I got married six days after my 20th birthday. I used to have a very skewed vision of marriage; that a "good marriage" looks like magazine-image perfection. If a marriage looks like anything other than perfect smiles and happy days, that there's something wrong with it.

I learned very quickly that marriage is hard work. But it's so worth it. It has not been all sunshine and roses, to say the least. But even on my worst day, I'm still so happy that I'm married. I have many reasons why I'm thankful for my imperfect marriage, but here are some of my favorites.

I have a voice of reason

"Let's repaint the WHOLE HOUSE! TODAY!" He just looks at me. He's heard some sweeping, crazy declaration of productivity from me before. But after all this time, he knows better than to say anything other than "how about we all go for a hike instead?" He wins. Every time.

I have someone to balance me out

"We really need to keep an eye on our spending this week! Last week we exceeded our grocery budget by $.15! Oh hey, Valentine's day is this weekend ... I want the 6 carat platinum ring from Tiffany's ... But that $.15 is haunting me!" He knows that I really want him to get me something for Valentine's day, but I also want him to remember how much I love saving money. He knows very well that when I calm down about that $.15, I'll want something realistic. And (usually) he knows what to get.

I have a friend

The first time we hung out together, we spent almost 9 straight hours talking. Since then, maintaining a friendship has been so important (and sometimes overlooked) for us. When we're able to be friends, we can function much better.

I have a lover

I don't think I need to get into this one a whole lot, but physical love IS an important part of marriage. And that's all I'll say about that.

I have a partner

We're in this together. The crazy life that we've made for ourselves. Better or worse, richer or poorer. We're both in it together.

I have a helper

When the baby is crying and the big kids are yelling about being hungry for the 80th time before 11 a.m., it's good to have an extra set of hands. Yes, my husband is their parent too. But 99.999 percent of the time, they come to mom with their problems. We have efficiently stood together to face problems and we've divided and conquered for the same problems. Whether it's "the house is a mess and we're having guests" or "I have doctor's appointments and the grocery shopping needs to get done all in the same one hour time slot," we've become very proficient in playing to our strengths.

I have a shoulder to cry on

I'm not the crying type. But sometimes the best medicine is a good cry. And when I need someone to cry on, my husband is there. And usually he offers me chocolate after (pluses of marrying a guy with 5 sisters).

I have a shoulder to lean on

We've been through some really tough times. Even personally, I've been through some very difficult trials. But nothing, to me, exemplifies having someone to lean on quite like my home birth. Both physically and emotionally, my husband was there to support me.

I have someone who doesn't judge me

Since we first met, I gained 60 pounds in my first pregnancy, couldn't seem to get rid of the last 20 pounds of it, started to lose it, then promptly got pregnant again, and again. I'm hardly the girl I was from college, but he still loves me. I forgot to take off my mascara from the night before and he didn't tell me about my raccoon eyes because he still thought I was beautiful. I could stay in my PJs all day and he wouldn't bat an eye. Never once has he spoken unkindly about me. And, as someone with severely damaged self esteem, I'm so thankful for that.

I have someone who chose to come with me every step of the way in life

He knows my struggles, my fears, my triumphs, my hopes, my dreams, and my mishaps (like every time I cook bacon, I almost burn the house down). He knows my whole story. And I know his.

Genesis 2:24 - "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

We share this crazy life that we made together, and only we know the story of how we got here. The fights, the love, the tears, the laughs ... every step that we take in this marriage, we take it together.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on Cow Country Housewife. It has been modified and republished here with permission.

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