We have been through so much together. (Me -n- Brad. Not me -n- Lenny.) Even from the beginning of US. We lived in 2 different countries for our FOUR dating years!! That's not easy. During that time, I lost my brother, my only sibling. Brad lost an uncle he was close to. Then we had the usual issues of people first married/first living together. I remember saying at least a million times in those first years "I just want my own towel." Oh, and also "I just want my own toothbrush." How does someone like me, that is annoyed by almost everything, marry someone like him who doesn't even care whose toothbrush he uses? I would absolutely rather NOT brush my teeth than use someone else's toothbrush. Anyway, that's the small stuff. I didn't think so at the time. But it is. Also, I have learned to keep my towel out of reach of the shower. Muahahaha that will show him!
He put up with me through my partial bedrest during the last few weeks of my first pregnancy. We survived...no we THRIVED...when we found out our baby had Down syndrome. Many couples don't even make it through having a child with special needs. This wasn't all fun and games, though. We didn't see eye to eye on MANY parenting issues, with both girls. His laid back, just let it happen personality didn't always mesh with my control freak, just let me do it and make it perfect personality. (This may or may not still be an issue for us....)
There were always issues with our extended families. Like most couples have. I won't go into a lot of detail here, but there was usually something going on with our parents. That time that Brad and my Dad were screaming at each other in our living room, and Brad yelled "F#*% You!" Yeah, that was awkward. (It all turned out ok...just so you know.)
"So many tears we cried, so much pain inside." Yep. We caused each other so much pain, so often. My high (and admittedly unrealistic) expectations of him. His fear of disappointing me that led him to hide stuff from me, even if it was no biggie. "So many years we tried to keep our love alive." Have you married folks ever heard your spouse say "Are you happy? Because I am not happy." And you can't even be upset that he isn't happy, because NO you are not happy? Those conversations were hard. Gut-wrenching hard.
We attended a Marriage Encounter weekend. That's where you spend a weekend listening to speakers who talk about marriage, and you learn a communication technique where you write to each other. It was a very helpful thing!! I highly recommend it.
Then came our BIG stuff. I don't think either of us really care to share that here in a blog. I can tell you that no one cheated. But that doesn't mean it wasn't big huge marriage killing stuff. I truly didn't think we would make it. But we found a counselor and went through our first counseling sessions. I don't know what that is like for other people, but we DID know we had a lot of love between us. We decided we had to invest in us. We didn't have much money at the time, and counseling is freaking expensive. But we kind of made a date night out of it each week for a few months. We rode Brad's motorcycle there, which is kind of intimate anyway. It's hard to be mad at someone who has your life in his hands (or be mad at someone who is holding on to you for dear life. Depending on which seat you are in.) So it wasn't over yet! We made it!
A few years after this, God led us to a new church. Away from the denomination I had spent my entire life in. We found Christ in a whole new way. We learned so much, and we started putting Him in our marriage. All those years of church going, but He was never at the center.
A terrible tragedy happened in our family...I have shared the details before. Bottom line is that my 20 year old niece was murdered by her father. This had (still has) a huge impact on just about every aspect of my life, including our marriage. Not because Brad had anything to do with it, of course. It's just that something so horrific seeps into your being. But he stuck with me and helped me through the whole thing. And he understands the fact that this will always be a part of us. Sad, but true.
Then came more BIG stuff. Different big stuff. Still no cheating, don't worry kids! But big nonetheless. This time, we chose a Christian counselor. Honestly, it was a bit awkward. He was a very quiet dude. We talked and spilled our guts and he never cut in to say anything. Once we were done, he would remain silent for what seemed like 10 minutes, then he would drop these TRUTH BOMBS on us that just about took our breath away. It was worth the wait to hear what he would say! By helping us put Christ between us even more, he helped us stay married, which was obviously such a blessing.
Do we still have problems? No. We are perfect and never fight. hahahaha just kidding. We argue, we disagree. We just know that most of it is NOT big stuff. He tells me more stuff (yay Brad!) and I try not to overreact (yay me!) and when we mess up, we forgive. I'm sure the 24 years of marriage has made us more wise, but I know that one big change I made is that I pray for him all the time. For work, for his situations that bug him, for God to just be with him and help him through his days. I am sure this had made a big difference!
Why am I telling you this? Because over the past several months, marriage counseling has come up for one reason or another in a few conversations. And people have thanked me for sharing that we have needed help, because maybe they need help, too, and it feels better knowing others have gone through some shit, too. It's hard to believe that people have said to me "Oh, you guys seem so happy all the time!" haha #facebook (As if I would post "Brad left his dirty clothes on the floor next to the hamper AGAIN" or he would post "OMG why won't she stop nagging me about those dirty clothes?")
"How many times did we give up, but we always worked things out. And all my doubts and fears have kept me wondering, yeah, if I'd always, always be in love"
We may not always be "IN LOVE" every minute. But Baby, it ain't over til it's over.