by Travis Naughton
I guess I was about ten or eleven when my folks got divorced. My wife was only a baby when her parents split up. Some of the memories I have from the time before my parents’ marriage fell apart are warm and fuzzy, but most of them are just fuzzy. Bethany, of course, has no recollection of her parents being married due to her young age at the time of their divorce. When she and I became engaged, neither of us had any idea of how to make a marriage work. All we knew was that we loved each other, and that we wanted to have a close-knit family that would stay together through thick and thin.
Our 20th wedding anniversary is tomorrow. Twenty. Years. Although our marriage is far from perfect, I think it is safe to say that ours is a successful one. After two decades together, we are still very much in love. Equally important, we still genuinely like each other. And we have managed to provide a loving and stable home for our three children, giving them the type of childhood both of us yearned for, but neither of us had. Yes, ours is a successful marriage. So far.
We know that we’ll need to work just as hard over the next twenty years to keep our marriage going strong. Make no mistake, maintaining a marriage is a full-time job. (It’s not all fun and games, kids.) And, as is the case with any job, if you consistently fail to give your best effort you will eventually be handed your walking papers. I am extremely lucky to have been offered the position of Bethany’s husband, and I have no intention of ever giving the boss an excuse to kick me to the curb.
One thing I can do to continue earning the privilege of being married to Bethany is to keep improving not only as a spouse but as a person. Despite being drop dead gorgeous, I could stand to lose about twenty pounds. I need to eat and drink less (much less) and exercise more (much more). I need spend less time staring at the screens on my phone and TV, and more time gazing into my wife’s eyes and playing with my kids. I need to be a better listener, a better friend, a better grandson, a better writer, a better teacher, a better dad, and yes—a better husband.
My gift to my bride on our 20th wedding anniversary is this vow:
“Dearest wife, I promise to show you every single day how grateful I am to be your husband. I promise to prove to you how much you mean to me, not only in words but in actions. I promise to try my best to be the husband you deserve. I promise to be a better partner to you and a better parent to our kids. I promise to be more supportive, more helpful, more attentive, and more respectful. I promise to make you laugh more. I promise to take better care of myself because I want to be around to celebrate a lot more anniversaries with you. And I promise to continue loving you with all of my heart until the end of time.”
Happy anniversary, my Love.