Fifteen ~ This Adventure called Marriage

Part of the Big Sky Big Dreams blog series.

Coming to you live from Happy Hour at Billy's Burger's, downtown historic Jackson, WY.

Oh yeah, baby. I love vacation. Bring on the beef burgers.

Fifteen years ago this month Damien and I were married. Part of this trip out west is an anniversary vacation for us, the longest time we've been alone since having children. We're loving it.

I've been delighted to discover I love being with this man as much as ever. We're half-way through these child raising yearsand it's encouraging to realize we still share the very essence of who we are in common. It's not just our children that bind us together.

It's friendship, commitment, faith, love, a sense of adventure and healthy dose of fun. We're the same people we were when we got married, only we've gotten better with age.

We still have our misunderstandings and more recently we're figuring out the give and take of raising kids, caring for home, earning a livelihood, and making our individual and family dreams a reality. But there is no other person on earth I'd rather share this journey with. You're the one for me babe.

In honor of being married to this amazing man for fifteen years (and in the spirit of our adventurous trip) I'm re-posting one of my favorite posts I've written about our marriage. I originally published this last year at our outdoors blog. It's all still true today. Even more so.

This month we celebrated fourteen years of marriage. We committed "till death do us part" so we're in for the long haul. Fourteen isn't as much as 25 or 30 but it's on the way there. It's a milestone worth marking.

When I made my vows as a young woman there were many things I didn't know about this man with whom I share my heart, body, struggles, hopes, plans, toil, children, memories and laughter. But I knew the really important things: he was committed to his faith, was a man of his word, valued family and cherished me. What more was there to really know?

Of course there was more to know and I spent our pre-marriage days finding out all I could about this man to judge if he would be a suitable partner for the rest of my life. I had a mental checklist and I seriously critiqued him in those most important areas (and some not so important) before I even allowed myself to consider "falling in love". But when I fell baby, boy did I ever. Damien is the center of my world and it feels scary and vulnerable to admit such intense devotion to my husband.

I know I've written a little about that here before. And I also know that writing about matters of the heart is a bit of a deviation from trip reports, minimalist shoe reviews and backpacking tent recommendations. But I can honestly say behind all those techy/gear type posts is a marriage partnership and shared activity between an adventure-loving husband and a learning-to-love adventure wife. The heartbeat of everything we do together and write, even gear reviews, is our love for each other.

Damien's love for me was his giving up competitive cycling because it interfered too much with family time. Then finding a new physical activity we could all do together and patiently encouraging us every step of they way. Never forcing, but leading in love. Love is his research and planning to get gear to keep me comfortable, safe and warm. It's carrying my camera and sometimes even my pack when I'm miserable and dare I say, a pain in the ass.

My role in all of this has been mostly responsive; it is realizing that outdoor adventures make him happy and choosing to follow because loving this man means loving adventure.

How ironic, and perhaps not so surprising, that this innate interest of his is both so attractive and compelling to me (I am inspired by people who push the boundaries) and at the same time exasperating. And I guess this is one of those things that I didn't realize when I married this man; how much I'd grow and change for the better in choosing to support, embrace and learn to love something he loves.

I am not trying to say "look at me, aren't I the model wife". If only you could see the tears of self-pity I've shed, the shameful outbursts on the trail and the woes-me complex I sometimes carry around. Pathetic.

Marriage means sacrifice. It means giving up of ourselves to help our spouses realize their dreams and potential. Walking hand in hand with someone, helping them become who they were meant to be. Isn't this the best gift we can give each other?

Of course this sacrifice goes both ways and I would not want you to think I'm the one who has given up the most. I'm fairly certain that is not the case. We don't keep tabs on that in our relationship but I'm pretty certain Damien has given up more for me. Being the sole provider for years, being steadfast in that responsibility so I can stay home and fulfill my dream as a stay at home mother, homemaker, homeschooler. This was my ambition. And Damien makes it possible.

I love this man so much and if what he wants from me is to walk with him through the woods and up mountains (literally and figuratively) why wouldn't I?

Yes, it scares the socks right off me somedays to hear him dream and plan our next life adventure. And the truth be known I don't particularly like sweating and sometimes I feel so tired on the trail I want to fall down and throw a tantrum. But we work through those issues (and a host of others) because that's what you do when you're married. I'm pretty sure that's somewhere in our vows.

I might not have realized Damien was such an adventurous guy when we married. But likewise there was no guarantee he'd be such a great husband and father. So if having adventures with me is what he wants I'm trusting and holding on for the ride.

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  • Laura

    Laura on Aug. 2, 2011, 2:51 a.m.

    Happy anniversary! I hope that I have as much clarity and continued joy in my marriage in 13 years. We only celebrated the big 2 this spring!


  • Jill Foley

    Jill Foley on Aug. 2, 2011, 4:36 a.m.

    We just got back from our own celebration of 15 years! Congrats to you. I remember this post because the line "Loving this man means loving adventure" really resonated with me and my relationship with my own husband.

    We were only gone one night to celebrate our anniversary, but we biked to a couple wineries for some wine tasting (only two, lest we bike under the influence!) then went for a run the next morning. We came home early to gather our kids and my mom and go for a sail. Then today we set out to the coast and a 2 mile hike down to our favorite beach. I would never have dreamed my life to be one of so much adventure, but I wouldn't want it any other way!

    I love that I've connected with you and your family on's an encouragement to me to know there are others on similar paths.

    Congratulations - have a wonderful time on your trip. Too bad you aren't coming just a little further west...we'd take you out for a hike and then a sail.


  • Cindy

    Cindy on Aug. 2, 2011, 12:41 p.m.

    Happy Anniversary, guys!! I didn't catch that you were on this vaca alone! Have a great time! 38 years for us and it just gets better!


  • Shawn

    Shawn on Aug. 2, 2011, 8:41 p.m.

    Wow. As usual, I love your vulnerability in writing, your real self revealed, and your passion for being a wife. It is all incredibly inspiring! As are your photos - in this post, my favorite is the oar on water - the focus and lines/leading line are perfect and create such a calming photo! Happy Anniversary!


  • Jonathan Bowden

    Jonathan Bowden on Aug. 2, 2011, 8:49 p.m.

    Congrats to you and damien!

    as a relatively newcomer to the adventure of marriage (6 years), i am greatly encouraged by reading about your own adventures, joys, and trials!

    wishing you guys 15 merry more years!


  • Jennifer @ kidoing!

    Jennifer @ kidoing! on Aug. 3, 2011, 1:10 a.m.

    Okay, so it's really great to hear I'm not the only gal who doesn't like to sweat. Now that's established, happy anniversary! You look so happy. You are such great role models who show that a marriage can survive raising kids and thrive. Enjoy the rest of your trip.


  • Aurora

    Aurora on Aug. 3, 2011, 11:32 a.m.

    Renee this is a gorgeous post - and congratulations! My husband and I are coming up to 17 years of marriage in December and I too can't believe I have been lucky enough to have such a wonderful husband. Funny you should mention him carrying your pack - we have a few photos of him carrying mine in New Zealand, like a pack mule - his on his back, mine on the front! We are coming to the end of our trip with our 5, 3 and 10 month olds and I know exactly what you mean about negotiating the ins and outs of childraising - being on the road makes it all the more fun LOL!!


  • Maryam

    Maryam on Aug. 3, 2011, 9:18 p.m.

    Thanks for republishing this wonderful post, and congratulations! Your blog has become my favorite to read. Thanks for all the family-centered, homeschooling, life-adventuring inspiration :)


  • Jennifer

    Jennifer on Aug. 4, 2011, 5:19 a.m.

    Happy Anniversary, you two! It is so cool to hear about your relationship and the love and devotion you have for each other. Enjoy this time away. I hope it refreshes you for the road ahead.


  • Auntie Ruth

    Auntie Ruth on Aug. 4, 2011, 2:46 p.m.

    loved the blog, Renee - so glad you two are on the same page and can enjoy similar interests, and you've both had the fortitude to perhaps change and compromise a bit to make it even sweeter~ Blessings to you both, love you lots!!


  • Katie @ Making This Home

    Katie @ Making This Home on Aug. 4, 2011, 5:40 p.m.

    Beautiful thoughts, Renee! I felt the exact same way as you in so many ways. Of course instead of outdoor venturing, it's airplanes for me. But I love that deep, strong love you describe. I could totally see it in both of you during your visit! Relationships like yours are always so inspiring to Martin and me.


  • Kimberly

    Kimberly on Aug. 4, 2011, 7:44 p.m.

    "But I knew the really important things: he was committed to his faith, was a man of his word, valued family and cherished me. What more was there to really know?"

    YES!!!!!!! I feel the same about my husband. We're at 13 years and loving each other more with each year.

    Thanks for being honest about not always loving all the adventures you go on. My husband is definitely more adventuresome and outdoorsy than me. I thought you just naturally enjoyed it all.


  • Heather

    Heather on Aug. 6, 2011, 7:21 p.m.

    Thank you, Renee. That was a beautiful blog entry. I love reading your blog. My husband and I will celebrate 14 years soon, and I think what you wrote her is what so many women need to read. I have grown in many of the same ways over the past (almost) 14 years, trusting my husband to lead us in the way the Lord would have us to go. So many of the things we do now, I would have never considered years ago. But, it has been so worth it! My husband also allows for me to pursue my dream job of wife, mother, homemaker, homeschooler - what a blessing!


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