Marriage is work. Everyone knows this, or at least thinks they know it but before they get married they think all the work will just be fun. The truth is, there is nothing in the world better than a good marriage but it does take hard work. Tom and I have been been married 12 years and I remember that first year laying in bed talking to him about how lucky we are and how no one in the world could possibly be as in love as we are and we had a conversation one night about the "for worse" part of "for better or worse". That first year was truly magical but we recognized that life can smack people in the face hard and we talked about if we could survive the worst. I can't remember exactly how it went but I do seem to recall that we decided it was a stupid and potentially depressing conversation to have and we went on to more fun things.
I wonder what we would have thought 12 years ago if we could have seen the future. Four major moves. Geographical separations. A year of depression for me. Unwanted deployments. An incredibly difficult and rarely fun adjustment to parenting a high-needs child. A year of unemployment. Near financial ruin. Major career change. Both of us working ridiculous hours and our children in daycare in order to keep our heads above water.
Our daughter being diagnosed with cancer.
How would our younger selves have felt about what the next dozen years would bring us? I think we'd be surprised at a few things but mostly scared out of our minds! I think we'd be surprised that we aren't more romantic. I think in some ways we'd want to scoop our present selves up and whisk us back in time to remind us of the fun we had and the absolute bliss of just being in love. I think we'd be a little sad actually if we were just looking at things from the outside. And as far as the circumstances go, I think we would try really hard to change them.
But our younger selves would be wrong on all counts. No, we aren't as romantic and giddy as we were in those early days and many things that have happened were incredibly difficult and even scary to navigate but we have a strength in our marriage and a commitment to one another that offers us so much more.
I'm going home tomorrow and I called Tom tonight and was very honest with him about some difficult feelings I've been having lately. It was a tough conversation at first but we never got mad and despite a little defensiveness at times, we were very respectful. Since Rachael's diagnosis there has definitely been some drifting apart. We haven't argued... we've just not really been on the same page. No one is to blame and I never once doubted that we will be okay, even though the statistics for couples going through what we've been through are frightening I always knew that we would survive. But our marriage has felt "off" to me.
So we talked about it. We talked for the longest we've talked since I left for Houston and once again I am reminded of how lucky I am to have Tom. We may not always get one another but the shared respect and the bond we have is stronger than ever. Our younger selves couldn't have imagined that behind the quietness and the crap is a love that is all the stronger because of it all. I cannot yet say this about cancer but the rest I wouldn't change if given the choice and I'm not sure our younger selves would have understood that. One thing I did recognize early though is that the work of marriage is a privilege and not a burden.
It is an honor to be your wife Tom.
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