Seven Things I Wish I had Grasped Before Walking the Aisle {and some TMI thrown in}

It was 13 years yesterday.

As I wrapped gifts to celebrate a daughter's birthday, then lined the kitchen table with eight children's dinner plates and waited for baseball practice to end, I felt certain this was not what I had pictured holding my weeping daddy's hand as he walked me slowly down the aisle.

Maybe that's God's mercy...

Maybe that's His humor...

Maybe that's His pursuit...

Whatever it is, I realized there are a few things I wish I had grasped before those doors swung open and I saw this good-looking guy that day...

1. Marriage is not a fairytale ~ Abandon the expectations.

Coming from a couple who was told by our counselor that our Myers Briggs types have the highest percentage of divorce, the imagination of it possibly being a fairytale should have been a joke, but every woman was a little Cinderella once upon a time.

Our first year was dark, like black hole dark. So were our second and third. Jamie and I are polar opposites on every personality test in every area.

Our expectations of one another lined our coffins. There was no way for us not to hit a dead end.

But it was the dead end that saved our lives.

In honesty, it wasn't until Memorial Day 2007 when we wept from our knees beside our bed and surrendered our vision of our marriage, our family, our careers and futures to our Savior that our dance ~ the real one ~ began.

Before then, we had simply been attempting to take one another out by stomping on the others toes the hardest.

2. I'm not Wonder Woman ~ Own that.

Although my anniversary gift would suggest differently...


I'm not, but I really wanted to be for Jamie. That's what you do when you love someone, right?


I crashed and burned early on, and to burn out on the most significant and present relationship in your life is intensely depressing.

After our dead end, we sat down, and I asked, What are the three constants you desire from me {aside from my love for Jesus}? 

Creative dinners? A clean house? A fit body? Intentional motherhood? Lots of sex? A consistent income?

Because Folks, I can't do it all.

Jamie doesn't care if we eat sandwiches every single night of the week; if I have spent my day being an intentional mother, and I'm still ready to jump him when he comes home, he's in heaven on earth.

That doesn't mean we don't ever have dinner, but it did help me prioritize what matters to Jamie and not exhaust myself trying to be all things to all people in my home.

3. Intimacy doesn't just happen ~ Pray for it.

One of my first prayers every, single morning is, God, thrill me to Jamie's touch today.

The Father longs for us to delight in one another in this area, and Satan longs for it to be screwed, twisted and stale.

It is worth fighting and planning for, and the reality is when you have a crazy life, sometimes you've got to plan...

Or at least get locks on your doors that work.

4. You really can't plan your family's growth ~ If God has another plan.

As we drove home from premarital counseling, Jamie said, I think two kids would be perfect. Maybe four or five years apart?

Me: That sounds good. Maybe we could pray about three?

Jamie: Sure, but definitely not more than that.

By the time we had been married five years, we had three sons from three different attempted forms of birth control.

I was a postpartum nightmare walking.

That dead end day, we said it...No more preventing children. We'll leave it to God totally.

I have not been pregnant since that day, and we have not attempted to stop the biological growth of our family in any way, shape or form.

You can throw all your medical books and advice at me, but when it boils down to it, God's going to accomplish His purposes as He sees fit.

And it's beautiful to abandon your dreams to that in the way He calls you to.

5. Marriage does not make your root sins disappear ~ It often accelerates them.

Marriage embodies our deepest achings and longings. It's the fulfillment of companionship, years of relational wandering...the climax of our finally belonging.

In that moment and the months that follow, a little lie implants into our new found spaces of comfort, and the battles we once forged against impurity and recognizing our beauty in Christ become backdrops.

Until the roots unknowingly dig deeper and begin to shift the convenient foundations we've come to know.

Our enemy prowls seeking whom He may devour.

He does not pounce.

He is not irrational.

He stalks and waits and weaves webs of doubt and insecurity.

If we are not sinking deep into the truths of the Word and constantly preaching the Gospel to ourselves, we will be shattered with the raw surprise of sin.

6. Determine your standard of living early on ~ And don't let it creep as your income grows.

One of the first things Jamie said to me in our premarital counseling stage was, We will determine what we need financially to live when we're young and broke, and we will not let our money control us as we grow older.

I thank God for this conversation every day.

Yes, caring for eight children is quite different than when it was just us. It requires a bit more financially.

This does not mean we don't make room to enjoy the money God provides.

It doesn't mean we're intensely frugal {because I stink at frugality}.

But, it does mean we weigh everything that comes our way.

It means we recognize we are simply stewards of God's provision to us.

It means we don't cash in on first-world luxuries because we made it a priority early in our marriage to view our money in a very different way than the culture does.

7. Marriage is not about my happiness ~ It's about Jesus.

I'm can't remember every second of these last 13 years.

I'm not sure where the days, or weeks, or months have gone.

I can guess that the difficulty to number these moments will only accelerate we grow in our married life.

The culture longs to claim these times. Satan longs to mark these moments.

Our marriage is one of the primary things the Father is using to make Jamie and me look like His son.

And we don't look a whole lot like Him right now.

So it's a slow process of chiseling, pounding, hammering...

And most days that doesn't feel good.

But every now and then, Jamie will do something, and it takes my breath away because I see straight through Him to the heart of my Savior.

I sometimes imagine what it will be like to look each other eye to eye one day in the presence of Christ, to utterly grasp that the culmination of every step in this journey we call marriage has simply laid the stepping stones for the eternity for which we were designed.

I want to taste that a little more every day.

Because of Jesus ~


  1. Catie - Thank you so much for your honesty and openness. This was such a beautiful encouragement to me!

  2. I am always amazed and in awe of your posts but this one is on a whole new level. Thank you for your openness and your honesty..... You touch and change lives everyday whether you know it or not inside your home and through your social media and blog postings. Thank you Catie for being a willing vessel and sharing your heart!

  3. I, too always love your writing and your honesty--especially in this post! I don't know how to explain it but somehow, it makes you more relatable and down to earth ---even with your eyes focused on Jesus! God Bless you both!

  4. I laughed, I cried, I related. You are an incredible writer and I'm so very grateful to have recently found you.

    Congratulations on 13 years!