Week 2 of the Love and Marriage Blog Series: Tough times in marriage.
We've all been there. Its not easy, blending two lives, two families, two cultures even. And the main thing I have learned about hard times in marriage is how you respond to them. There are so many times that I have thought things were so hard. I now look back and see that these were the things that made me, made us. These are the things that made us strong. Made us cling to one another.
My first test in marriage started early. Just after the honeymoon. Wait?... I hear you saying, the first year of marriage should be the best, right? For me, the first year of marriage started out moving. Changing. Leaving. All of my family, friends, comfort zone, warm weather, palm trees and white beaches. We came home from our honeymoon and spent the next few days packing. At the age of 20 this was a new and exciting adventure. Starting our married life in a new place, new part of the country, in our new apartment together. And it was fun. It was exciting. And it was one of the hardest times of my life. I remember being so lonely. Missing my family so much. And trying so hard to fit in in my new world. But looking back I think this first year was the cornerstone. The foundation that truly defined me as a person. As an individual and as a married woman. It made me find my independence and it created the separation of being a daughter to being a wife. Of leaving your father and mother and clinging to my husband. It taught me to trust, even when it wasn't easy or natural.
From this first year, we moved into starting a family. Our sweet Jayden was born just 5 days after our first anniversary. We had moved into our first home. Survived our first winter in Ohio and had become parents. I stopped working and started keeping a little boy so I could be with Jayden all the time. We had the usual struggles. Financial. Little fights and arguments. Married stuff.
But in May of 2005, our lives were turned upside down. I was 6 months pregnant with Evan and we had just learned that Jarrod's brother had committed suicide. It's a time I have only blogged about once. The family business as we knew it, crumbled. Our livelihood. Everything once again moved. Changed. I watched my husband grieve and felt completely helpless. It's a time I still look back on and see with blurred vision. I feel like I pulled away here. I didn't know how to help him. I felt like conversation was gone. Like the true relationship was gone. Even though we rarely spoke about it, I knew my husband was struggling and there was nothing I could do.
After a year, Jarrod decided to break out of the family business and start a car lot. He needed change. He needed a break from family and the cloud that covered the business. After years of buying cars at an auction and selling them on the side, he decided to go into it full time. A year and a half later, we combined forces with my parents, moved to south Georgia, and went into wholesaling. It was 2007. We spent that year building our business and a year later, the economy crashed.
We stuck it out as long as we could. We welcomed our little Avery in 2009 and shortly afterwards, had a pile of medical bills from an accident that Evan had. We also still had our first house in Ohio. We had spent a year with in and out tenants, an eviction that cost thousands and several months without rent. Between not having health insurance, the rental property and trying to wait out the economic crash, we were financially drained. The stress on our marriage was getting harder and harder to overcome. We had both, at times, even searched out divorce attorneys. "It will be easier", I told myself, "Split everything and move on. Jarrod can move back to Ohio and I will stay here with my parents."
This is where the decision comes in. This is fight or flight. Moving back somewhere that you really don't want to live and doing something that you really don't want to do. Leaving family and friends, once again. Uprooting your children, once again. But it's not about the here and now. It's about the long run. Looking to the future. Fighting for what you believe in. Unfortunately, for some marriages, this always takes both people. Thankfully, in mine, we were both willing. We went into marriage believing divorce was not an option. We believe that marriage is worth fighting for. And we believe that for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, we will stand by each others side.
So, in January 2011, we packed up and moved back to Ohio. We both took jobs back with his family's rebuilt company, determined to get ourselves back on our feet and our marriage back to thriving.
We celebrated our 10th anniversary in June and took our first mini vacation with just the two of us. And I feel blessed to say that I'm more in love today than I was when we took our vows 10 years ago. And as I look back, I marvel at God's grace. We're still married. We have 4 healthy, happy children. We never missed a meal. We didn't lose our house. As a matter of fact, we never missed a payment - on anything. Do we still fuss? Sure. Petty fights? You bet. But we are so blessed and so much stronger because of it all.
In all of this I have decided that it's not the hard times that makes or breaks us. It's the decision we make during those times. The decision to cling or pull away. The decision to stay or run. To allow the time to refine us or to allow it to chip away at us. It's not always the easy route but believe me, its well worth the fight.