If I could sit down with twenty-three-year-old me, newly married, careening into motherhood, oh, there’s so much I would tell that girl! Young me had a somewhat unrealistic expectation of “happily ever after,” and if my relationship with my husband ever veered from that, I was sure we were doomed, headed for marital ruin. I concluded that marriage was such a complicated, intricate relationship, and it was only a matter of time before we stopped loving each other. I was an anxious, insecure bride.

I would tell young me that love is a choice you make every day, a muscle that grows with use. You do this when it is hard, and you do this when it is easy. You do this because God asked you to be the person who loves your spouse like Jesus does. And loving like this, it changes you, albeit slowly, into a person who loves more deeply and more enduringly than you ever thought you could.

Love looks like bathing babies and paying bills, arguments and making up, cuddles and good-night kisses, tag teaming day after day as you make history. It looks like forgiveness and maturing, ever so slowly. It looks like learning the rhythms of your partner and figuring out what parts of this dance you do together and what parts you do alone.

Before you know it, decades have gone by, and this love you thought would eventually reach its expiration date is stronger than ever, and you are no longer afraid. You realize that as long as you both keep making the choice to love every day, this love will never die. And you also realize that you do not get to make that choice for your partner; you have to trust that they will also keep choosing to love.

This realization leads you back, full circle, to Jesus. Because you know that He is the only one who can keep your hearts, so rather than praying that your partner will keep loving you, you pray that he will keep loving Jesus and be willing to follow Him wherever He leads. And you pray that prayer for yourself as well, because you know that as long as you both keep loving Jesus the most, one way or another, everything else will be okay.

I remember when I first thought of marrying my husband and I prayed about it, the verse that God laid on my heart was Psalm 73:25–26: “Whom have I in heaven but you [God]? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Way back then, right from the beginning, the message was that the one my heart needs most is Him.