My New Year’s resolutions usually involve a promise to do something new. But this year my resolution has nothing to do with the new and everything to do with the old.
Nine years ago I made a promise to my husband; a package of promises, really. I promised to love, honor, and cherish; in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer; forsaking all others as long as we both shall live. For the most part I have upheld those promises. But there have also been times when life has changed, and the way I need to fulfill those promises has changed as well.
I realized this to a greater degree over the past couple years. Four hospital stays in two years brought unforeseen bills that mushroomed into an insurmountable burden. My husband and I have both worked to make ends meet and overcome that debt, with me taking a series of low-paying jobs because I needed flexibility as a mother.
During these tough times, I thought that a cheerful attitude and dedicated attention were the special ingredients to supporting my husband. But when we spoke plainly to each other about what we needed to feel supported by each other, the truth came as quite a surprise to me.
I brought a lot of love to our marriage, and that’s as it should be. But he needed me to be a bigger financial help. Sure, he loved the fact that I cared about being a good wife and mother, taking time to provide good meals and a clean home. But he was working an eight to five and then pulling a seven to eleven night job as well. All the sweet smiles and ironed shirts weren’t going to relieve what was weighing him down so heavily—our debts.
Our conversation helped me realize I had been interpreting that “for richer, for poorer” section of the vows as: “I will love you whether you are high on the hog or down and out.” But my husband needed me to fulfill that vow by recognizing “when we’re in the ‘for poorer’ stage of this commitment, I need help shouldering this burden.”
So for the past year, we have dedicated ourselves to finding a solution to our finances. Victor suggested we needed to work “smarter” and not necessarily harder, which was a good (and relieving) point. We go about our marriage with a mindset of teamwork. If one of us is willing to make some changes, then the other is too.
My husband is an extremely talented salesman, but he works as a warehouse manager. I am a word wizard, but I find myself cleaning toilets and giving guided nature hikes. This year we began taking steps to begin using our natural talents into our work, and hopefully to make a better income.
Currently, I am working from home part-time as a writer—while still mowing lawns, cleaning houses, and waitressing. I have also started going to school online to become a legal proofreader. When I finish the course in a few months, I should be able to work full time from home.
Hopefully the exhaustion of all these part-time jobs will only be for a little while longer. In the meantime, I’m keeping my commitment to my marriage vows in the forefront of my mind.
That’s why, in 2018, I am making a point to recommit to my marriage vows, however they need to be met this coming year. I’m creating a PDF of our marriage vows and making that image the wallpaper on my laptop.
Every day I will see the words of that promise, and I will ask myself how I can fulfill those vows to my husband today. I know it will be hard, but I must succeed in order to hold up my end of the bargain—to be the support that my husband needs me to be in our marriage, for richer, for poorer.