Fifteen years ago today I became his wife and he became my husband. We recited the traditional wedding vows and fed each other cake and left the building as Mr. and Mrs. Sweeney.
Fifteen years and five kids later, here we are.
If you've missed it, I told our dating and engagement story on our eleventh anniversary, titled "LOVE is a verb".
For our twelfth anniversary, I wrote the glass blower which talked about how the seasons of marriage change with time.
I seemed to have skipped year thirteen, but last year I wrote a letter to my 22 year-old self as I was reflecting on fourteen years of marriage.
This year I decided on a "He Said, She Said" question and answer format. It is always fun to hear from his side of the marriage relationship. His honest answers make me giggle and cherish him that much more.
1. What do you remember about your decision to propose?
He Said: We had a fight over whether your dog would live indoors or outdoors. We didn’t speak for three days and I quickly decided that life was empty without you and I needed to seal this deal quickly.
She Said: I didn't propose, but I knew we were heading that direction. I knew that he was the man I wanted to marry. We had the same values, enjoyed doing the same things, and made each other laugh. And we still do. I'm so glad he asked!
2. How has marriage been different or the same as your expectations as a single adult?
He Said: I entered marriage with the delusion that it would be the same as being a single adult (I was 22 after all) except I would be living with my best friend. This naïve belief was quickly shattered within the first month and led to a tumultuous 18 months of marriage. However, during that time I never questioned my decision since I had sampled three days without Laurie and knew that was untenable (as a first born I don’t mind a little conflict in my life….keeps it interesting).
She Said: Marriage has been very different than I expected as a very young single adult. Luckily, now I haven't known any other life. I have several friends who got married at a much more mature age than we did, so I'm sure they had time to savor or lament the single life. Not me. Being married at 22 years old means that we had to do a lot of our adult maturing together - and that's messy.
We had to figure out how to live on our own, build a relationship, succeed at our work, balance our extended families, and just put the puzzle of our life (and individual lives) together. Not to mention adding our first child at 26 years old. Managing finances was much more complicated than I expected (must we really have a plan for the future? ;-))
Conflict within marriage was so much harder than I anticipated and we had to work through many years - and still even now - of learning to resolve conflict in a healthy way (I'm a middle child, so I RUN from conflict).
3. What has marriage taught you?
- Choosing your spouse is the ABSOLUTELY most critical decision you will EVER make in your life and you better choose wisely (seek wise read OLD counsel).
- The world doesn’t actually revolve around me.
- Physical aspects of marriage are incredible, but make up an infinitesimal fraction of married life.
- Love/speak to your spouse the way they want to receive words/love, not how you want to give it.
- I am lucky/blessed to be married to Laurie Kate Sweeney.
- Ditto to all the above although insert Kenyon in his last point.
- I will add that marriage has taught me (the hard way) that I find joy and contentment when I stop focusing on myself and look for opportunities to serve others. For the last decade and a half, that has meant serving my husband and children. I have not always been good at it and often have to learn the same lesson over and over. Marriage works better when each parties are more concerned with the other's needs. It is not easy, but it is true.
- Things usually change for the better as soon as I find a way to be content with how they are now. Contentment is a decision.
4. If you haven't addressed it in the previous answers, what is/was the toughest part of marriage? Or do you have a biggest regret?
- Worrying about finances and allowing this to be a flash point in our relationship.
- Not choosing my words more carefully in conflicts in our first 2 years of marriage (or occasionally in the present).
She Said: The toughest part for me has for sure been times of conflict. Well, equal to it is deciding to die to myself and put my husband before me.
My biggest regret is hanging onto unforgiveness. I wasted so much time with grudges and if I could go back and do it better, I would.
5. What is your favorite memory (excluding births) in your marriage?
- Laughing with each other (i.e. Naples liquor store run, Pop up camper malfunction at Utah Lake, Boys “rafting” down CJ’s stream, listening to Car Talk on way to Moab, etc…)
She Said: My favorite memories are the relaxing times that we have been able to appreciate "just us" by getting away from all the noise of everyday life. Whether we get away for one overnight at Stein's, or a weekend in Palm Desert, or ten days in Ireland, we always laugh and connect and come home refreshed in our relationship. Above all, we are reminded that we really like each other.
6. What are your marriage goals looking forward?
- To LIKE each other more in 30 years than we do today. (side note: we really do like each other now).
She Said: I really want to work to out-serve each other. We are always happier when we are working to make the other's needs above our own. I am mindful of the fact that we won't have a houseful of kids forever and when they're gone, we need to like being together.
I also want to make time alone together a priority. We recently realized that our date nights alone have become a thing of the past, but really enjoyed our time together one day when we had to repair something together at our rental property. We decided that our evenings are busy with five kids, so we're going to get a sitter for breakfast or lunch dates instead and enjoy the daytime together.
7. What is your favorite quality of your spouse?
- Sense of humor
- Drive to care for those in need
- Desire to love me selflessly
- Independent & strong
- Sense of humor
- Willingness to father a huge family (and work to father each one well)
- Drive to provide for this huge family
- Willingness to apologize with a humble and sincere heart (even going so far to use the word "jacka$$" in reference to his behavior, which never fails to make me laugh)
- Passionate about people and things that matter to him.
- Loyal always