We got married on 5 February 2011 – and have just celebrated our third anniversary – we made it!!

Year three was hands down the hardest for us so far, & we have had to learn how to be a team in really difficult circumstances. Practically life was challenging on pretty much all fronts, and our marriage took a lot of strain.

From the beginning of our relationship ‘love as a choice’ has been a theme for us. We were very aware that marriage wouldn’t be all sunshine skipping & unicorns; that a time would come when the realities of sharing your everything with another person would be less than delightful, & we would have to choose to love them anyway.

We included the following in our wedding vows: ‘I choose to share my life with you. Loving what I know of you, & trusting what I do not yet know.’ ‘When life is difficult, I choose to turn with you towards God, and not away from you.’ How grateful are we to our past selves to putting that in writing, because that is exactly what we have had to do.

Our wedding rings both have ‘chosen in love’ engraved on the outside. We did this so that all through our marriage we would carry the following reminders.

  • We are chosen & loved by God.You did not choose me, but I chose you’, God says(John 15:16) ‘He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.’ (Eph 1) God’s love is our strength & our safe place, it teaches us what love looks like, & empowers us to love each other well.
  • We have a husband/ wife who chose us, made a decision to be with us in whatever we may face. Wow there is such comfort in that!
  • We each chose this. I chose to promise to love & respect him.  Every day we have the opportunity to choose again; we choose to love, & forgive. We choose to put the other first or behave selfishly.

When Ashley’s actions are confusing to me and I feel vulnerable as a result, I have a choice to make. I can choose to be hurt, and take it personally, letting my imagination & emotions get carried away. Or I can choose to approach him about it; explaining how I interpreted it, how I am feeling & why it was hurtful to me. We can work it out; apologise if we need to, understand the other a little better & get back on the same page.

If I say something that makes Ashley feel disrespected – and in the chaos of life we can’t sit down & have a tête a tête about it straight away – Ashley has a choice. He can choose to be wounded & let bitterness take the gap. He can add it to the list of things I don’t get right & mull over it during the day. He can also choose ‘suspend judgement’ until we’ve talked it through. He can choose to give me the benefit of the doubt; trust that I genuinely respect & appreciate him, even I don’t express it well all the time.

When we do hurt each other, even intentionally out of fear or anger, we still have a choice to respond in love. If we disagree about big things, we can choose to behave in a loving way, caring for each other as we process things.

It takes work & self-control to get this right, but we’re learning. And choosing to show each other grace in the process.

[To continue on to Year 5 and read the story of Jackie and Tim Barker, click here]