Thirty-two years ago I took Tamara Ann Schroer to be my wife. Everything in my life changed that day, but not in the "rainbows and sunshine" kind of way like you might expect. Tami and I made many promises to God and each other that day, but the truth is that we really had no idea how much of a BIG DEAL those promises were — until now.

On the day we married (April 20th, 1985), I knew that being with Tami made me very happy and I wanted as much of that happiness as I could possibly fit into my life. Getting married seemed like the best way to take that next step, and so we did. The first 5 years of marriage brought an overwhelming amount of rainbows and sunshine as we became better friends and learned how to share our lives together. We spent quality time together, did life with other married friends, enjoyed weekend getaways, and more. It was a very fun and happy season as we invested time and energy into our relationship.

But I digress, life is not made solely of rainbows, and rainy days will drown out the sunshine at some point. After this first five years, there were so many things in life that started to erode our sunshine that it's hard to know just when the sun began to disappear for us. There were lots of commitments, mostly financial, that kept us grinding away at our jobs. These financial commitments also drove us to try to improve our financial situation by working toward that next promotion or staying late at work to ensure that next monthly bonus. These pursuits are not bad things, mind you, but there is a tradeoff. There is a cost. For us the cost was stress, much less time to invest into our marriage, and more stress.

When I think of our family and friends who have gotten divorced over the years (and there are lots of them), I don't remember their divorces to judge them or to think myself better for never getting divorced. The truth is that I understand them quite well because I have felt defeated too. I have felt like we were in a dark place and I was not sure how we would make it back to the sunshine — but, miraculously, I never gave up hope that we could and neither did Tami.

Tami and I have always had a kind of reverence and respect for the vows we took that day that is quite difficult to fully explain. But this reverence is still present to this day. You see, it is not that our marriage vows kept us chained to each other when we wanted otherwise, it is that our marriage vows gave us hope and perspective. Our marriage vows represented an important commitment during the times when we didn't feel committed. We had seen some other couples who were pulling this off in the face of the challenges. Could we? In other words, if other couples could be married 40, 50, or even 75 years, why not us?

Wedding vows are the promise of permanence in marriage. That promise, adequately respected, is what makes the difference.
And we are accomplishing this because today is another milestone on that journey of permanence. This anniversary marks both the sacrifices we made to have a better marriage and the incredible blessings that come with not giving up on something so important. You see, we are bucking the system. We are breaking a trend in our 2 families. This trend of divorce has resulted in 13 divorces, quite a few kids who don't live with or don't see their biological parents, and so many other complications that I cannot begin to quantify them.

Tami and I are married today not because we are amazing and courageous. We are married because we were afraid. We were afraid to give up. We were afraid to be responsible for what a divorce would bring to our daughters for the rest of their lives. Afraid to be a negative statistic. And afraid that a divorce would not solve the problem we thought it would leaving us unhappier still.

We could (and probably should) write a book on the things that should have torn us apart, but didn't. So we are here, still together after 32 years of marriage, and happier and more content than we have ever been. And if we can do it, you can do it too!

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By Brad & Tami Miller. Contact us at Copyright © 2017