Twenty eight years ago, my husband asked me to marry him. We’d known each other 3 mos, but there was no doubt in either of our minds that God wanted us to be together.
He told me he wanted 2…MAYBE 3 kids. I wanted 10, but thought it best not to divulge that information quite yet. I figured I knew he was the right guy for me and if God wanted us to have more than 3 kids, God would deal with him on that. He did. Now our story is that he wanted 3, I wanted 10, and we compromised at 8!
We’ve spent over 26 years raising and providing for them, all the while trying to make sure that we dated and did things together as a couple, so when the kids were grown we would hopefully still like each other. This was no easy task with 8 kids 12 1/2 years apart. But we persevered which really means sometimes our dates looked like gazing into each other’s eyes over a shared cup of coffee because we couldn’t afford a babysitter AND dinner out.
When our girls were finally old enough to babysit, we drove around the neighborhood with a cell phone in our laps so we could race home if there was an emergency. One time while we were gone, our youngest managed to put the car in gear and roll it backwards down our driveway. His sister was also in the car. She was vacuuming the back seat. He managed to turn the wheel the right direction and backed into a tree stump. The vacuum hose did not survive Thank goodness the children did.
We now have 5 kids grown and out of the house and 3 left at home. This seems to have happened at warp speed. For years, we felt like we would never be done parenting (which, by the way, you never really are), then all of a sudden three kids moved out in 3 mos.
We were cognizant that our life was changing and we were happening upon a new season, but we weren’t sure what that was supposed to look like, so we prayed…a lot. It seemed like we would get glimpses every now and then, but there were too many puzzle pieces floating out there that didn’t seem to fit together just yet.
One of the pieces was that my husband wanted to buy and run a bed and breakfast. My knee jerk response was, “I’ve been cooking and cleaning for over 2 decades and THAT’S what you want us to do for the duration of our days?” He reassured me that HE would be the one doing the bulk of it because, yes folks, he actually does enjoy that sort of thing. I had my doubts about the whole idea, but what threw me over the edge was that he wanted to do this in another country! WHAT??? I can tell you we had more than one heated discussion (argument) over this idea and finally he just quit talking about it, which was just fine by me.
I have to say, there was a twinge of guilt, enough to get me to listen to him a few more times, but something just wasn’t working for me. I brought this to the Lord many, many times and I hated that there was an area of our marriage that we didn’t see eye to eye on. That bugged me, but what could I do?
Life moved along. We had sold the house in the country that we built for our big family and moved into something smaller in town and it was good for that season. But there was a stirring. He felt it. I felt it. We talked about it many times, wondering what God was up to. I kept trying to settle down and envision our future here, but honestly I felt like a squatter. It wasn’t that I was discontent, I just could NOT shake the feeling that we were not staying.
The winter was snowy and cold and bore down hard. In January Darryl and I both decided we needed a trip somewhere. We chose North Carolina because that had become our favorite place to visit. In the weeks before our trip I felt God nudging me. He was telling me that although our marriage was good, there were some things that needed tending to. It wasn’t even clear what those things were, but it increased my awareness and desire to be watching and praying.
As Darryl and I were talking before we left, he mentioned the bed and breakfast idea again. This time he was thinking on domestic soil…thank the Lord!! Now I was all ears! He thought it might be a good idea to buy a small house as a bed and breakfast in a little town in North Carolina that we’d visited and had stolen our hearts. We would have someone else manage it most of the year and we would just visit in the winter. I thought that sounded fantastic! God had slightly different plans.
I prayed a lot before we left and I continued praying on that trip. As we drove around looking at houses and spending time together the Holy Spirit was SO present and speaking SO clearly. He told me to stop and really LISTEN to my husband and to his heart with fresh ears and fresh understanding. As I did that, I was reminded of how faithfully this man has walked alongside me for 28 years, raising kids, loving me and providing for a family of 10 on one income. I fell in love with my husband all over again. I realized how grateful and blessed I am to belong to him.
At one point along the way, we both looked at each other and said, “We don’t want someone else to manage this bed and breakfast, WE want to do it. We want to live here!” At that moment everything became crystal clear. I wanted and needed to come alongside my husband to partner with him in this vision and really enjoy the next season with him. Not only was it an opportunity for us to be debt free, it was an adventure with my man!
Every season has challenges and there are countless moments along the way where we have opportunities to make decisions that give our marriages life. No one wants to live in a lifeless marriage, but many do. Others jump ship at the first sign of trouble and some stay in marriages that died long ago and they feel mostly like a prisoner.
Everyone’s circumstances are different, but I encourage you to never pass up a chance to breathe new life into your marriage. God has a good plan. He gave us His Word to help us navigate life and relationships and I guarantee you that if you bring your marriage before Him and seek Him for wisdom, He will NOT fail you…and if you have the chance to love your man for a lifetime, take it!