The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

How can you not be concerned about these things?

After my diligent preparation to naturally deliver our perfect child, I ended the day with a c-section, a giant baby with glucose issues, and family whispering about me in the waiting room because I wouldn’t let them in before visiting hours.

The next few months – no, the next few years, was when it all really happened.

We both screwed up. Lots.

I backed the Grand Prix into your Jeep, not realizing you had left for work on the motorcycle. You flooded the house by leaving a dirty burp cloth in the sink and a faucet running for three hours. I spent all our money while you spent all your energy people-pleasing. We confided in the wrong people, and rarely in each another.

We lived in three different places and held five different jobs in those years. We had two more giant babies and a couple of large, hairy dogs. We managed to be good parents, even if we weren’t the best partners. We poured ourselves into the kids while avoiding the truth of what we were — or weren’t.

Then we started losing things. We lost my income, and with it went comfort and security. We got creative. We communicated better. We learned to manage a household and survive on much less.

We lost people we loved – so many people. Nine family members and two dear friends. We grieved hard. We grieved together, and separately. We offered grace and space to one another and to ourselves.

In the process of losing those people, we realized we had to lose some more. We had to let go of the ones who would wreck us. So we did. We detached from the people who caused division and quieted the ones who wanted us to do it their way. And when we finally came together as husband and wife – when we traded all the noise for the one steady voice that mattered, we started losing the things we needed to lose. Pride. Selfishness. Entitlement. Control. The paralyzing quest for significance.

Could it be possible that the whole time, it wasn’t the other person I resented – it was myself? Could it be that I didn’t marry the wrong person, but I WAS the wrong person?

We got real with our ugliness and brokenness. We brought it out into the light and turned it over in our hands.

We dumped secrets we’d concealed for years.

We yelled and trembled and cried on our knees, asking “Are we going to make it? Are we choosing to do this?”

And then we chose it.

We choose it. Every damn day, we choose it.

Because when we finally surrendered, we realized that somehow, in the wreckage of that first decade, we had actually learned what it was to forgive. Forgiveness, we could do.

I’m not going to say it became easy. Relationships are never easy. But when we stopped seeing imperfections and started seeing good people who were trying — man, were we trying,  we softened and opened to one another. When we stopped working against each other and established ourselves as a team, we realized the power and potential of our partnership.

There will probably still be moments where we stay because we believe in marriage. Because we believe in family. There are moments we’ll stay because we don’t want to do it alone.

But more often, we stay because we truly choose one another. Because somehow during these messy years, maybe when we weren’t even looking, we became best friends.

Part of marriage is simply going through the motions. Staring at each other across a dinner table of food the kids refuse to eat. Taking turns cleaning up vomit. Scheduling intimacy.

But there are also the rare and glorious moments when we truly come alive together — when we’re standing in the sunlight in a ripening garden of things we grew together. The steady river in our yard is a song to which we both know the words, and we’re discovering that along the way, we’ve even learned to dance.

We made it, Love. We’re here.

By the grace of God and the willingness to be broken and the exchange of a thousand I’m-sorrys, we made it.

Ten years. We did it.

We’re doing it.


This post originally appeared at Her View From Home, published with permission.

Stacy Harrison
Stacy Harrison
Stacy Harrison lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with her husband, three sons and a Goldendoodle who wasn’t supposed to shed. When she’s isn’t moonlighting as a wrestling referee (Living Room Floor Federation), Stacy enjoys writing non-fiction, primarily to-do lists and grocery lists. Visit her blog, Revisions of Grandeur, or see what Stacy’s up to on Facebook or Twitter.

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