My Biggest Fear 17 Years Into Marriage


I was a gregarious gal.

I really was.

When we first met at my husband’s fraternity house in August 1994, I remember thinking he was the most handsome guy I’d ever met in my life. I’m not kidding. I remember it vividly.

My roommate and I were college freshmen. It was our first week at school. Classes hadn’t started yet and we had nothing to do. So we decided to walk fraternity row. Both small town girls, we browsed the place like it was a candy shop. House after house, delight after delight lined the long campus.

We were just taking a walk.

My husband likes to debate that fact. He claims we were trolling for guys.

I’ve always denied the trolling. But perhaps it was true just a little bit?

After all, our first meeting by the sand volleyball court outside Delta Tau Delta that day marked the beginning of a 2 1/2 year period of the most extreme extroversion I’ve experienced in my entire life.

I studied hard those years. Enough to land a 3.92 GPA in the end.

But I also lived wild and free.







I drank beer. Lots of it.

I stayed up late. Really late.

I hung with my boyfriend (now husband) and his brothers at the fraternity house ALL THE TIME. So much so that four gregarious girlfriends and I were unofficially coined “Delt Girls.” So much so that I was officially named the fraternity’s “Sweetheart” two years in.





I socialized like a maniac, danced like a mad woman, took plenty of jello shots, dressed in the most ridiculous party costumes, and did things my children don’t ever need to do.

Yes, I was unstoppable.

And that was just the fun, partying, social side of me. I’m pretty sure I was a go-getter all the way around those first 2 1/2 years of college.

I was on my way to a big, bold life. Nobody could stop me. Everything was grand. I was wild and free, smart and vivacious, witty and kind. I was the girl everyone could love. The girl people could laugh at and laugh with. Words flowed free in dorm rooms, cafeterias, classrooms, libraries, fraternity houses, dances, and hockey games. I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t doubtful. I had a handful of really close friends, a lot of good friends and a TON of great acquaintances. Guys and gals liked me, and I’m 99% confident that most people (including myself) would have described me as “fun.”


I liked my new vibrant self. She was good. She was free. She was living more boldly than ever before. She was going places, that’s for sure. Yes, there was never a doubt, never a dull moment. She was going to graduate, go to grad school, get a great job as a speech therapist and live a marvelous life. She was going to be a professional, and a respected one at that. She was going to be a mom, and a good one at that. She was going to be a church-goer, too, and a faithful one at that. She was going to be wife, and an awesome one at that.

Yes, that was me the first 2 1/2 years of college. That was me the first 1 1/2 years I dated my husband. That was me most days leading up to our engagement.

But this story’s about to turn serious.

Nearly 21 years have passed since we first met at my husband’s fraternity house.

More than 20 years have passed since we started dating.

18 1/2 years have passed since we got engaged.

And today marks our 17th wedding anniversary. Congrats, babes. I love you so much. The story God is writing through our marriage is important, noteworthy, blessed and delightful. I am honored to call you husband and do life together, easier days and hard days alike. For better, for worse.




But 17 years into marriage, there’s one fear, one insecurity that’s plagued me this year more than any other.

I fear I’m not the extroverted woman my husband dated.

I fear I’m not the gregarious woman my husband became engaged to.

I fear that the woman my husband chose to propose to is NOT AT ALL the woman he’s married to 17 years later.

And as hard as it is to admit this…

I fear he’d marry “that girl” all over again, but wouldn’t necessarily marry “this girl” all over again.



The truth is, I was the MOST extroverted I’ve ever been in my entire life when we were dating. That extroversion was limited to a short window, a short burst of time. If I look over the course of my life, I know for a fact that my extreme extroversion during our dating years was an anomaly, really. And that fact scares me sometimes.

I am NOT the same woman my husband proposed to 18 1/2 years ago. I am not the same woman my husband married 17 years ago.

I’m back to my fully introverted self now.

I don’t drink beer. At all. In fact, I hate it.

I don’t party with the boys. Ever. (Although I still think men are way more chill than women.)

I don’t dance like a mad woman and I don’t do jello shots except the one time my sweet neighbor forced me to on a hot play day in her front yard. I don’t stay up really late unless I’m blogging, I’m not a social maniac at all, and I’d never use the word “fun” to describe myself anymore.

I’ve chosen to step out of the professional, American dream grind and am staying home when his preference would be for me to work full-time. I’m not nearly as confident in my mothering abilities as I would have guessed myself to be back when we were dating, and I’d much rather go to Haiti or Africa than Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

I’m a wolf. INFJ.

He’s a dolphin. ENFP.

We’re married. 17 years today.

But our personality types are night and day.

Did my husband, a dolphin, know he was marrying a wolf 17 years ago? Or did my extremely extroverted dating behavior lead him to believe he was marrying a dolphin?

Okay. I know this is getting a little out there for some of you. (Yes, real live people have assigned animals to each of the 16 Meyers-Briggs personality types so I’m not making this stuff up.) But hear me out.

17 years in, I’m starting to believe that real life CHANGE is quite possibly the greatest threat to marriage.

What happens when our spouse changes?

What happens when we change?

What happens when we barely resemble the people who stood on the altar and said “I do?”

What then?

Do we give up on marriage?

Do we trash it?

Ditch it?

Give up?

Give in?

Say forget about this, I’m out, this isn’t working anymore, let’s get a divorce?

How do we respond to change in marriage?

What happens when your spouse gains 20 pounds, 30 pounds, 40 pounds, 150 pounds?

What happens when your spouse loses 30 pounds, is suddenly obsessed with their weight and you aren’t so much at all?

What happens when kids rock your world?

What happens when you can’t get pregnant like you thought you could?

What happens when the adoption falls through? Or when she wants to do foster care and you don’t?

What happens when your spouse starts working long, late nights to get that promotion and you’re home alone with the kids day after day after day?

What happens when you have an empty nest?

What happens when one of you goes back to school?

What happens when you have significant financial setbacks?

What happens when your spouse makes a major career change?

What happens when one of you wants to lounge around in retirement and the other wants to volunteer, travel, work, and be with the grandkids all the time?

What happens when your spouse grows lots of nose hairs and chin hairs?

What happens when your spouse goes bald?

What happens when your spouse lies in bed all day depressed and withdrawn?

What happens when your kids go off the rails?

What happens when one of your children has a disability?

What happens when one of your children passes away?

What happens when your spouse’s faith is solid and yours has fizzled?

What happens when your spouse receives a cancer diagnosis?

What happens when your spouse is debilitated by dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinsons?

What happens when your spouse is confined to a wheelchair?

What happens when your spouse requires oxygen tanks to survive?

What happens when your spouse needs help going to the bathroom?

How will you respond? How will we respond?

Change in marriage is inevitable.

What makes or breaks our marriages is how we respond to change.

If you’re married long enough, there will come a time when you’ll realize you are NOT the same person you were when you got married. We are humans. We change. We evolve. We grow and develop over time. We become more of who we really are.


As I’ve been working through this fear, this fear that I’m not the same woman my husband married 17 years ago, this fear that he’d marry “that girl” but not “this girl,” I’ve decided that marriage requires an equal parts accepting, surrendering, fighting, trusting and believing.

Accept that you have changed.

Accept that your spouse has changed.

Surrender to your current reality.

Surrender to the ebb and flow.

Fight for your marriage. Fight to the ends of the earth. Until you can fight no more.

Trust it’s the right thing to do.

Believe you are worthy.

Believe your spouse is worthy.

Believe God brought you together for a reason.

Believe God has a plan for your marriage.

Believe you can make it.

Believe marriage is worth it.

Believe he’d marry you all over again.

Believe she’d marry you all over again.

Believe that “this girl” is just as lovely and beautiful, treasured and true as “that girl.”

Believe that “this guy” is just as handsome and witty, sporty and smart as “that guy.”

Believe you can do this.

Believe you are loved.

Believe that change is not only real, but okay.

Believe that long-lasting love is forged through change, challenges and the hardest stuff life has to offer.

Believe in 40th, 50th, and 60th wedding anniversaries.

Believe in wrinkly hand holding.

In the car ride on the way home from church, he played her “Good Stuff,” his favorite B52s song from days gone by. Days prior, she’d played him “Through All of It,” her favorite new song on Christian radio, the song she can’t stop listening to, the song that resonates with her soul most right now.

A dolphin song. A wolf song.

Somewhere along the way, they met in the middle with a frog and pig song. The Rainbow Connection resonated with both.

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. A frog and a pig.

Seth and Amy. A dolphin and a wolf.

Who knew.

They live. They laugh. They fight. They change. They come together, still. They come together, again. Time and time again. For love. Sweet love. 



  1. Rochelle Wells Brown says:

    A radio program on Moody (Truth for Life) has had an excellent sermon series you would enjoy. It’s by Alistair Begg and it’s called “We Two Are One”. It’s a 12 part sermon that’s actually broken into several 2 & 4 part sermons. All speak toward marriage – our commitment, changes that come in marriage, protecting your marriage, and so on. I’ve listened to the podcasts and they have been excellent!!

    Congrats on the 17 years 🙂

  2. Carol Femling says:

    Oops!!! I mean HAPPY!!!

  3. Carol Femling says:

    This is GOOD, no exceptionally GREAT!! Your dad and I think it’s one of your BEST!! You’ve got marriage covered by every angle. Thank you for being so real! Many more Hsppy Happy years to you and Seth!!! Love you!! ❤️

  4. Kathy Fick says:

    Thanks, Amy! And Happy Anniversary to you and Seth. Keep on singing the songs of your hearts.

  5. Kelly Jo Zellmann says:

    Beautiful and insightful Amy! Happy Anniversary to you and Seth! You are right on about “how we make or break marriage is how we respond to change.” May you continue to blessed on your journey together!

  6. Cathie 'Hardy' Pearson says:

    Incredible post, Amy! Inspirational! Seth is a blessed man to have you and I’m sure he would marry you all over again!!

  7. Seth Pederson says:

    Beautiful post, babe…. Except that I’m the pig in your frog/pig metaphor. 😉

  8. Tara Dorn says:

    Wow! Just wow! So incredibly insightful and beautiful! I think you expressed what many of us have thought but could never put into words so eloquently.

  9. Penny Becker says:

    This is HEARTFELT BEAUTIFUL! And I am awaiting your hubby’s view as well as saving this for our 44th anniversary in 2 months!

  10. Gretchen Wendt O'Donnell says:

    You know you need to give us Seth’s opinion on this, right?!! This is a great post, Amy. God is good through all the changes…

  11. Tom Baunsgard says:

    Excellent post Amy! Faith Hope and Love… and the greatest of these IS love! Blessings Abound!

  12. Raquel says:

    Amy!! This post is awesome! It has made me really think about my own life and how I’ve changed too or did I just change for those few years and am back to the regular me?!
    Great things to ponder!
    Thanks for being so open.

    • Amy says:

      You’re welcome, Raquel. And thank you for your kind words! Glad the post resonated with you and made you reflect on your own life and marriage.

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