Marriage: An Exercise in Sustaining

This weekend, Chad and I are celebrating ten years of marriage. Ten years. I don’t take that for granted. I know the last ten years of my life (fourteen including our dating years) have been so much sweeter, richer, and fuller because I’ve had Chad by my side. I don’t doubt that for one second. He makes every day better.

We share a love of travel, so for years Chad and I have mused about an exotic vacation for our tenth anniversary, perhaps to the dream location we couldn’t quite afford for our honeymoon. But we didn’t know that we would have a 13-month old and be pregnant for our second baby. It isn’t the season for an exotic vacation alone, but maybe another time. Instead we’ll take an extended weekend (with our son) to reconnect and relax and celebrate what ten years has brought us. We’ll talk about the past year and look ahead at what’s to come.

Very little about this past year has been easy for me, except loving my husband. He has shown me yet again how to be someone who takes care of their partner, who endures and sacrifices, who is intentional and faithful. Becoming a mom has changed so much for me. I have felt so much of myself unravel in the past twelve months: my identity, my productivity, my goals, my career, my mental health.

And Chad has not only stood by me through all of this, he’s found ways to help, he’s sustained me when I thought all was lost. He listened to me say things you hope to never hear a loved one say. He helped me find the help I needed to cope.

Most of all, he’s continued to look at me and treat me the same way he always has, as if I’m the same person I’ve always been. Because I am; I’m just a mother now, too. And when I’ve forgotten that when I’ve forgotten who I am, when I feel like the person I was is now buried under diapers and nap schedules and milk bottles Chad has been here to show me the truth: you’re still you. 

There have been a lot of moments in the past year when I’ve doubted myself. But there have been zero moments that Chad doubted me. Marriage is a lot about that kind of belief in each other. We don’t always believe in ourselves, but it’s good to have a person sitting beside you who can believe enough for both of you, and who knows when it’s time to ask for help. Chad has sustained our marriage this year. He’s sustained me.

I can’t say what support I’ve been to Chad in return this year. I honestly don’t know because I’ve been so preoccupied with trying trying to survive that I haven’t been able to see beyond an arm’s length. Lucky for me, Chad has always said my only job is to get our son and I through each day. I’ve done that. We’re still here. And I have managed other things too: laundry and dishes, keeping up with family and friends, celebrating milestones. But in the marriage department, I’m not sure I brought a lot to the table this year. I honestly don’t know what it was like for Chad to see me fall apart. I don’t know how much it hurt him, how it may have changed our relationship, how much of a burden my husband carried because of me. It hasn’t been possible for me to consider those things because getting through each day, coping, and, maybe, even healing have been my priority. I’m sorry for that.

It hasn’t all been bad, don’t get me wrong. Our son is pretty adorable, and smart and silly and easy-going. And we’ve traveled and we’ve eaten delicious food and we’ve spent time with friends and family. We’ve enjoyed date nights and watched movies together on the couch and done crossword puzzles over breakfast on Saturday mornings, albeit all less than we did before. We’ve watched our son grow and change and amaze us. And we’ve watched my belly start growing again with a new little wiggly baby inside. It’s been a year with no shortage of joy and no shortage of darkness, much like many other years, much like many years to come I’m sure. And we’ll sustain each other through each one.

Chad, you’ve been my every relief this year. You’ve worked so hard to provide us with everything we need. And you’ve been my constant sustainer. Thank you for seeing me underneath the “mom” role, for continuing to see me as your wife, as a friend and daughter and sister, as a smart, capable person. Thank you for your constant mindset of abundance — for reminding me that we have all that we need and more, for prioritizing our health as a family. And thank you for being a fun, dependable, attentive dad. Samuel and this new baby are so lucky.

We have some more challenges ahead, but I think I’m ready. I want to be more present and supportive of you and us. I want to be excited for this new little life entering our family (for the second year in a row). I want to make plans and goals and focus on getting all we can out of what we’ve been given. I want to share life with you more and more and more. I choose you every day. 

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