This post is sponsored by “Uncommon Marriage,” the new book by Tony and Lauren Dungy.
As we pulled into the school parking lot, I tried to let the moment sink in. Our twelve-year-old son, Jordan, didn’t pause to think about the significance of this day, however. As he glanced at his new school, nestled in a scenic woods setting, he was anxious for me to park so that we could walk back to the sixth grade pod and join the other students waiting on the back porch. “Bye, Mom,” he said before quickly giving me a kiss and taking off. As he disappeared around the corner, he yelled, “Love you!” Jordan was ready for the start of sixth grade at Learning Gate Community School, itching to head inside for the latest adventure. He wasn’t thinking about the doctors’ prognosis that he might not live long enough to reach middle school. He wasn’t counting the surgeries—more than thirty total—that he’d had since he was an infant. He wasn’t fretting over the speech delay that still sometimes made finding just the right word difficult. Instead, he was eager to join the group of jumping and jostling classmates who were waiting for the bell to ring.
As Tony and I talked about Jordan’s first day later on, we agreed that enrolling him in a mainstream classroom was an answer to twelve years of prayer. Who knew what more lay ahead for him? Because of Tony’s career in professional football, some aspects of our lives have been visible to the public. Yet it’s largely the moments like this one—small but full of significance to us—that have defined our marriage. We believe it’s because of our unwavering commitment to support each other and to live out certain principles that we have enjoyed a marriage spanning more than three decades—an uncommon feat in this day and age. We don’t feel like experts, and the examples and principles we’ve tried to follow haven’t resulted in a neat, tidy formula. In fact, we don’t think that marriage can be captured through a formula or a “to do” list.
Relationships are challenging, especially because the miracle of two becoming one is such a mystery given each spouse’s different personalities, desires, and passions. Before we tell our own story, we have to acknowledge that the longevity of our marriage is due, in no small part, to the examples our own parents gave us. Their examples were similar in important ways, like looking to the Bible for answers, but so different in the way those values were expressed in their daily lives. That has meant, at times, we have had to work through the different examples and resulting expectations that we brought into marriage.
So often in life and in marriage, we’ve discovered, there isn’t a clear path. After all, as the apostle James wrote, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?” (James 4:14). Instead, we walk forward, hand-in-hand, and make a path.
“Writing this book has been a walk down memory lane for us, a chance to pause and reflect, even as life surges on around us, to remember many of the shared experiences of our thirty-plus years together. This journey has been more fun than we even anticipated. More than anything, it has been a reminder that we have been blessed by a gracious, loving God who has walked alongside us every step of this journey, as well as by wonderful parents who blazed a trail for us. We pray you will feel the Lord’s presence in your relationship as well.