I’m a slow learner. I think I’m beginning to understand love. I finally grasp how to be married. Praise God for my husband’s tenacity! We’ve been married thirty-six years.

Tim & Melinda Inman, wedding

When we first married, I thought the young passion we felt was the height of love. It was erotic and temperamental. We fought. I threw things. We yelled. We made up. But at the core of that was the struggle, each attempting to change the other into our own image.

We were very young, still teens. We had broken all the rules. But for the grace of God, we wouldn’t have made it. As we grew to become ourselves, we tried to drag the other in.

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Our house filled up with children as Tim finished his education. We spent thirty-five years raising them, homeschooling for twenty-eight. Passion continued, but our lives were dictated by babies and toddlers and breast milk, by classes and tragedies, by adolescents and young adults and hours of ferrying kids around every day. We were on call 24/7.

Dad, Mom, and Art at Tim's bachelor's graduation, 1989 Grandma at the hospital with all of us when Grant was born

We walked together. We went out for coffee. We had dates. We held onto the “we”.

But, it took me decades to accept that he is who he is and I am who I am.

To quit trying to change him.

To accept his besetting struggles.

To let go of their effects.

To embrace all the parts of him, broken and strong.

To see past his weaknesses.

To see the strengths that had undergirded our marriage for decades.

To see the man.

Having been a blind and selfish teenage girl with broken dreams, my self-centeredness in the first decades had kept me from truly seeing him. Yet he remained. He had accepted me long before.

Inman family at Katherine's graduation party

Tim and Lilly

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As my eyes opened, I realized the miracle that he is, the man who models Christlikeness through his commitment, even to a temperamental wife, the man who took on supporting a family at age eighteen, the man who laid down his dreams to love us all with his whole heart.

Until death do us part puts on skin and bones when your hair turns gray, your health begins to fail, you have bifocals to adjust, and your first bridge goes into your mouth.

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When not simmering in the soup of the daily care of children, you open your eyes and see that the black-haired hottie you married can’t read the article you’re showing him unless he can find his glasses, wherever he put them. You love to kiss his bald spot best of all, and when you look at him, you still see him as 25. It’s then, in the aging, that you really understand that this is for life. When you made the promise you meant it, but now it wears wrinkled skin.

You know he will die. You will, too. More and more your eyes are opened to how fleeting is this life and how did it all go so fast and when did we get old?

This life flies by. Today he turns fifty-five.

So teach us, Lord, to number our days.

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Living with this man has formed and shaped me. I fell in love with him when I was 14. I have slept in his arms for decades. In our sleep, we find one another. Our tossings and turnings are synchronized. His morning scent is my favorite fragrance in the world.

And so, I commemorate a lifetime of love, restating my commitment to him.

Until death parts us, he is mine and I am his. Happy birthday, dearest husband.