In anniversary lessons learned marriage

Five Year Anniversary

Transparency is important to me on this blog. If I'm going to write, I need to be able to do so honestly, which is why this blog has seen my reactions to some of the most challenging moments in my life.

I've used this avenue to share the loss of my babies and remember them, to share my struggles with depression, and to write very honestly about my life. On this blog, I don't pretend to be someone I'm not, and so this anniversary, I need to be honest.

In October 2015, when we moved away from Kentucky, we were very seriously considering separation. I was overwhelmed and felt as though I didn't have a husband, I had an additional responsibility while I did it all. Those feelings of resentment and anger drove a deep wedge into our relationship.

I sought counsel in trusted friends and in our pastors, and after moving away from home, we began weekly marriage counseling.

It was hard. There were many, many moments of thinking it would be easier for all of us for me to leave. There were many tears, many hurtful words, and a lot of moments spent wondering why we got married to begin with.

Change came very slowly, almost painfully. We each had to reflect on our own issues, and even once the changes started to come about, then came the challenge of finding out if there were feelings left for each other underneath the rubble of the last year.

There were. Nathan had not faltered in telling me that he loved me, he loved me even when he hated me. And as we worked together, I found the feelings that brought us together to begin with. I loved him, and as we celebrate five years of marriage, I wanted to share some of the lessons I've learned.

1.) Use Perspective in Arguments.

We were hit with a game changing perspective earlier this year. Nathan has Primary Scholarosing Cholangitis, which means that eventually his liver will fail. Right now, he's having no symptoms and is unaffected, but the reality of this disease is that it will end with him needing a liver transplant. As morbid as it may be, I sometimes need to remind myself that my time with him is limited, and if in 20 years in the hospital I'm not going to care about the clothes that have yet again not made it to the hamper, then it's worth mentioning, but not worth a fight.

2.) Have Friends to Tell the Good (not just the bad).

I've always had two people that I call when things went wrong. When I was frustrated, or when we fought, or when I felt disrespected and unappreciated. Two people knew the details of my struggles in marriage. But when it finally started, a little bit at a time, to improve, I had to remember to tell my friends when things were going well. I had to make an effort to praise him to my friends, and after months of sharing nothing but negative details, they were still my cheerleaders. I needed their encouragement to persevere, and I know the outcome would have been starkly different without the friends that supported me in marriage counseling.

3,) Communicate

I had to learn that saying I was mad he didn't unload the dishwasher wasn't saying what the issue really was. To him, unloading the dishwasher is a tiny thing, and not anything to have such a fight about. But what I was really saying was that not doing what I asked was feeling like disrespect to me. It wasn't solely about the dishes, it was about me feeling that what I said and asked for wasn't being heard or treated with any importance. I had to explain that to him, I had to communicate and explain why the dishwasher isn't really the dishwasher. There were several little things like this, where it was simply miscommunication.

4.) Remember your Connections

Nathan and I bonded over a love of musicals and theater, over fandoms like Harry Potter, over a strong yearning to travel. Remembering that as we went to see Phantom of the Opera for the second time, and Finding Neverland for the first, brought back a lot of those feelings that showed up in the early nights of watching Finding Nemo in my dorm before our first kiss. I remembered that when I experience a new city, I want him to be beside me exploring it too. I need him in my life to be able to quote from Disney, Harry Potter, and Gilmore Girls and have him understand me. I love that he gets me, that my dancing around the kitchen to the soundtrack from Moana is endearing to him.

5.) Be in Love

I've noticed before that I have about an equal number of divorced friends and married friends. I have friends on their second marriage, or third relationship post-divorce. I hear the stories about how after years, he cheated, or she just left, so don't think it's going to be forever. Be prepared to be on your own.
But that doesn’t help. Spending each day thinking about how the debts and vehicles would get split up and what custody would look like doesn't allow you to be in love with the person you'd be sharing custody with. While in the back of my mind, I have preparations, I have to focus on being with Nathan. I have to focus on him holding my hand when we drive to dinner, on imagining us being middle aged exploring Cairo, and thinking about the future.

Five years of marriage, and seven total years together. On the 5th wedding anniversary we're officially no longer considered newlyweds, and I'd have to agree. I'm a lucky woman to be loved by a man who has never faltered in his love for me, who kept fighting when the easiest option would have been to simply quit, and who I have shared and will continue to have so many adventures with. Nathan has supported me in grief and financial hardship, he has loved me when I felt utterly unlovable in depression. He is my other half, and I look forward to what our next five years will hold.

Happy Anniversary my love

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