In the year we moved back to the United States, we celebrated our thirty-third birthdays, and we also celebrated eleven years of marriage. We had lived a third of a century, and we had lived a third of those years together. This gave us some reason to pause and ask, “How is this whole marriage thing working out?”
Through most of the years in college, including the year we began dating, Chrissy envisioned herself graduating and immediately busting out of the United States to live in a hut in Middle of Nowhere Africa. Near the end of her junior year in college, after we had been dating for a year, she started filling out an application to serve with the Peace Corps somewhere in Africa. Then I caught wind of it.
“Um...what if we got married instead?”
What I said probably wasn’t quite that pointed, nor did we consider ourselves “officially” engaged. But I realized I really didn’t want Chrissy to head off for a two-year commitment, leaving me alone for my senior year and then clueless about what to do my first year out of school. Because of my Spanish major, I pitched a case for her holding off, hanging around with me to finish my last year and then going off to do good somewhere in Latin America. I still don’t know what God did in Chrissy’s heart in that conversation, but she put away the Peace Corps application and never got it out again. Instead we got married. I sure hoped she and I and the world would be a better place for having made that trade.
I cried almost every day of our first year of marriage.
I was a twenty-one-year-old senior at the University of Wisconsin. I didn’t really know anybody within ten years of me who was married. I moved from a plugged-in campus community to an apartment with my wife. I was unmoored and probably kind of a weirdo to my friends. They didn’t know what to do with me (not to mention my wife), and I couldn’t articulate what I was missing from them. I knew I needed to grow up, to take responsibility, to earn some money, to care well for my wife and grow with her, and to prepare for life after my impending graduation. I suddenly felt a lot of pressure. I went for long walks alone. I worked early mornings in a bakery. And I cried.
That’s not to say that starting off our marriage was all bad. In fact, we had heaps of good fun in that first year. For our honeymoon, we headed down to the state of Georgia to live for a summer with an organization that was helping refugees get settled in the United States. Along the way we took a week without any plans and camped and explored from the Midwest down through the Great Smoky Mountains and into northern Georgia. We stumbled upon the WA-Floy Retreat Center in Who-knows-where-ville, Tennessee, and stayed for a couple nights watching peacocks strut around the trees outside our cabin window. We hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail. We went skinny-dipping behind our campsite in some Kentucky state park. We made bean and cheese burritos on our little camp stove in the gravel parking lot of a cool little Baptist church on a quiet country road, laughing at our funny, blessed new life together.
I was torn about not doing a honeymoon the way people expected us to (“You’re going to serve refugees for a honeymoon?”) and still wondering if we were actually better off married to live out what Jesus taught.
Partly to assuage my guilt for not jetting off to Cabo for a typical honeymoon, partly to keep some honest joy and celebration as we went about serving, and partly just to push the future and the magnitude of our commitment out of my mind, I started saying, “The honeymoon never ends!” I made up my mind that we were going to make sure we kept having a great time, finding romantic moments and places, exploring this great big fun world together. At a minimum, it meant putting a romantic spin on Amazing Days. And maybe it would even move us to live out more Amazing Days, to exercise more faith and to have a marriage that mattered.
Initially, this shift into “married mode” was hard and didn’t seem like it was giving us more Amazing Days. But “the honeymoon never ends” was a step for us toward more Amazing Days and more adventurous and better living. It was a proclamation of joyous hope that our being married would make us more capable and effective than we were while single. I doubted it sometimes, but this silly phrase gave me a scimitar to slash at the doubts.
Taken from This Ordinary Adventure by Christine and Adam Jeske. Copyright(c) 2012 by Christine and Adam Jeske. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com
Christine and Adam Jeske have worked in microfinance in South Africa, taught English in China, served in a remote Nicaraguan village, helped refugees start new lives in the United States, and completed M.B.A.s in international economic development. Now back in the U.S., Adam leads the writing and social media team for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and Christine is working on a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology.
Publication date: April 24, 2013