I am not married to the same man I married 8 years ago. And he is certainly not married to the same woman. We honestly had no idea what we were doing. We thought we did, and no one could have convinced us any differently. Love-struck, doe-eyed, ready to conquer the world together. It was incredible.

And it still is, but in a very different way. 

Very few people tell you that falling in love is not a once-off thing. That it has to happen every single morning. And sometimes – more often than not- you have to force it. 

I love this man I’m married to now. He has more lines on his face, a heck of a lot more grey hairs (lets blame the 3 kids…) and he knows a lot more about me that I ever hoped he would – definitely not all good. But I guess that’s real intimacy. Knowing it all and still loving it all. He’s as solid as a rock when I’m all over the place. I’m vocal when he’s silent. The classic introvert, extrovert partnership.

This marriage thing is not for the faint-hearted. Thankfully, even at the start of our relationship, we were under no illusion that we were each other’s saviours. No knights on white horses here. Thankfully, we both knew a God who had done that job already. This has made all the difference in the last 8 years. I don’t know how we could have done it – the 3 international moves, the 3 pregnancies, births, sleepless nights, job stress, sickness, redundancy, in-laws…. without handing it all to God, together, regularly. We would have crumbled under the pressure.

Life with 3 kids has been especially difficult. They’re lovely, don’t get me wrong. They just take up ALL of your time and sap you dry. I dream of the day when we can leave them with family and head off for a romantic weekend, just the two of us… where we’ll probably just sleep. And I really do mean sleep.

(Living on the other side of the globe to your family does create a problem in that regard, so it may still be a long wait for the dream to become reality.)

Some well meaning older and wiser folk advised us when we first got married to hold to the motto: ‘Divorce is never an option!’… The reality is that divorce is always an option. It’s everywhere – our tv screens, the neighbour, now my best friend. It’s a threat we should take seriously and never stop working against.

We’ve found that laughter, fun and adventure is like medicine. Its not always easy, but it helps to not take life too seriously and to not sweat the small stuff. Save it for when things get really tough, which they inevitably will in any marriage that lasts a lifetime.

[For another Year 9 story of Marriage with Bettina and Kevin van Antwerpen, click here]