After 48 excruciating hours of labor, we were finally bringing our baby girl home. I remember reading What To Expect When You’re Expecting and Your Pregnancy Week By Week trying to learn about all the changes my body was going through. I remember taking a Bradley Method class trying to prepare myself for what labor and delivery would be like. I remember reading all the materials the hospital gives you about what to do when you bring your baby home. But there were no books, no articles, and there was no advice given on how keep your marriage thriving after having a baby. Selah was home, but somewhere in the process I lost my husband.
Jonathan and I were married on June 25th, 2011. We stood on a stage in a beautiful historic building, surrounded by our closest friends and family. We spoke our vows to one another, making promises that were easy to keep at the time:
I promise to encourage and inspire you; to laugh with you, and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle. I promise to love you in good times and in bad; when life seems easy and when it seems hard; when our love is simple, and when it is an effort. I promise to cherish you, and to always hold you in highest regards.
Our marriage was easy, as our relationship had always been. Our apartment was incredibly small, so it was easy for the two of us to clean. We were both working, so there was no worry about a bill going unpaid. We didn’t have anyone relying on us, so we had little to no responsibility. Every night we had together was quality time, and date nights happened quite frequently. Marriage, love, life; it was all easy.
And then we had a baby.
I would be feeding Selah, while Jonathan packed the diaper bag. Jonathan would be rocking Selah to sleep, while I was putting yet another load of baby clothes into the wash. One of us would be giving Selah her bath, while the other attempted to make a hot meal for dinner. Whatever time we had alone together, was spent catching up on sleep or catching up on the ridiculous amount of house work that had been piling up since Selah’s birth. Even though we were around each other all day long, we would go days without ever talking. Suddenly, our relationship was not so easy anymore.
I missed my companion; the one I chose to do life with. I missed the person whom I would have long philosophical discussions with over French-pressed coffee. I missed the person who I would watch a good old zombie movie with, and laugh at the cheesy gore. I missed the person who I would car dance with at a red-light, and have absolutely no shame or regard over who would see. I missed my husband. And unfortunately, I bought into the lie that because our love wasn’t easy anymore, it meant we were in trouble.
The truth is though, that what we were going through were not signs of a troubled marriage; they were the moments when marital vows become reality.
It was easy on our wedding day to stand facing each other, promising to love through it all when we had barely built a life together, or even experienced much life for that matter. Naively I thought that because our first year of marriage was so easy, and because our entire relationship had been easy, that meant marriage would stay easy too.
Then life happened.
We had a baby. Date nights became few and far between. We went down to one income, and the stress of finances became overwhelming. The responsibility of caring for someone’s well being weighed heavily upon our shoulders. Our lives were no longer easy, and our love was no longer simple. But this is when we had to make the decision to walk out our vows; to love when it is an effort, when life seems hard, and when times are bad.
So to those of you who are single: if and when you get married, don’t take your wedding vows lightly. When life becomes difficult–and believe me it will–that’s when you have to make your promises become reality.
And to those who are married, and life has already been crashing in on your marriage, these are the moments that your vows were made for!