thing.  After a few months, I came to see that my wife was not up to my standards and therefore not a perfect wife.  For the next FEW years of my marriage, I harbored feelings of resentment towards my wife.  Sometimes this would come out in harsh words, cutting criticisms, and giving her the silent treatment.  All of my antics assumed the premise that my criteria for what a perfect wife should be resided in my subjective set of standards.  My frustration with my wife was grounded in selfishness.  My marriage wasn't about us, it was about her attaining my standards.  Never did I consider that my thought processes and standards caused me to be an imperfect husband.  I spent more time attempting to rehabilitate my wife to standards, and virtually no time on self improvement.  The truth is that my wife's burdens and struggles are mine.  This took me a few years to recognize and fight back against.  

I still have to fight these feelings in my marriage.  Many would say that if your spouse doesn't meet your standards, then it's just time to find someone else.  If that's what marriage is, then you don't have a marriage but a legal contract.  Party A has to do the following, and Party B must hold up their end of the bargain.  If this is your view of marriage, you will at the very least fight, harbor resentment, and brood.  In the worst cases you will steer the marriage straight to separation and divorce.  

I certainly can't be a perfect husband, and my wife can't be a perfect wife.  If marriage is about having your spouse satisfy your subjective standards, it's not really a marriage.  A real marriage has some elements of a contract to it, but it is so much more.  Jesus tells us that the marriage union is a profound mystery, and that a man and a woman come together to form one flesh and that to do this a man and woman both leave their prior family relationship to start a new unit.  There cannot be a perfect wife because perfection is not something that a spouse can achieve, but a standard by which a marriages can be measured.  I cannot look to my wife to be perfect without also demanding perfection of myself.  I need not focus on the actions of my spouse, but on the cultivation and growth of the marriage.  I know this is abstract, but I will have some practical application of these ideas in coming posts in the "To Have and To Hold" series.

-Cal

Photo: Kate Coogan

Introducing: 'To Have and To Hold' Marriage Series

"I take you for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part."

Every wedding ceremony includes vows, and whether traditional or completely original, they basically say the same things. One of my goals for my business is to encourage my couples to focus more on their marriage than their wedding day. That may sound funny from the person who relies heavily on the existence of wedding days to sustain a business, but I mean it. I would rather you go off and elope at the courthouse and stay married for 100 years than spend thousands at the best and biggest venue, only to part ways 4 or 5 years later. 

With that passion, this series was born. With the help of my husband, Cal, we will be bringing to light actual topics and struggles that real couples will face throughout their marriage. Our writings will be heavily influenced by our faith, but I believe anyone will benefit from them. We may even throw in some of our life stories as well.

Vows mean something, they aren't just words. They are actions husbands and wives will take when things get real. 

Topics we will cover:
-Starting a family
-Dealing with the in laws
-Facing holidays as a new family
-Finances
-Planning for the future
-How to interact with the opposite sex
-Fighting
-Making up
-And so much more! Trust me, we have a list!

Look for our posts twice each month!

Photo: We Are The Mitchells