A lot of couples put off marriage because they don’t have their “white picket fence,” or that dream job that pays well, or because they haven’t achieved some other milestone they think important before marriage. Yet, when my husband and I faced disappointment after disappointment during our engagement, we decided that we would rather marry poor than not marry at all.
Fast forward a few years, and we are living in my father’s home. After a long day of cleaning up after my two daughters, working with a client, and cooking dinner with my father, I went downstairs to the basement and found my husband sitting on the couch with his computer, still working.
I felt so “done.” Both of us were tired and stressed and feeling the pressure of sharing a home with extended family. My husband had another pressure as well: working overtime to keep his job. He was a programmer with a company overseas, which meant he could work from home. The problem was that he was always working. It got to the point that I was taking my frustration out on him because I felt I was working overtime with family responsibilities.
When I came downstairs that day and saw him working overtime again, I flipped. My husband was home all day, yet I never felt so alone.
My husband shared his own frustration: He was working overtime in a job that underpaid him; he could hardly ever take a break, even for the bathroom; and he was stressing over the payments for our move out-of-state and the challenge of saving up for a new house. I was home all day… and he never felt so alone either.
This scenario played out multiple times over the first few months after we moved in with my father. We were both angry and over-stressed and taking it out on one another.
After we had a few talks about it, we realized we had been through something similar before: the start of our marriage! Both of us had been unemployed, I was pregnant and uninsured, and we were living in my mother’s basement. Yet, we made it through that trying time. Why were we not making it together now?
As younger adults, we knew that our love wasn’t built on ideals, it was built on work and dedication. Our struggles were just that: our struggles. We wanted love to carry us through the storm instead of waiting the storm out without the other there. And carry through the storm we did: We eventually found a job and moved out into our own apartment. Money was and still is a struggle, but it is our struggle, and one that has made us stronger.
Through work and dedication in our early marriage, we were able to get out of an unwanted situation and grow our bond as a couple. My husband and I realized that we were failing ourselves and each other by forgetting the lesson we learned early in our marriage. After talking about this, we both agreed to one thing: We needed to stop arguing over ideals, and instead work for our love.
We did what we could at first, considering my husband’s overtime: I would send him special messages over Facebook during the day expressing my appreciation for how hard he worked. He would thank me for taking care of our daughters. We made time to eat lunch together and chat, and we enjoyed movies on TV late at night as we got ready for bed (even if he was only able to look over his computer screen as he programmed).
Eventually, the overtime was over and done with. We took the opportunity to go on more family walks outside, and to take a quick coffee date after work hours. We continued expressing how we felt about each other, because we knew even in good times, little reminders and compliments can go a long way.
And now, our work is flourishing: We have again bonded over our financial struggles, and we will be able to buy our own home next year! In the meantime, we are still living with my father, in his basement, crowded in a single room together. Is our situation ideal? No. But love isn’t about ideals, is it? With love, my husband and I were able to get out of our funk together and find the best in non-ideal situations.