My wife Becky turns 40 today. She’s so cool she doesn’t even care if you know how old she is. “What’s it feel like to be married to an old person?” she said to me yesterday. (I turn 38 this fall, by the way.) “I wouldn’t know,” I said.
Last week we attended a Valentine’s sweethearts dinner for pastors and their wives in the area hosted by another local church. They had set up a collection of tables for two and volunteers served us chicken piccata over linguine by candlelight. They gave us a sheet of suggested questions for “couple talk.” We played the Newlywed Game (and a pair of actual newlyweds won). The whole night we enjoyed playing by the rules, but we also enjoyed — don’t tell anybody — making light fun of the questions. One of the listed instructions said to “reflect quietly on your life together,” so I rested my chin on my fist and stared dreamily off to space. Becky laughed out loud.
We’ve spent our married life (17 years this summer) not playing by the rules, really. Got married in college. Becky never finished. Went into debt. Moved away from family. Becky became the breadwinner, while I did the stay-at-home dad thing for about eight years.
We broke the rules of grace too — me especially. I broke the rules of God and I broke our marriage. But Becky broke the rule of common sense. She didn’t love me for a while, and especially didn’t like me. But she hung in there with me. Even when she asked me to leave, she still didn’t let me go. The rules of the modern relationship road all pointed to kicking me to the curb. She gave me grace. And when God granted me repentance, over time Becky granted me trust. And against all odds, she fell in love with me again.
When we first got married, we were like every other annoying ooey-gooey newlywed couple — naive about marriage and sin and the realities of real people living in close proximity with the best behavior of courtship long gone. People would say to us, “Just wait.” They wanted us to know things were gonna get awful. All these years later, some seem resigned to staying true to their own words. Their marriages are self-fulfilling prophecies. Ours? We can’t get enough of each other. We’re breaking their stupid rules about how married people our age are supposed to behave. While some couples can’t wait to spend time apart, we can’t wait to spend time together. God did this.
But he used Becky. He is still using Becky, who is amazingly creative, wonderfully sarcastic, gently humbling, constantly encouraging, faithfully supporting, abundantly creative, and persistently gracious. I can’t believe she’s mine. I deserve one of those dreary wives constantly sighing and tsking. The ones who are following the rules of how you treat dumb husbands. But my wife is a living, walking, loving picture of grace to me.
Becky is 40 years awesome today, and it reminds me that I’m eternally blessed.
I love you, baby. Thanks for breaking the rules with me (and for me) every day.