I let out a nervous laugh so I wouldn't fall onto the floor in a heap of tears and exhaustion. Boy, did life at that moment look very different from the future of bliss that I had pictured on my wedding day. Truth is, between work and school and responsibilities and sickness and all-nighters and life, I hadn't had one complete conversation with Tyler in days. I missed my husband. And I was frustrated with the wife I had become in the midst of the stress.
You see, I can answer the phone in a fake happy tone. I can choose to write positive facebook posts and even pull off a smile for the Schwann's Man when he shows up at my door at the most inconvenient times. But there's no faking it with Tyler. He knows the real me, for better and for worse. And if I'm not careful, the one who I pledged all of those heartfelt vows to on my wedding day can get the last and the least of what I have to give at the end of a long, hard day.
I looked at that picture that day longer than I had in years. I'll never forget our photographer saying that the shots right after the ceremony always turn out the best because they capture the emotion and joy of the day. He even shared a story of one couple who reported to him that their wedding photographs had saved their marriage. In a time when their relationship was in turmoil, they looked back to pictures from their wedding day and remembered how it all started. The look in their eyes. The vows before God. The commitment. The hope. The excitement and somewhat naive invincibility of facing a new life together.
In an instant, I studied our cheeks pressed together... my cheesy smile... Tyler's bloodshot eyes from his tears that flowed throughout the ceremony...
...and I made a choice to go back. Back to the "vicious cycle".
Much of our wedding day is a blur, but one thing I'll never forget is our pastor friend speaking of the "vicious cycle" of love and respect that day. Since then it has become a popular term that Tyler and I refer to often in our marriage. It's the "vicious cycle" that's explained in Ephesians 5: when I respect and submit to Tyler out of obedience to God, then it prompts him to respond in love. And when he loves me as Christ loved the church, I want to respect and submit all the more. And the cycle continues.
Unless life gets messy, and then it doesn't.
The challenge? Choosing to be the one to reset the cycle when it's broken. Not because it's easy. Or fair. Or because I feel like doing it. But because there is joy and freedom when I follow God and His design for marriage.
"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" ~Ephesians 5:21