Last night while trolling Facebook I couldn’t help but to comment on a status about how a cheap wedding leads to a successful marriage. Being that I can’t help my flippant self I commented about how its not about the wedding but its about the after-party and the honeymoon. Yes, I have a dry sense of humor, much like a fine Bordeaux. I digress. My husband and I just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary and have been together 18 years. We have a secret sauce for our successful marriage; trial by fire with various traumas that require us to come together as a united front. You want to know if a marriage is successful, go from the frying pan to the furnace to see how they handle a crisis.
The Chad and I were a very tumultuous couple when we were initially courting. Fighting over the most trivial issues and concerns. We both have Type-A personalities, Einstein brilliance, and a will that won’t break. Spliced with our youth, we were a recipe for disaster. Aside from that, we love(d) each other unconditionally which prompted us to spend the rest of our lives together. Our marriage for the first years was a lot of fun. We enjoyed a great amount of freedom just the two of us. Traveling, socializing and exploring what new adventure we would take on next. The next big adventure happened to be having kids.
Crisis number one.
By all means our first crisis of having a child is not negative, but as young 20somethings having a child is crisis management because your entire life changes. Late nights having drinks are now late nights of your child taking drinks…of breast milk. Building dreams are now replaced with building dream palaces for your child. Fashion and couture are replaced by burp cloths and onesies. Adjusting to having a child can be hard if you struggle letting go of your old self, which both of us struggled with a bit. We still wanted to be “THAT” couple. We still wanted to be ourselves, but with having a child you have to evolve, which means your marriage does as well.
Crisis number two.
Evolution of self and marriage. Personally, I struggled embracing and juggling all my jobs. Wife. Mother. Woman. Food source. Business woman. Sex kitten. Karie. Suddenly my self was a swirling smorgasbord of uncertainty. I didn’t know how to handle all these people, responsibilities, who came first was my child, but I needed to make sure I was able to care for him. My husband needed attention, but I needed to make sure I had taken care of G which meant I needed to be in tip top shape. An internal argument of Darwinism, which came first the chicken or the egg. I began to get lost in myself and the search for who she was and is. Somewhere in there our marriage started to become disoriented.
In all the disorientation we really complicated matters as I found I was pregnant again. Our son was barely eight months old and now I was pregnant again. The crisis threat level was now about to go supernova, but we were able to bear down. Coming together we grieved the loss of ourselves and that our dream included these extensions of ourselves, extensions of our love, our children, our new world. Just as we were finally comfortable again we were hit with devastating news that our pregnancy was doomed and I would miscarry at home. Not an ordinary miscarriage though, this was a premature delivery with labor pains, pushing in order to counteract the pain, a battle I fought alone through blood, anguish, loss and solitary despair. Yet another crisis, but one I chose to conquer on my own.
Looking back I probably should have included The Chad but I know his heart and I wanted to spare him the horror that I was experiencing. The war I waged through my loss that late night and early morning in my bathroom is not one for any human to experience, ever. I just couldn’t bear to see his pain, our pain, maybe I was selfish but I couldn’t let him have that memory. From that day forward I got lost again. I battled with postpartum depression. Somehow The Chad and I were making it through, maybe by grace.
Crisis hit again as we came to arms with my mental capacity to overcome depression and how the medication nearly destroyed my life, more evolution of selves. We then became that couple as we sought counseling. Barely married six years, late 20something, early 30s, suburbia yuppies seeking counseling. How cliche I thought. So gauche. I ate my thoughts as we discovered so much about ourselves, our marriage, our family in those sessions. We learned to become a united.
Sitting on a couch bleeding your emotions of anger, rage, hurt, sadness, brought forth so much information, elightenment and respect for each other. Though we had to get through the emotional grenades and gun cocking and firing at one another, we saw light, we saw each other. We saw we were people, with faults, with love for each other. The moment of truth came when we went to bed after a session and we said it was time to move on, too much damage was done that we could no longer swim to shore in a sinking ship. Admitting love for each other but that we might be better off without the other for the sake of our child.
Laying under the sheets, looking at each other through clenched jaw muscles and tears, breathing through the pain that felt as if gravity would crush me, I saw lifetimes pass by, almost as if on fast forward. We both took a deep breath and went to sleep, stubborn love saying goodbye.
The next morning we agreed divorce was not on the horizon, we made the commitment to work on our marriage, ourselves; we were finding a way to let the wounds heal and move forward. The path was not easy, the hurt, the pain, almost numbing. No one said this would be easy. We wanted this, we chose this life; love isn’t easy, life isn’t easy. Anything of value does not come easy but through hard work and a great deal of effort. Boundaries were set and agreements were made, compromise, understanding, and we started to listen to each other again instead of placing blame.
Progress was being made. We were at a pivotal point when we found we were pregnant again, pregnant again with twins. Crisis.
This crisis really was an eye opener as we melded as a team. Twins taught us about how two people should and can truly be different, yet so similar. G defined this ideal. For eight months I told him Seth and Sara were “in my tummy.” I understood two people. His understanding was that Seth and Sara was one entity; imagine his surprise when he saw two baby carriers the day we came home. He guffawed as he pointed at each of them and asked why there were two, we had to tell him one was Seth and one was Sara. His innocent outlook about his siblings was the definition of our marriage and how I would raise him and these two blessings. Individually plural.
The Chad and I struggled with various other marital struggles that arise as you age and life lobs softballs of challenges. The single most important fact was that we were the same people, changed by the events and environment of our experiences. Admitting we loved each other and we wanted to make it work, took acknowledging that our marriage, our family was not about us as individuals, but about the other person. Compromise was admitting when you are wrong, no matter how much damage you took to your pride. Communication was about taking out the fault, the finger pointing, having a poignant conversation about facts, proposing solutions that worked for everyone, including the kids, especially the kids, even if that meant looking to divorce.
Our most recent crisis was financial. The timing aligned with the world financial crisis. Like most couples we could have fought endlessly, but we chose to talk. We talked deeply, passionately, about our future, our family like we never had before. Setting aside differences in the goals we had, ideals we learned based on how we were raised. The Chad lost his job and I was barely making enough at the bank to keep us afloat. We were drowning, but we did not fall victim to our misfortune, we banded together, set out a plan. Family came first, the kids were our primary concern and we were making every effort to ensure this would not affect them in the least.
Only by grace were we able to survive. If we had not connected as people and respected each other through adequate communication and compromise we would have probably been divorced years ago. I am ever thankful for each of our crises, decisions, I hold no regrets. The magic sauce for our successful marriage came in the form of hard work, commitment to do what was right, even if doing the right thing meant divorce, and above all else we had love. Today I love The Chad more than the day I married him, I am more in love with him than the day we met. I could not have asked for a better man to partner with in this adventure we call life.