I (Still) Choose You

Today is my 16th wedding anniversary.  It's been lovely, fun, silly, beautiful, crazy, scary, hellish, exhausting, and awesome.  We have gone on three cruises and been to Disney World, New York City (me), San Francisco (Phil), Mexico, Canada, and Alaska.  We have attended family events in Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia.  We travel well together.

We suffered the loss of five grandparents and Phil's mentor.  We became an aunt and uncle to five wonderful nieces and nephews.  We survived three moves; law school; infertility and four rounds of IVF; difficult pregnancies; miscarriage; having children; discovering our children have CHDs; seven surgeries and five heart caths in just three-and-a-half years for said children; the death of one child; and the chronic disease and ever-present specter of death with the other; all while living in a fishbowl as a pastor's family.

Looking back at just the last eight years, it's no wonder we're suffering depression and anxiety.  We have been living in survival mode.  Even if we have a moment to discover what our needs and whether they are being met, we keep our mouth shut so as not to disturb the delicate balance that gets us through the day.  There have been times recently when we weren't sure we were going to make it.  Even now, there are no guarantees.  We just keep taking things one day at a time and checking in with each other.  But, it's been worth it.

We share a love of stories--books, televisions shows, movies.  We are movie buddies.  We've seen Avengers, Sherlock Holmes, Star Wars I-III, Love Actually, Despicable Me, and countless other movies together in the theater.  We have begun taking Mira to the movies and get to share those experiences.  We have attended GenCon and share our love of board, video, computer, and roleplaying games.  We have our own language.  We will hear something that will trigger the same wrongity-wrong answers in our head at the same time.  We can say a single word and the other person knows exactly what we are talking about.  We have invested lots of time and energy and love in each other and, honestly, neither of us wants to break another person in.

We get to go out for our anniversary this year.  It's quite an exciting prospect given how other anniversaries have been spent.  Our first anniversary, Phil let me fly home by myself to attend my grandfather's funeral.  Our second anniversary, Phil was in the hospital with a dear friend and church member who was having surgery.  Last year, I was in the PICU with Patrick as they readied him for his G-tube surgery.  Four years ago, we were in the process of discovering Mira's CHD.  That's not to say we never get to go out.  Two years ago, when I was pregnant with Patrick, we got to see Carol Burnett live.  Five years ago, Phil officiated a wedding on our anniversary.  This year, we're eating at our favorite restaurant and get to spend the night in a hotel and SLEEP IN!  Chalk another one up in the good pile!

What I'm trying to say is that marriage is hard.  For everyone.  Even if the hardest thing you deal with is figuring out how to share because you were both only children, the adjustment and commitment to a single person for the rest of your life will always be hard.  There will always be moments when you want to throw in the towel.  Literally.  I was angrily tossing laundry in the dryer the other evening and the voice in my head was shouting at me to just go upstairs and call it off.  But you can't unring that bell.  Once it's out there, it colors just about everything going forward.  Take a breath.  Take a walk.  Lock yourself in the bathroom for a five-minute breather.  Go to counseling--alone, together, or both.  But don't assume that just because it's hard you're doing it wrong, or that there isn't enough love in your marriage to make it work.

My marriage, my family, my life, is worth keeping.  It's worth fighting for.  We've been through Hell, but we have stayed true to our vows.  We've seen better and worse; affluence and scraping by; Melting Pot and ramen noodles; sickness and health.  Every day we get the same choice--whether to keep choosing this life together.  And today, although in many ways it is just another day to make the same choice, it's the anniversary of our public proclamation of that choice.  And looking back at all we survived, all we've built together, all we've experienced, I'm reaffirming my choice.

Heart of my heart.  We're in this together.  I've got your back.  Madly, magically, always.

1 comment:

  1. Mary:

    I'm sure you know this, but it also never hurts to hear it from others. You are a fabulous writer.