Thirty years ago I made the best decision of my life–but I really didn’t understand that at the time.
I don’t know how a 21-year-old can truly realize how important the choice of mate is. It’s so easy to think that love is all you need–and I did love Keith. It’s so easy to think that life will always be an exciting adventure, and that you will always feel so desperate to be together the way you do when you are dating.
You don’t realize that’s actually not the powerful stuff.
The kind of love that lasts through decades, that adjusts to foibles, that shares the deepest memories and pains and joys–that’s the powerful stuff.
I honestly can’t imagine my life without Keith.
In some ways we still grate on each other. I take his water bottle all the time, even though he likes cold water and he really hates it when it’s not in the fridge when he wants it. (I have two of my own, but I always leave them all over the house and can never find them). If he goes on errands, he will always forget at least one thing, even if he writes it down. He gets super grumpy when he’s driving and I’m supposed to be giving directions–because I get super grumpy when I’m trying to figure out where we are.
He’d rather go to bed earlier than me, and get up earlier, but we compromise. He hates fish, and I love it, so I rarely make it and I miss that. I absolutely adore ballroom dancing, and he tolerates it, but he does it for me anyway.
We had a rough first few years–not because we didn’t love each other, but because we had some major adjustments to make.
And then we had a huge tragedy when our son died.
But somehow working through those things just showed us that it’s so much easier together than it is apart, even with everyone’s foibles.
And yet I know that is not the case for every couple. And so I am grateful I have him.
We raised two girls together, and we truly loved it.
When I think back to the happiest years of my life, I would hands down say it was when the girls were 3-10. We just had so much fun. We had fun friends. While Keith worked a ton, we weren’t too busy as a couple. We were homeschooling, and all the teenage drama hadn’t started yet, and I just truly enjoyed my daughters.
Now they are grown and they have each married good men, and I have more time to do the things I feel called to do, and it is draining. Life is not easy the way it was twenty years ago.
And yet Keith is still here and he has become my support. While I was his support when he was doing 10 calls a month, and not sleeping very much, because our hospital was so chronically understaffed; when he was called at Katie’s third birthday party because a shaken baby had been brought in and was actively dying (he later did; I will always remember little Tyler’s name); when he just could never relax because the pager could go off at any minute–I tried to keep everything running smoothly, and I did.
A few times I answered the pager; when he was just too exhausted and ready to collapse, and I would tell the person at the other end of the line that if they wanted him there tomorrow, they needed to leave him alone tonight. Not often, but when he was ready to break.
Today it is Keith who is keeping things running smoothly. Who runs interference for me. Who is helping me keep perspective when I’m down. Who is helping me talk through things as we go on walks at the end of a hard day. Who took on all the laundry!
Who is helping me not give up, even when I’m tired.
Who makes me laugh.
Sometimes I have a hard time talking about how awesome my husband is, because I know so many of my readers don’t have that.
Even right now I’m embroiled in a controversy on social media because our newest study found that roughly half of Christian men use porn currently, and some abuse advocates feel that our study was a personal betrayal, because the number is higher and we’re distorting it.
I know the pain that so many feel because their husband isn’t a good man.
Why did I get a good man while others didn’t? That’s a hard one to answer. And I truly don’t know.
But he is a good man. And there are so many more good men that I know. Men who love their wives, who love their kids, who are responsible with their time, their money. Who want to honor their commitments. Who want to make the world a better place.
I am so grateful my husband is chief among those.
Thirty years is a long time.
Sometimes we don’t have much to talk about. I already know it all. He already knows it all. There’s really nothing new. And so instead we dream about the next few years. We talk about our favourite memories. Where we’d like to go next (if we’re ever allowed to go anywhere again; three days ago we cancelled our thirtieth anniversary cruise).
We dream about watching our grandchildren grow up and the role that we will play in their lives. We talk about old friends and new ones; we think about our parents and our families and how things may look different in a decade or two.
And unspoken there’s always the question: I wonder how long we will have together?
I pray that it’s another thirty years, because I will never find another Keith.
And so today we’re going to hold each other close and remember a little boy who isn’t with us anymore, and celebrate a new little girl who is.
We will think about the two kids who married in 1991 and didn’t have a clue about life–and how somehow we grew together and made each other better people.
I would not be who I am without Keith. He has healed so many wounds deep inside me, just by loving me. I hope I have done the same for him.
And I love him, dearly.
PS: Many have asked how they can support us at this time.
And I really appreciate the question! And all the notes of encouragement I’ve been sent over the last week.
Of course, buy The Great Sex Rescue for everyone you know! Give one to your pastor, your seminary professor, your women’s ministry leader. Pre-order The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex (if you’re going to buy it anyway, pre-ordering helps us immensely!).
And you can also join our Patreon for as little as $5 a month. That money supports Joanna and Rebecca as they try to do more research and get into peer reviewed journals, and they’re both really tired right now.
And finally, pray for us for encouragement and rest! We’re going into a busy season, and we feel a little beaten up. But there is much to do, and together we are all making a difference and changing the conversation around sex and marriage in the evangelical church.
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of Bare Marriage
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