Twenty years ago this May, I married the love of my life. Twenty years. It doesn’t even make sense. Just yesterday, I was on one knee in a jewelry store outside Archer City, Texas, asking Jo to marry me. Just yesterday, she told me she was pregnant for the first time. Just yesterday, we walked into a run-down house we could barely afford, but it didn’t matter because it was ours and we were going to make it the best home in the world. All the old folks in our lives warned us that these years with young kids and big dreams would go by fast. That one day we’d look back and wonder where the time went. They were right.
All of a sudden, I look around and have to catch myself. The kids are growing up and moving off, and Magnolia has turned into something bigger than we ever could've imagined. In those 20 years, our world changed. But the one thing that didn't was the promise Jo and I made to one another at the altar in front of our family and friends. They asked if we'd stick it out through thick and thin. We said yes, and we meant it. We still do.
Marriage is interesting that way. Whatever I go through, Jo goes through. And whatever she goes through, I go through. Life has done us plenty of favors and showed us things we've been beyond blessed to see. We've also had some hard times—some the world knows about, and plenty it doesn't. Like anyone else, we've been sick and sad and hurt and lost and flat out of ideas on how to turn things around. We've had to fight like hell for our family and learn to hold loosely what we can't control. But we did all that together. The two of us.
Usually, I’m the full-speed-ahead type. I’ve never worried much about what we’ve had to leave behind, but hitting the 20-year mark has me looking back a little more than I normally do. It certainly hasn’t been a perfect story or an easy path. Instead, I’d say the story of our lives is more like Crew scribbled a crayon across the page. But every curveball, every pivot, every upside-down moment is what taught us how to hold on to each other for dear life. Without them, we wouldn’t have us.
"...every curveball, every pivot, every upside-down moment is what taught us how to hold on to each other for dear life."
— Chip Gaines
Jo’s been focused on what it means to savor life. To savor the moments that, too often, we let slip away without a second thought. That word has taken root in my heart as well, but I’m finding that the moments I’ve savored the most over these past 20 years have also been the hardest ones. I don’t want to let those times get away from me. I treasure those memories of hardship and struggle. I treasure all the days our heads hit the pillow weary and worn-out from growing our family and our business. Because those are the moments when we leaned on each other the most. I think that’s the formative part. The strength that’s sown when you’re building together.
I’ve started to understand that hard times can go one of two ways. They can either break you apart, or they can bond you together. I think the key is to decide which one it’s going to be long before it makes the choice for you.
Twenty years are behind us now. Those chapters have already been written, and we’ve lived a storied life. We might’ve wished back then for calmer seas and slower days when we were in the thick of parenting small kids and growing a business alongside them, but now I wouldn’t wish any of it away. I’m so thankful to God for giving us exactly what we’ve had, and for what I know we still have ahead: plenty to build—hand-in-hand.
Love you, Jo. Happy 20 years.