Monday, August 11, 2008

This Day in History and The Story of Us

My husband and I have been married for seven years. Seven. Here's a (slightly crooked) picture from the big day:

The fact that the photo is slightly crooked speaks volumes about our marriage in general. Nothing has really gone as planned, or as expected, or as hoped for...nothing has followed the straight and narrow for us.

We got married after maintaining a two-year, long-distance relationship. Our early days as newlyweds were interesting, to say the least. We didn't really argue, but I have to admit, I had a harder time adjusting to co-habitating than he did. It was sort of like, "Dude, pick up your socks and get your crap off my dresser." Over time, though, we settled into pretty decent routines. And wonder of all wonders, we discovered that I can cook! And I'm not being boastful or proud. I really can cook and I can cook well! Our first year was filled with all kinds of craziness, including doing laundry every week at the laundromat or at my parents' darling husband trying to find a finishing my Master's Degree...barely making it paycheck to paycheck.

We had our first real fight the day before our one-month wedding anniversary and it ended with me throwing a potato peeler across the kitchen. We went to bed without speaking that night. The next day was September 11, 2001. Our silence was broken when I was driving to work and called home, asking him to put on CNN to confirm what I had just heard on the radio...the second tower being hit in New York. That put things into perspective in a hurry.

That first year flew by, as did the second year.

In the summer of 2003, my husband was finishing his Master's Degree and had to complete an internship. We were put in a unique and difficult situation...he had to complete his internship in Wisconsin and at the same time, I was offered a promotion with a really nice salary increase at my company here in Illinois. We agonized over the decision and ended up living separately from September 2003 to January 2004, seeing each other only on weekends, as we had done when were dating. I found out later that some of our friends had actually placed bets on whether the "internship" was a secret code for a separation and divorce. Nice friends, huh?

We wanted to buy a house, but weren't quite ready yet, so we settled into a new apartment while my darling looked for a new job, with hopes of being able to put his new Master's Degree to good use. It was a difficult time as we re-adjusted to living together--it was like being newlyweds again, only instead of it just being, "Dude, pick up your socks and get your crap off my dresser", it also included the rigors of narrowing our choices for a house and wondering if we were ever going to have a family of our own.

By summer of 2004, we decided to build a house in a new subdivision and finally accepted that we were going to be looking into adoption. Nature hadn't exactly (ahem) run its course with us, and since we knew adoption would probably take a year or longer, we dumped our life savings into a down payment on our new house. It was Thursday, September 9, 2004 the day we signed all the papers for the house and handed over the cashier's check to the builder. I hadn't been feeling well--very tired and fatigued, irritable, uncomfortable. I'd called the doctor's office and based on my history, he thought it was my thyroid, but asked me to take a pregnancy test before my appointment on Monday. I grumbled about it--I'd been taking pregnancy tests on and off for three years, always with the same result. But fine, okay, whatever. I told him I'd take it Saturday and see him on Monday.

My husband was working on Saturday and I had bought one of those nifty digital pregnancy tests--where the words Pregnant or Not Pregnant come up, instead of those goofy pink or blue lines. I did the test that morning, September 11, 2004, set it on the counter and proceeded to brush my teeth. I glanced down after a few seconds and saw the word "Pregnant." I shrugged and thought, 'Oh, the NOT didn't come up yet.' I continued to brush my teeth and two minutes later, I looked at it again and yup, there it was..."Pregnant." I actually picked up the test and banged it on the counter, asking out loud why it wasn't working.

Suffice to say that those two minutes changed everything. I took another test, and when my husband got home, he went out and bought two more tests (different brands) and I took those, too. All came up positive. Holy buckets. I was having a baby! And our entire life savings just went into a down payment for a house! It was an anxiety provoking time, but of course, it worked out as best as it could under the circumstances.

On our fourth wedding anniversary, we were the proud parents of a three month old and I was getting ready to go back to work. Things had been tense between us (adjusting to a new baby and all), but that anniversary was...well, it was just bad. My second day back at work, my husband dropped a series of bombs on me (which, now that I'm thinking about it, all consisted of four word sentences--NOT four-letter words. There was no cussing. Just a series of short, curt, blunt sentences.) and altered the course of our marriage.

On September 11, 2005, while most people were thinking about the anniversary of 9/11, I was thinking about how only a year earlier, I'd found out I was pregnant, and now, my daughter was being Baptized. I took a lot of nonsense from family and friends for having her Baptized that day, but that's a whole different story by itself.

The rest of 2005 and a good chunk of 2006 passed like something out of the Twilight Zone for me. The times were mostly bad (for us as a couple) and scary (for our daughter, who was seriously sick during that time) and by the time our fifth wedding anniversary rolled around, I was walking around with a permanent headache. Things were better between us, but definitely different. There were no "Happy Anniversary" wishes between us that year. In 2007, things continued to improve, though by that time, we both fully understood that there was no "going back to the way things used to be." I was more accepting of that than he was...of course, my logic was that I didn't want to go back to whatever it was that got us into such an awful mess in the first place.

A lot took place between then and now, and I look back at it and see that I have changed, many times over. I always believed that the core of someone doesn't change over time, but these past several years have altered that belief for me. If I could have seen into the future back in 2005, I wouldn't have even recognized myself today. It's neither good nor bad. It's just different.

I try to explain that to my husband. We love each other deeply--the sacrifices we've made just to get where we're at are testament to that--but I tell my husband often that I love him differently now than I did three years ago or seven years ago, or even nine years ago when we first got together. We know each other on completely different levels and have learned to cope with that.

I think the love between us is wise beyond the years of our marriage. The priest who performed our wedding ceremony told me that a few years ago, at the same time he told me that he and God had faith in our ability to heal the damage that had wreaked havoc on our relationship. I couldn't see it then, but I see it now. I see it for what it is. I may not always like it, but I get it.

We've covered a lot of territory in the past seven years...gone the distance, I guess.

Speaking of which, our song is "The Distance" by Evan and Jaron, which nobody ever heard of until it was used in the movie "Serendipity". We danced to the acoustic version at our wedding, but you can hear the un-acoustic version and see the last few minutes of the movie "Serendipity" here.

Oh, and honey...Happy Anniversary. What a crazy ride it's been!


Andrew said...

It sounds like you and your husband are truly lucky to have each other! I love reading posts where couples talk about the good aspects of their marriage instead of the other way around. Come to think of it, I actually did some tongue-in-cheek "research" on that very topic in this post. It seems there may actually be more good than bad in the world :)

Cheryl said...

You keep it real, Martha. You're a fighter...I'm sure a lot of other marriages would have crumbled. Thanks for sharing your story. I love these kinds of posts.

And your previous post? Yes, scary green eyes.

Anonymous said...

You have a pattern, if you haven't seen it already Every year seems to be getting better even through new hardships. Happy anniversary. :)

jAMiE said...

Happy anniversary Martha to you and your husband. Thank you for sharing your story...i enjoyed reading it.