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The Story of Your Marriage

by Chris Bruno

The window-unit air conditioner only cooled the small living room of our first apartment, and on hot and sticky Chicago summer nights, we’d pull out the hide-a-bed from my grandmother’s 40 year old couch to sleep. But the ancient lumpy mattress didn’t bother these newlyweds. It was a bed to share, and that was all that mattered.

From the money gifted to us for our wedding, we bought two things: a dining room table, and an extravagant honeymoon to Italy. Just barely old enough to drink, we felt like imposters traveling the globe and seeing such amazing sights. We ate lavishly, experienced some of Italy’s most stunning sights, wandered quaint off-the-beaten-path alleys and markets. It was the honeymoon of our dreams. And we spent every penny of our wedding money, and never regretted it. Like rich, red Italian wine, we uncorked a part of ourselves on that trip and started writing a narrative for our marriage that would play out over the decades to come.

Though we didn’t have language for it at the time, our younger newly married selves stumbled our way into an unfolding story…a narrative, a theme, a commitment, a value, a posture…whatever you’d like to call it, we found a way of being in the world together that became the story of us: Adventure is worth a lumpy mattress.

We returned from that honeymoon with no jobs and no money, and the task of truly adulting began in earnest. The next years were spent establishing a home, gathering friends around that small dining room table, and finding our way in the workforce. While on the outside we may have looked like the typical young couple trying to “make it” together, deep inside both of us lived and grew the story of adventure that would bring shape to our decisions and directions for the rest of our lives.

Over the course of the next few decades, we came often to the precipice of choice, having to make a decision between multiple good options. Significant and honoring job offers in the marketplace and academia, invitations to lead large-scale ministry projects, opportunities to lead well-known and impactful organizations… And to be honest, each invitation felt both honoring and tempting. Who wouldn’t want to say “yes!” to each of these? Who doesn’t want to be wanted?

After the first few moments (or days) of consideration, we’d find ourselves recentering and coming back to the plumb-line of our marriage story: would we choose adventure or comfort? Would we live “uncorked,” or would we choose the path that provided the most stability, security,and reason?

Adventure is worth a lumpy mattress. And so, with each choice, our words to each other have been: “Well, which one is the most adventurous?”

Please don’t misunderstand. This story in our marriage is not one of asceticism, where we are choosing to deny ourselves opportunity for the sake of keeping the proverbial hide-a-bed. No, instead it is one where we ask ourselves, “Would we rather choose adventure or safety? Would we rather choose the known over the unknown? Would we rather buy a plane ticket or replace grandma’s couch?” Consistently, when we’ve come to these choices and measure them against the unfolding narrative over the course of our marriage, we consistently see God’s invitation to step off the well-worn path and choose that which may make no earthly sense but is laden with adventure. It is just how we roll.

Every marriage has a story. Every marriage is a story, one that is unique to your coupling and your purpose and your way of being in the world. God is writing in and through you a story he wants to tell, and he invites you to uncover the treasures he has buried there. What is the story of your marriage?

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