11 years: What is love, anyway?

dress My $20 wedding dress! (I bought it at Desert Industries.)


Marriage is hard, they say. Marriage is lots of work, they say. Your marriage is doomed to fail if you marry young, if you have kids too soon, if you aren’t established in your career, they say.

I suppose we’ve beat the odds. 

Tomorrow marks 11 years of marriage.

11 amazing, awesome, wonderful, mindblowingly packed years.

According to the experts, we did all the wrong things–we dated for a week & half, we were engaged for 5 weeks, we got married in our early twenties. We weren’t done with school, we had no established careers. We were broke.

But we loved each other.

As in, we wanted to be with each other every day, from that point on, for the rest of our lives, & well, forever.

So we got married.

How could we know such a thing while still so young, inexperienced?

Because love isn’t a calculation of accomplishments, credentials, & experiences.

Joseph & I grew up in the same small town.

I knew his family, he knew mine. We went to the same church. Our siblings were friends with each other. But because of our age difference (he’s two years older), we never really talked when we were teenagers. Once we finally had a real  conversation (the summer we married), it was as if–get ready for the cliche–we’d known each other our whole lives. From that moment onwards, we both just wanted to be together.

When we dated, our dates consisted of going on walks or going to a park & talking (for hours), or spending time with my family. I felt like I was coming home when I was with him & the feeling was mutual.

Last week I listened to this podcast episode from Tom Ashbrook’s OnPoint, about how the dating demographic is shifting & how technology is playing major a role in the changing landscape for dating & mating.

I listened in fascination. I mean, I did have a period of dating years (really, only about 5, & 2 of those didn’t matter much because I was still in high school), but it seems so long ago & so very different from what is going on now.

So, to hear about women who are older than me now, talk about their discouragement in not being able to find a “good guy” (ie. someone with the same education level & career/family aspirations), is well, a little depressing. “NO, no, no!” I wanted to shout into my ipod. A lot of single people are going about it all wrong. Instead of love, they’re looking for a curated resume, a sort of made-to-order husband/partner. And folks, that is just not what love is about.

I still pinch myself that I married Joseph.


He is a catch in every sense–he is a hands on dad, he loves me & the kids through words, affection, & through a lot of hard work & sacrifice to support our household financially. He is very much a modern dad in that he cooks, cleans, changes diapers, engages/plays with kids.

I wonder though.

I sometimes think that our marriage has been this amazing blessing & journey because both Joseph & I share the same world perspective. We’re both optimistic people. We know how to work hard. We know how to sacrifice now for something better later (8 years of undergrad & law school!). We have very, very similar sense of humors.

I hesitate sharing about our marriage because, it’s hard not do so without sounding braggy.

I have no idea why I was so lucky to meet my soulmate & have the blessing of being able to create a family & life with him. I am being truly honest when I say Joseph & I have never been in a shouting match & it’s been years since we’ve gotten into anything that resembles a fight.

joseph and I

I think one of the perks to being married to an attorney is that he likes to talk, he likes to discuss things. We’re both reasonable people & we both know that as long as we keep our constant communication going, we’ll be good.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY to an awesome marriage. If you can’t or won’t talk to your spouse about anything & everything, you’ll be headed for a lot of grief. I absolutely know this is true.

We’ve had our hard conversations, to be sure.

We’ve had periods of life we’re I’m constantly tired & sick (try 5 pregnancies!).

We’ve had to navigate the world of unemployment, getting into law schools, going to law school, then taking the bar (twice!).

We’ve experienced the chaos of moving, & then moving again (hello military life!). The stresses of raising young children, of not having money, of hoping & praying for jobs & financial security. We’ve done this all together.

I know the trend is for people to get married in their late 20’s or early-mid 30’s now. I realize people want to make sure they have their career established, travel, check off the 50 things on their bucket list. But, dare I even suggest this…why not do all this stuff with your spouse?

I know that mine & Joseph’s marriage is stronger, better, & more able to withstand hardship because we spent so much of our early years working together on really hard stuff. But it didn’t feel so hard, or so bad, because we had each other. We had to learn how to communicate, to give, to sacrifice. All the ups & downs of life in your twenties was buffered because we had each other to lean on.

I’m sad for those people who are intentionally putting off marriage because they want to “live life & get established” before “settling down.” So many awesome opportunities for growing together can be lost with this mindset.

Here’s to 11 years, babe. I chose you, I choose you. Love you x inifinity.




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  1. Katie
    on August 23, 2015 at 11:23 pm said:

    Posted this on Facebook, i loved it so much. Not to say there is any magic to not having problems in marriage, but the whole point is LOVE! Not a magic formula or resume – and sticking through it all together. Happy Anniversary!

  2. Leanne
    on August 23, 2015 at 6:41 am said:

    This is awesome! Happy Anniversary! My hubby and I met on a blind date 17 years ago. We were married after dating for only 1 year. I know people thought we were crazy…but out of his 5 siblings, we are the only couple married. Happily, I might add!

  3. Kim Munoz
    on August 19, 2015 at 2:49 pm said:

    Ahhh! I love this post. I feel almost guilty sometimes for being so happily married when so many of my friends have all been divorced or are single. I want what we have, what you guys have, for everyone. Times have really changed though. And society tells women they don’t need a man and to do their own thing. That makes me sad because they are missing out on something so wonderful!

  4. Crystal B
    on August 19, 2015 at 9:46 am said:

    I loved hearing your relationship story. My husband and I are celebrating 10 years this year. We got married kinda young (24), but our friends told us we were nuts. People told us marriage is hard. I don’t know that I believe that. I think marriage takes work, but that work isn’t always HARD, sometimes, it’s just work. We make it a priority to work on our marriage. We have friends who have been married just a couple of years who are talking about divorce. As an outsider, I see them talking about each other- but not to each other. And I am so thankful that my husband and I talk about everything.

  5. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    on August 19, 2015 at 8:03 am said:

    Happy Anniversary! xoxo

  6. Anna-Lena Stöwhase
    on August 19, 2015 at 5:57 am said:

    Happy Anniversary Janae, it’s good to her from other people who marry at a young age. So did we. I had just turned 21 when I got married and I didn’t regret it. I met my husband when I was 18 and from the very beginning it was clear to both of us that we were going to marry and have children. After a year of dating we moved together and soon we had to move from our little hometown to the big city of Munich because of Sven’s work. And I went with him without hesitating.
    After our wedding we had to struggle with infertility which strengthened our relationship even more. Now we are expecting child number 4 and our relationship has become even better over the years.

    • Janae Wise
      on August 19, 2015 at 7:23 am said:

      What a magical story you have. Congrats on your marriage & baby #4! That is quite a big family for Germany, is it not? If you don’t mind me asking, how long did you deal with infertility? It is wonderful to hear that having children has worked out for you. It also makes me happy to hear of others good marriages. Certainly marriage as an institution is still quite relevant, & despite all the bad press, many people have found happiness within its bounds. Thanks for sharing Anna-Lena!

  7. Arlene
    on August 18, 2015 at 9:43 pm said:


    What a beautiful post! Happy Anniversary!!!!