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In a marriage, we make vows to love each other in sickness and in health, but I’d venture to say that if either you or your spouse weren’t sick at the time of your marriage, you don’t really think about “What if something happens to them?” Maybe you do, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that none of us really want to look into the future and see the bad things that are coming. We want to focus on the good things to come… and we should! After awhile though, you start to get comfortable and you start to get out of the “honeymoon phase”, and unintentionally stop appreciating your spouse as much as you can. I rarely speak about the hard times in marriage, because I truly believe that those things should be private and not broadcasted to the whole world, but let’s just say that at some point you will reach a tough spot. It may be sickness, financial troubles, or something else, but SOMETHING comes in and shakes up your marriage. For my marriage, it was my cancer diagnosis… Things were great and we were “in it” together, but after he went back to work after being home with me for 6 weeks and then again for 2 weeks after both of my surgeries, I got very depressed and I know it strained my marriage. Eventually, I realized what I needed and I also realized that I wasn’t giving 100% either (by the way, it’s impossible to give 100% all the time, sometimes you’ll be 60%/40%, sometimes 50% combined and sometimes in the really amazing moments you are lucky enough to be giving close to (or even over 100% collectively), but either way, we COMMUNICATED and worked on things and got back to a really great place. Even though things were never really “bad” per se, they were still stressful. We would both be trying to fill our schedules as a way of distracting ourselves from the cancer, the stress, and the reality of where we were in all of it. My point is, we were creating distractions to avoid dealing with reality head-on together as much as we possibly could.

More recently (probably about 3 weeks ago), I was driving in my car with music in the background and I started to get emotional. I realized, that for the first time in a long time, I was present with only me, myself and I. I wasn’t distracted by my phone, the drive was peaceful and uneventful and very, very quiet. Too quiet… but I’m thankful for it, because it gave me some time to just think about my life: where I am, where I want to be, how I can be better, etc… and it hit me, I wasn’t giving my husband my best… He deserves that. I had a very real, honest, bawling your eyes out moment in my car on a country road basically pleading with God to help me be a better person… not just for myself, but for my husband, my family, my friends… and to honor Him, so that I can become the right type of person for my future children. I came home and told my husband about my conversation with God and he (as always) reassured me that I am doing a great job, that I’m not a failure and that I’m not letting him down (he’s pretty amazing like that sometimes). Even still, I felt like I had been letting him down on some level. So, I prayed again later that night to ask God to help me be the best I can be for my husband.

Then… just a few days ago, I found out that 2 different friends had passed away on the same day from 2 different health issues and I got really down about things. As a pick-me-up, my husband sweetly brought home flowers to cheer me up. A couple of days later, I had asked him to change out the water on my flowers. It was a very heavy, square, thick vase. Well… somehow, he “hulked” the vase and punched his thumb through on of the sides on a corner of the vase and started bleeding. I went into panic mode. We applied pressure to his thumb and I took him to the ER. They put a few stitches in, but said it would require surgery. We were lucky enough that there was an opening for surgery the next day. Now, we are facing him enduring physical therapy for 2-3 months, isn’t allowed to lift weight, and he’s bandaged/casted up, which is all really difficult considering it was his dominant hand and he’s a wheelchair user that obviously needs his hands to function.

Once we got back home and I was cleaning up the blood in the kitchen, I realized that this vase was a symbol of our marriage. Sometimes, I need to be picked up and (although rare), sometimes he does too. As much as I want to spare him this pain and misery, I feel like this is God’s test to me. This is my chance to step up and take care of my husband. This is my chance to figuratively and literally pick up the broken pieces. No one ever wants to see their significant other in pain or hurting emotionally, but it is possible to go through hard times and come out stronger than ever. I know that I would do anything that I could to take away his pain, because he is 100% the person I am meant to be with. He is the single most important person in my life and I need to treat him like that more often, not just when things get tough.

We’re one of those weird couples that always celebrates every milestone (first date anniversary, dating anniversary, wedding anniversary, etc). We’ve always been in the “honeymoon phase” throughout our entire relationship (even when things get hard). I’ve never stopped “dating” my husband and I pray that I never will, but I do know that sometimes we get so wrapped up in getting through each week’s schedule that we forget to stop, looking around, and appreciate what we’ve built together, accomplished together and defeated together. So far, we’ve survived my cancer diagnosis, house renovations, and major surgeries, but we’ve also built a beautiful life together that I need to sometimes look back on and appreciate more. In sickness and in health, I would never want to have anyone else by my side going through it all together. We are MEANT TO BE on this journey together.

Finally, if I could give any advice to couples that might be struggling, it would be, do a health check… not an actual health check (although, I recommend that too), but a relationship check. Have an open dialogue constantly about your personal goals and dreams that you each have, as well as your dreams for your future as a couple. Take time out for each other (and yourself), get away, be distraction-free with just the two of you. Don’t just live your life week-to-week scheduled down to the minute. Step away from the every day stuff, and take time out for your marriage, because outside of your relationships with God, yourself, your parents, children and siblings, that will always be one of the most important relationship you will ever have in your life. Don’t forget to treat it that way!

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