Love is patient, love is kind, and what our love express is true. No amount of tragedy can tear, or break the love I have for you. – Jessica Wheaton
The bond between husband and wife can be one of the most beautiful things. Finding a best friend and loyal companion, someone that completes you is the ultimate gift.
Putting all selfishness aside, when you make that leap of faith, joining hearts by uniting differences, strengths and weakness, you balance each other out, creating a thriving vessel for flourishing love.
Sounds amazing right? And let’s not forget, marriage always puts a smile on our face and its all smooth sailing from the moment we say “I do.”
Well, not exactly. Let’s talk about what they don’t tell you.
Recently, my husband and I celebrated 13 years of marriage. Looking back, this journey has not been smooth a paved freeway, but more of an old dirt road filled with giant boulders.
To be honest, it hasn’t all been great. It wasn’t the soft bed of roses or perpetual jubilation of pure wedded bliss like some would hope for. Matter of fact, it’s been an uphill battle for most of it.
‘Happily Ever After’ is Fiction, ‘Real Love’ is What You Need
We did have an amazing start, the textbook example of young and in love. Our daughter Lydia was born, a beautiful wedding and two years later we welcomed a baby boy into the world. We had the perfect careers and beautiful family. What more could we want?
Settled in our comfortable lifestyle, our commitment to each other was tested well beyond our capabilities on July 16, 2008.
We were married only four years when the morning commute turned into a tragic accident that took the life of our precious daughter. How we continued on for those early months and years, it’s hard to say.
It’s no secret that together we have suffered greatly individually, as has our marriage. I hate to admit that since my daughter died, I have put marriage on the back burner.
I became a stranger to myself overnight, unable to love myself or my husband. Bearing a shattered heart, every ounce of my being poured out and my soul remained hollow for a long time. It became a daily battle to confront that unfamiliar and wretched person I saw in the mirror.
As a result, along with Lydia’s death regrettably came the death of my marriage. Sad, I know but true.
For years I suffered the excruciating trauma of the accident and I never wore my wedding ring again. Weird? To some, it was odd and inexcusable. Yet for me, it represented a terrible day I wanted to forget.
No one understood. I felt so alone. I was ridiculed and criticized for not displaying that white gold diamond ring, not understanding what all the fuss was about.
However, what I did know was that others didn’t comprehend that my wedding ring now signified horror and heartbreak, as I was wearing it the morning of the accident. To me, it embodied all that I had lost and provided vivid flashbacks of that tragic day. I just couldn’t do it.
“Well, you’re still married,” they would say.
“You should be wearing your ring.”
“You’re being ridiculous.”
And the hurtful comments kept attacking me from those closest to me. Despite their opinions, I fought back the tears and reminded myself, they just didn’t get it.
Most don’t know that on the top shelf of my closet, placed in a white hospital “belongings” bag covered in a layer of dust, is home to my black work boots and tactical pants I was wearing that day and it hasn’t been opened since.
They don’t the nurses had to cut off the white blood stained shirt I was wearing so they could tend to my agonizing wounds. My wedding ring was taken off my swollen fingers that day and I would not wear it again.
Of course, I knew I was married, yet persevered the only way I knew how.
One day at a time, I remained in auto pilot and co-existed.
My children became my biggest love. I loved them with everything I had, which left a bleak portion for my marriage. I neglected my husband, leaving him to fend for himself.
I was unintentionally focused on putting my own needs first even though I really had no idea what I needed but knew there wasn’t enough of me to go around.
Of course, there were times I wanted to give up and in my heart I had. There were those days filled with anger and disgust, longing to be rid of any responsibility and a desperate urge to relive my independence.
But these were issues inside of me. When you’re enduring life’s greatest storm, you feel like you’re never going to find that person you used to be. The confident and courageous girl filled with spontaneity and joy-she was gone and I didn’t know how to find her.
Yet I didn’t give up. I had no other choice but to fall to my knees praying to survive each day, praying for myself, my husband and for our family to be able to endure this devastating tragedy.
Admittedly, I’ve heard my husband sobbing, observed his tears and was unable to express myself and concerns to him. I was void of words. My heart wasn’t hardened it was just empty.
I’ve taken him for granted and nurtured my self-doubt and loneliness, creating a wall of isolation while wallowing in a pit of darkness. Did I feel bad? Absolutely.
Together we’ve experienced unfathomable grief, lashed out in anger and battled the evil that kept us tight in bondage. However, as the years passed, there came a point where I realized I was made for more, and I was not going to continue to let sadness have control over me.
All I needed was time. Time to gather myself and to understand the great gift of life and marriage. Thankfully, my faith kept me from derailing off the tracks, filling me with hope and encouragement.
Little by little, I was reminded of all the blessings I had in my life. Gratitude became my friend which fueled my confidence and optimism.
In the back of my mind, I could never forget those vows we said before our family and friends. “In sickness and in health, in good times and bad, for richer or poorer, all the days of our lives,” and so on.
A few weeks ago while I was washing my hands, I glanced over at my ring as it lay in the glass heart shaped bowl. And I felt it. It was time.
Nervously, I reached over grabbed my ring and placed it on my finger.
Instantly, it comfortable and fit perfectly. Peace filled my heart making me wondered why I had waited so long to put it back on. Yet I knew.
It was different now. It didn’t symbolize trauma and heartbreak, but the gift of marriage. A lifelong partner to love and to cherish. An ally and friend.
My marriage represents 13 years of love, heartache, laughs, friendship, and hope.
When we signed up for this commitment, we didn’t sign up for “until I want out,” or “when I’ve had enough,” or “until life gets unbearable.”
We endured. We didn’t give up.
We all go through turbulent seasons and fierce storms in life that seek to strip us of all optimism. However, I’ve learned that our circumstances don’t need to define us or hold us hostage.
And although I don’t know what the future will bring, I know we persevere through those times filled with endless doubt and pain, clenching to those words of faith and believing that life will get better.
In the meantime, I remain grateful for that critical reminder that hangs in my bedroom, “forever and always, no matter what.”