The story of our marriage includes a series of misfortunes—and, sometimes, I wasn’t sure that we would make it.
It started when a couple of weeks after Jason and I got married. A safety inspector at the cable company where Jason worked ordered him to gaff a pole—even though Jason felt like it wasn’t safe—or else risk punishment. So Jason did. And he fell eighteen feet, injured his back, and was unable to work for months. Oh, the irony.
After the accident, we packed up and moved to North Carolina in hopes that Jason could work with his brother doing commercial flooring. It lasted three weeks. Payday came and went and there was no pay for Jason’s hard work. Times were tough, the company said.
We had just married and now two employers had let us down. Would this kind of drama follow us forever in our life together?
We were infuriated and felt so let down that we moved back home to Kentucky. But instead of going back home to a safe refuge, we met a lot of conflict in our families, and found ourselves moving from one family member to another. It seemed like every time Jason found a job, something went wrong.
I could go on with the struggles we faced, but you get the picture. The climax came when Jason passed out and found out that he had a rare disease—turning our lives upside down in a whole other way. Because of previous medical problems, we had already been forced to declare bankruptcy twice. But this time, we lost our home, too. We weren’t frivolous with our finances. We just wound up getting kicked (and kicked again) while we were down.
On paper, we look like good candidates for divorce court. I know people who have divorced because of smaller struggles. We have friends who are struggling and headed for divorce because they simply cannot connect and find that understanding, patience, and communication that they once had. But through all the things that could easily have driven us apart, we refuse to let that happen.
How do we do it?
First, we face our challenges together as a team. When I think about Jason and his medical problems (which he never asked for), I don’t think of them as his problems—I think of them as a challenge that we face together. He was inevitably going to have all of these medical nightmares occur and I refuse to give up on him or kick him while we are down. I am not selfish enough to crawl out of that hole and leave him there.
I say that because the sad part is that I know someone who did just that. A relative of mine was married to a woman and once he was diagnosed with ALS and things started to get shaky, she said she couldn’t handle it and left him. He was then moved to a retirement home where he lived for three years and then ultimately passed away just a month ago. Absolutely heartbreaking. And I am not going to allow a similar thing happen to us.
Second, we focus on the love that we have built and still share together. The great times, and the way that I feel about him outweighs the sadness every single time. Why? Because I am utterly, undeniably in love with him. I will sometimes look at pictures of us when we were younger, healthier versions of ourselves and I become overwhelmed with happiness. Our lives were so intricately woven together and if we hadn’t met that one night, all of this would have ceased to exist. He said those little words, “I’m shy,” and right then, I started to give him my heart.
Or I will look at our son, or remember something profound that he has said and then think to myself, in total awe, that we created him. We brought this amazing, phenomenal boy into the world because of our love for each other and then we realize, from strangers even, that we must be doing something right because of how he simply exists, exudes love to all who see him, and just how he carries himself at the age of only six years old. I remember these things, as well as our humor, whenever we stare hardships in the face.
Finally, we have the attitude that divorce is simply not an option. We are problem solvers and we get through it one day at a time. Some days are harder than others, no doubt, but we are in this together. If we don’t allow the idea of divorce to settle into our day-to-day vernacular, then it will never exist in our life together. Period.
Like soldiers in battle who become brothers because of all that they have been through together, Jason and I have found that, if we let them, our struggles can actually bring us closer together.