Of all places to meet.
I think 50% of marriages start in highschool. Depends who you ask.
But I am seeing another trend.
Most of them end.
Talking to a friend the other night who got married in highschool, I counted...32 marriages right out of highschool, within a year or two-over. All but two. Mine and hers. It saddens me. It scares me a little too be honest. When will ours end? Are we next? I asked my friend why she thinks J and I are still married. What did we do that made us so special? I was the first in my class to get married. 10th grade.
Shouldn't I have been the first divorced, statistically speaking?
No judgement. We came close to a divorce once. We were facing a great challenge in our marriage. What was done was already done.
Our second child had been aborted.
Now it was getting through all of it.
Through the bitterness I felt toward my Husband. The hate and disgust I carried. I loathed him with every fiber of my being.
As for my Husband, the burden of the guilt he was enduring was too much...It didn't help one bit that I did everything I could to show him how much I hated him at that time.
But I didn't know.
I didn't know he got up every morning for over a year after that day and he went to a job that made him miserable-feeling dead inside as he ran lines through buildings and cried about our Lucy when he thought no one was looking. That was his only time to himself. He couldn't come home to his wife who hated him and tell her he needed help. How was he to get through this without time to process? How did I expect him to comfort me at night as I cried if he was holding back tears himself?...
It was a struggle.
Both suffering with no one to lean on.
No one to tell.
So we began fighting. And that became or routine.
But I remember that day. The day I finally said it.
I told him I hated him and I never wanted him to talk to me again. I stormed out I left my 2 year old in the house with him as I hid beside my apartment building and cried. He called for me and I ignored him. He drove around trying to find me and when he did, he got angry that I let him drag our daughter out in the cold like that just to find me 10 feet from our door.
I felt no remorse.
Served him right.
It wasn't until he said, "I want a divorce..."
That I realized
I Loved him.
I really did. But now it was too late. And so I sat on a tiny picnic chair in my daughter's bedroom while she tried to wipe my tears, while handing me dress up jewelry as an attempt to make me feel better, and kissing on my "boo boos." But she couldn't kiss the ones on my heart.
The feeling I had radiated from my heart to the pit of my stomach. There's nothing like it. Like that pain you feel when the person you loved is being ripped away from you by your own hand. I was scared. Terrified to live my life without the only man I had ever been with. The man I really ever did Love.
It never escalated further. We both calmed down. But I wasn't going to let us go back to our old lives. I couldn't. I had to do something with this anger.
I went through a depression that December and January. I spent a lot of my time on the Internet chatting on an abortion recovery forum. So many other women...It seemed like once a week they would announce that a beloved member who was thought to be doing so well in their recovery had committed suicide.
I was determined not to let this tear my life apart.
And as part of my recovery, I wrote my Husband a letter. I told him I was sorry. That all this time I had been thinking of our child as my child and our loss as my loss. Our regrets as my regret. I assumed none of it effected him. But it did. I promised him I'd quit asking to talk until he was ready because I knew by the way that he acted he resented me too.
As he closed the letter, he said the words that would change how I felt about him forever. He said to me, "I don't hate you. Did it ever occur to you the reason I ignore you and don't do anything when you yell and the reason I don't want to talk about it is because I know it is my fault and all I can feel is guilt? I am the man. I am not only here to protect you, but also my children. I failed. And I can't fix it. I ruined your life and I took my child's."
The car ride was silent.
All this time I was thinking of him as this horrible monster. Incapable of human emotion or remorse. All this time he was just good at hiding it because we couldn't both be hurting at the same time. One of us had to be strong.
I'm crying right now thinking about it. I almost threw or marriage away over an assumption. That was a tough time in our marriage. I found help. He actually started talking about it some. And eventually he found help too. Although not to the level I did. I learned I took a huge part in what happened and I had hated myself too for a time. I learned to forgive and not to blame.
That time in our lives, when we realized we did Love each other, when we had to lean on each other, that is the foundation of our marriage.
It surprises me we made it through such a tough time because I don't think I really Loved my Husband in the beginning. I just eventually learned to Love my Husband over time.
After a Summer fling with him as teenagers, we felt madly in Love. Like nothing could stop us. We spent every day together and spent the night at each other's houses frequently-unknown by our parents. (His Mom worked night shift and mine was oblivious or just didn't care one.) If we weren't together, we were texting-back when texting cost 5 cents a text. We had to be careful how much we used. We had our little jokes like "I LU YOU" And "Ar!" "Random Text #3." He called me Britawi and I called him Puffs. Our song was "My Best Friend" by Tim McGraw. We were just as dramatic as most teenagers. Talking about how the world was out to get us. How scaring or childhood was. And how we couldn't wait to graduate and get a life outside the prison they call the "Teen Years."
After 2 months together, we were "engaged." My Husband had sold his Magic the Gathering cards to get up the money to have his Mom order a ring for me out of an Avon magazine. Ha Ha How cheesy. It was the biggest, ugliest, gaudiest ring I ever saw, but I loved it. And I still cherish it. Even with all the stones falling out of it. Of course I have a new ring now.
His Mom dropped us off at "our tree." The tree we used to meet at after school on half days so we could hide from his best friend-my boyfriend. (Wrong I know. I was just a kid. Can't change it now. ) That is where our relationship began and that is where he proposed to me and I said yes. One day it will be the place we get remarried and have a real wedding. Although the tree itself is gone now, the property is still kept up.
Anywho, one day, out of the blue, J asked if I wanted a Baby. A Baby? A man who actually wanted a Baby? Oh yes, please! Of course, as I wrote in this post, I am not sure what made me say yes. But I did. And we didn't waste a moment. I'm a planner so I got a binder and we started researching-everything. What we would need to buy for a baby. How to conceive. I learned a lot about ovulation. Fetal development. Carrying for a child. We decided on colleges. And jobs. And where we would live. (Didn't account for some things and ended up living with my Mom until she was one. But everything else turned out well.)
We were experiencing every teenager's dream. Living with each other. Being together whenever we wanted. No rules about sex. No curfew. We felt free and totally in love. My Husband was supportive all through my pregnancy. He learned about development. Went to parenting classes with me. All my appointments. Worked 40 hours a week plus school. When I was in labor he was there for me.....
But we definitely had our share of challenges once she was born and endorphins and excitement wore off. Life was now split for me between school and family. And for him school, work, and family. It was tough. We argued a lot about immaturity, lack of money, me nagging. Him playing to many video games.
We had left the honey moon stage.
And that's when I had to start learning to Love him when the hard times hit.
I remember the days where he would come home from work and go straight for his games. He wanted to play with S when it was convenient for him, but he didn't even want to change a diaper. And me? Gosh. I was so naggy no wonder we didn't do much together. He wanted to go hiking. I got mad because "The baby" is too young." He wanted to swim? "That cost $4!" And so on...
There was so much I realized I didn't l like about him. And so much he didn't like about me. I didn't like that he was kind of an ass to people sometimes. He didn't put up with crap. And I am one of those people who let's others get away with anything. Forgiveness is my motto. He didn't like that I stayed stressed and I was so uptight about money. He doesn't think budgets should exist. And so on...But slowly I realized these are the things that make us work so well together. We balance each other out.
We do. We have had several people tell us how well we play off each other. Even our banter sounds staged, it is so quick witted. We have a very traditional marriage. He works. I'm home. He brings in the money. I care for the kid. I love what he hates and he loves what I hate. I enjoy cleaning and cooking and caregiving. My Husband hates tedious repetitive work like that. He wants a challenge. He has to go out there and work. Personally, working for pay would kill me. I hate being told what to do. I want to pursue my own interests on my own time. This is us. It works for us.
But still. It is scary. You hear so much about people growing apart, taking different paths. Having different goals in life. Interests changing. Fortunately for us, as we go together, as our goals change, they somehow have become the same. Moderate lifestyle. Helping him work toward employment from home and investing toward retirement. Hoping one day to retire in an area with lots of nature surrounding it. Cabin would be preferable. Fingers crossed we grow to be a couple of old people who still love to tube and hike.
I've seen something like this on a card once. A couple of old wrinkly people in bathing suits laughing it up in the sun...I can only hope...If not, we decided we would settle for a couple of rockers on the front porch and a good view. Maybe a dog at our feet. It's the simple things. Attainable goals.
As for hobbies, I struggled with this one. I've had to make it a conscious effort to love what he loves. As I said before, I tend to love what he hates and hate what he loves. And I will never love video games, aside from some Old School Mario, so outdoors it was. I'm glad I picked that to do with him. I truly enjoy it. And I'm double glad I let him convince me to invest in all that backpacking stuff last Summer. I feel like we are closer than ever when we are all our there in the wild and connecting through nature, looking at the same beauty together. Admiring the sunrise in a hammock hanging over the river. Or joking about the sounds the fire makes while his coffee hearts up over it.
We connect over little things like that. Like when we go to the Pumpkin Patch as a family in the Fall. Or vacation in the Spring. Celebrate holidays with family. Lazy Sundays where binge watch our new favorite series. Currently House MD. And slowly we have fallen even more in love. Real love. Not honey moon Love. Or teenage Love. Or "might as well make the best of it" Love. Or Love that seems perfect because it had never been challenged.
Looking back, do I think we would still be together if we didn't have a child or hadn't gotten married so early? Probably not. He says the same. But we also both say we wouldn't change it.
I don't think it would have lasted in the beginning without the glue. Why give it the effort if you don't have quite as much to lose? But we did. Single parenting. A child growing up in a broken home. Marriage failing. Divorce at a young age. It's all scary. Scarier than just sucking it up and working it all out.
A definite plus to this story is we never had to go through the award "meeting the parents" event because when we met we were just friends. We never had to go through the "meeting the perfect mate" stage or worrying if we will ever meet "the one." Heck, we never even hit the dating scene. He was my first real boyfriend. And I was his first girlfriend. Unsupervised dates and all.
Not to say that over the years I haven't found myself questioning why I am with him. When he does things like make fun of somebody. Or when I don't think he is being the greatest Dad. Because everybody knows I'm perfect. ;) Or when he acts like a normal 23 year old. I think, "There must be a man or there who is more mature than this! " We went through a rough time a few years back when he took up drinking as his newest hobby. He was finally legal age and all he wanted to do on Saturday nights after work was invite his friends over to party. And he was getting into fights frequently in our home. I had never questioned our marriage more than I did in that time. Because now I truly loved him, but he wasn't being the man I loved.
But, just like everything else, it ended.
And we worked through it.
Because there was nothing else we could do.
And over the several years of our marriage I realized why I am with him. He is an amazing man. Flaws and all. He is a man who cares deeply about children and about animals. A man who, like me, is a sucker for helping others. And although he isn't generally as open about trying to help, his support of me alone speaks volumes.
I remember one year he came to support me while telling my testimony at the Pregnancy Center's Banquet, which by itself means so much to me. But there is more. When it came time for pledge time, I didn't hand in a paper. So he did instead. He said, "Give them the money. They need it. We have it. And this is what you are passionate about."
It's the small things that are big things. He wasn't trying to be noble.
I doubt he thinks I remember. But those are the reasons I admire him. Because he is humble. He Loves deeply. And cares secretly. (Oh, and he likes to cuddle.)
And he would literally do anything for me to make me happy. I see it over and over again in the big stuff. He supported me telling our testimony even though he didn't want me to and it risked his reputation. He supported me when I asked for another baby (both times) even when he was apprehensive at first. He supported me when I asked him if we could basically sacrifice $10,000+ a year so I could continue to stay home and homeschool S after she turned school age.
And in the small things. Like the time he bought me a storage case for my hard drive because he knew I wouldn't buy it and he knows my pictures mean the world to me. Or when he puts up with my crazy hippie ideas about life and suffers through the usage of my homemade soaps and toothpastes. And all he asks in return is for me to lay his clothes on the bed in the morning and make his hot tea when he gets home. Maybe even give him a Lavender massage before bed-if I am feeling nice. Oh, and to Love him the way he loves me.
That's why I am with him. He makes me happy and I make him happy. We make each other whole. What more reason does there need to be? Why do I need to know why we have made it so far? There is nothing special about us. We just are. We are just two people who both were determined to MAKE it work, despite the odds being stacked against us.
Almost a decade together and we are still working at things. But just like when we were teenagers, when I find us, just the two of us together in a room, I still want to make it last Forever.
The time together.
Last year I thought I loved him more than I ever could. And this year I love him more than last. It scares me to death to Love someone that much knowing any minute could be my last with him. He could leave me. I may lose it one day and leave him for some unforeseeable circumstances. He could die. I could die. But it is worth it, ever minute.
|The First Photo of Us-At Our Tree-As Friends|
|Trying to add some pictures that show the essence of our teenage relationship. This was my sad attempt at Puppy Eyes and actually let those work....|
|Hi, Being Silly|
|Right After We Got Engaged-At Our Tree|
|Us On Our Anniversary-At Our Tree-I was very pregnant in this picture.|
|Us Being Silly|
|Still Silly-We are very silly.|
|Our First Date-At the Ringgold Pool|
|After Samantha Was Born-Excuse the paleness. I had lost a lot of blood.|
|Saying Our Vows|
|After Our Wedding|
|The "Reception" Him Being Silly Again|
|This was last Summer after being married for almost 4 years, living together for 7.|
|This is a date we went on within the last 6 months. He is always making me laugh so this is perfect.|
|Our Trip to Lynchburg, our first overnight to ourselves. I Love the angle I was able to capture this picture without him knowing.|
|The other morning we woke up to snow on the ground. J requested that we just lay in silence and watch the snow through the window. That was one of my favorite times together.|
|This is what we saw.|
|Our First Professional Picture Together...And Every Year After...|