Deacon Derrick: Mistianna and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary; what a milestone! We renewed our vows at the first public Mass our parish held, post-quarantine. Mistianna and I stood before the altar of God, and once again said, “I do.” As I looked into the eyes of my bride, I realized we had both said “I do” every morning for the past 25 years; choosing each other all over again. For me, that was a powerful revelation.
Mistianna: When Derrick and I said “I do” we both expected our marriage to be a fairy tale, happily ever after, perfect! But nothing is perfect; and perfect marriages, are just that, fairy tales. We quickly learned that marriage is messy. When you tie your life with another person, combine your finances, share a joint living space, throw in passion and intimacy, join your faith traditions and add kids and countless daily decisions that impact both your lives, things are going to get complicated. Navigating that messiness requires compromise and a lot of hard work. — that’s how we have been able to stay married for 25 years.
Deacon Derrick: People ask us what our secret is to a successful marriage. Mistianna and I always answer the same, compromise. I know a great marriage requires great compromise because I live it. When I renew my “I do” each morning, I am choosing my marriage instead of myself. When Mistianna and I disagree, we each give up some of what we want so we both can have a little of what we need. There have also been times in our marriage when what Mistianna wanted took priority over what I wanted and vice versa. This meant being willing to compromise for the good of our marriage. My job as Mistianna’s spouse is to help her get into heaven and that means making my “I do” more about the “we” and not the “me.”
Mistianna: Derrick still takes my breath away and gives me goosebumps! I am more in love with him today than I was 25 years ago. There were, however, tough times in our marriage when we both threw up our hands not knowing how to go on, ask us about our argument over the vacuum cleaner, sometime.
Even when things got really heated, tempers flared and neither one of us could stand the other, we decided “NOT to decide.” That meant agreeing not to make a rash decision on the future of our marriage until we each had time to cool off, and listen to the other’s opinion. Sometimes that meant taking 24 hours to cool off, going to bed angry and revisiting the issue in the morning.
Living out my “I do” during turbulent and trying times meant not reacting in the heat of the moment and making a choice I would later regret. Praise God Derrick did the same and we stayed married.
Deacon Derrick: In the fourth chapter of Ecclesiastes we learn that a three ply cord is not easily broken. This means that Mistianna and I have a partner in our marriage and that is God. Even though Mistianna and I are strong, resilient people, we still need God to hold us together when life and even each other threaten to pull us apart.
After 25 years together I have learned that when life rubs up against our marriage, we are not strong enough to endure it together, unscathed. It is only by relying on God that our messy marriage can become sacred; and that means daily inviting God into living out our “I do”.
Deacon Derrick and Mistianna Barnes regularly write about marriage — from their dual perspectives — in the Archdiocese of Louisville’s “Love Being Married” newsletter. Deacon Barnes is assigned to St. Margaret Mary Church.