[The views expressed in this post are my opinion]
In just a couple of weeks my husband and I will be celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary. We will embark on a once in a lifetime trip and my social media feed will be full of romantic, happy, loving photos! But it has taken much work to get here – and it still takes work to be here in this marriage together.
There are more times than I can count in which I thought this accomplishment was impossible. With love and commitment, comes the hardest work you’ll ever do. It’s grueling, it’s endless, it’s complicated, and it’s all wrapped up in this thing we call love.
5 days shy of my 21st birthday I found myself engaged & at 23 I said “I do”. Looking back, I think about how CRAZY it all was. As a parent now, I can only imagine what my own parents were thinking! BUT the love was so strong, I just knew it was right. This man was my future, my family, my person to grow old with.
We didn’t know this, but our marriage would be tested immediately. We were happily pregnant after a year of marriage only to find out our first child was to be born with a rare condition with heart malformations. We prepared for the worst and we endured the worst when we lost our baby boy at the age of 2 months old.
We were lucky in that our pain, loss, and suffering brought us closer together instead of ripping us apart. We worked with a grief counselor to help us get through such a difficult time and that soon transformed into marriage counseling. We loved each other immensely, but we were not immune to normal marriage problems, and then some. We fought, bickered, held grudges, judged one another, competed with one another, and with words we hurt one another – sometimes badly. We sometimes still do. We are constantly working and repairing, loving and apologizing, soothing and consoling, forgiving.
Marriage has been more work than I could have imagined, and there’s no end in sight to that work since we are in this for the long haul. I don’t believe I would have made different choices, but I wish someone had told me the level of work required in marriage. I wish someone had told me that in year 4 you may want to give up, in year 7 you may lose sight of your love, and in year 9 you may be clinging on for dear life. I wish someone had told me that these feelings are ok, normal, and that they are feelings telling you there is more work to do.
At 21 I surprisingly felt prepared for marriage. We had talked about children, we had talked about our expectations of married life, our hopes/dreams, our own shortcomings and faults, and more. I didn’t know that someday as life became more complicated, as our family grew, that the simple act of communication would not be so simple. I didn’t know that I would start to feel unheard, misunderstood, and sometimes unloved. I didn’t know that I would make my husband feel these same things. I was not ready or prepared for the battles that started and the resentment that grew. All the while still in love with the man I chose to marry, and who in turn chose to marry me.
It’s a maddening place to be when your mind and heart disagree with one another. In our toughest of times my mind pulled to the negative – I was angry, hurt, ready to walk away from everything. And yet my heart never could follow – NEVER. Even when I willed it to, it would not let me. I truly know the meaning now of “the heart wants what it wants”.
We are coming on 10 years and it has been full of love and joy, and full of challenges and pain. I have shared on social media many happy times our family has had, and displays of our loving marriage (these have been real and true). BUT it’s hard to photograph a bickering fight, it’s hard to photograph feeling powerless or disregarded, it’s hard to photograph a search for moving companies when you’re moments from walking out the door… & it’s even harder to share that with family, friends, & the world…In the spirit of transparency, I’m laying these truths out here and now.
So how did my husband and I get here, about to celebrate a decade of marriage? What has truly kept both of us from throwing in the towel in some of the darkest of times?
With the help of marriage counseling and the fact that our hearts have not seemed to fail us yet, we appear to be holding steady in our marriage. The ground is shaky at times, but with persistence, hope, faith, and communication we continue to work to keep our marriage strong. We call on each other to remember the love we have, and the love we fight so hard to protect. It’s not a perfect love, but who has that anyways? All I know, is that it is still a love we both feel is worth fighting for and worth putting in the work for.
So if you are new to marriage, thinking of getting married, engaged, or having a tough time in your marriage I’m going to reiterate what I wish someone had told me, & I mean really TOLD me:
IT WILL BE WORK. IT WILL BE THE HARDEST WORK YOU DO. IT WILL BE GRUELING. IT WILL BE ENDLESS. IT WILL BE COMPLICATED. IT WILL BE LOVE.
I wouldn't change for a second the walk down the aisle I made almost 10 years ago, but I do wish I had been better prepared to handle the workload!
*I also highly recommend marriage counseling – not just for marriages going through tough times, but for any marriage. It’s like healthcare, better to get checkups and take preventive measures before developing a disease so advanced it’s difficult to treat/fight.
*Affiliated links are included in this post for which I receive compensation for from any sales.