Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Adversity is Our Strong Suit

For some couples adversity tears them apart: maybe the little things that chip away at their love until it falls to unsalvageable disrepair, or maybe a catastrophic event, some unthinkable tragedy that shatters the individuals and their love as well. And maybe some day that will happen to us. Never say never, knock on wood, and there are no guarantees.

But in our relationship, so far, adversity has been our strong suit. We are at our mightiest, our bravest, our most courageous, when it is us against the world. Our relationship is strongest, our love the most unconditional, when we are working through something that has proven to be the last straw for many couples who thought their love was forever. 

My first marriage ended when I least expected it, gone before I even realized it was in jeopardy. He was on to someone new while I was still planning our future together. 

My second marriage (this marriage) began before a future together was even a consideration. It began as we were parting ways in mutual agreement that our lives were headed in different directions. A rebound relationship for both of us, people at two different stages of life, heading toward different cities and new lives without each other. But then a new life brought us back to each other. We decided that we would be parents together. And, shortly after our child turned one, we got married. The three of us, committed to making a future together because we were a family now. 

Our little family grew, faster than planned, we were five lives connected forever. And here we are today, a family with three teenagers, already venturing into the world for longer periods of time. It’s only a matter of years, or months, or days, until they sever the last bit of umbilical cord and, untethered, float off into their own worlds. 

This week I realized, perhaps I had noticed it before, but this week it really stood out: what was true about us as a couple was true about us as a family. When hard times come our super power activates, and it is our love, compassion, and unwavering support for each other. Well, those things combined with a ridiculous sense of humor. 

I doubt we have seen our last hard day, our last challenge or struggle. But I look at all we have come through, together, and I have hope that, even if nothing else goes right, we have succeeded. Our family can stare down adversity, lift each other up, cheer each other on, cry together, and show each other compassion. Adversity is our strong suit. And while it sucks that we have had so many opportunities to prove that, to share in struggles together and grow closer in the process, it also fills my heart with love for us. We are an odd little family that doesn't really fit in anywhere, but we are really good at going through rough patches and finding ourselves, our relationships, that much stronger on the other side.   

1 comment:

  1. You fit in my heart. And I understand this...deeply.

    When Elijah died, we were told that 85% percent of marriages end if an infant dies. "But you guys are strong, and you'll be fine," the NICU nurse told us.

    And we are. Better than fine, as a matter of fact.

    When he died, we had a 22 month old baby, and we made our focus trying to give him as normal a life as we could (normal looked a lot different back then, but we outgrew it). We could be shattered, but we couldn't wallow in it, because he needed us.

    Part of our strength, I think, came from that, from baby Jeremiah who was also grieving, who needed his mommy and daddy.

    Another part was that we accepted, from the outset, that we were different people, had different relationships with Elijah, and that we would grieve differently. We didn't (and don't, almost twelve years later) always understand the flow of one another's grief, but we've always accepted and made room for it. I talk about Elijah more with other people than with Jim; it's painful for him to dwell too long or too often on those memories, while it's therapeutic to me...

    I've said many times that I knew I loved my husband all along, knew he was a good man, a man well suited to my particular brand of oddness, that I knew we would have good times together, and that he'd be a good dad.

    But what I didn't know back at the beginning was that, when the tragedy we never saw coming struck, there was no one else I could imagine by my side, supporting me, and letting me support him.

    After that, there just doesn't seem to be anything that's worth walking away over. We found something in ourselves, and we've built on it, since....

    I'm going to link this post in my Second Serving Sunday post next week, because I love it that much! <3

    And for that last paragraph - all the hugs.