I’m really excited that this Marriage IRL guest post series is starting to take off! I’m getting more and more interest and finding that people WANT to share personal stories about their marriages. I’m hoping to make this a weekly or bi-weekly series as I think we can all use the encouragement to know that we’re not the only ones who have to work at it in order to make our marriage successful.
If you have a story about a tough place in your marriage that you and your spouse fought through to keep your relationship intact, I’d LOVE to hear it! You may submit anonymously, or I can link back to your blog/website. If you’re interested, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or for more info!
Today I’m partnering with Tiffany from The Crazy Shopping Cart as she shares about how health issues have affected her marriage…but how it’s only made her marriage stronger.
Thank you Tiffany for sharing your story!
I once heard it said that the first year of marriage is always the most difficult. I always thought it meant my husband and I would argue with each other over where to squeeze the tube of toothpaste (from the end, duh), or which direction the toilet paper roll should go (over the top – always). And while we certainly had some squabbles over him eating the last of my favorite cereal (do NOT touch my Cinnamon Toast Crunch!), I never dreamed the biggest fight would be the fight for my life.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease a couple of years before my husband and I courted and were married. At the time, it was well-managed and caused me very few problems. I thought that as long as I took my medicine, it would be fine. I quickly learned otherwise – I was hospitalized 13 times in our first 9 months of marriage, and in 35+ times in the last six.
Needless to say, our six years of marriage have not been very typical! However, looking back, we wouldn’t change it for anything. There have been some hard, hard times, but they’ve made us stronger: both individually and as a couple.
I was so worried those first few months when it became apparent that my health had taken a permanent turn for the worst: worried that my husband would say, “Psh, this isn’t what I signed up for! See ya!” and walk out the door. On the contrary: he has never once complained. Not one single time. He hasn’t been resentful or blamed me……ever.
Instead, he and I have allowed these difficulties bring us closer together and help us grow. We’re at the point that we wouldn’t change a thing, even if we could. While it is still hard (after all, there is no cure for Crohn’s), we’ve learned a few things along the way that make these challenges a blessing as opposed to a stumbling block.
Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned on how to handle big problems:
1) Keep perspective.
When you’re in the middle of a difficult trial, you almost put blinders on. It’s easy to just focus on the problem and hand and ignore everything else around you. The problem with that is that it makes the problem seem overwhelming. When you can take a step back and look at the whole picture, it makes it easier.
When I have to go to the hospital at 2am and then I’m admitted for a week, it can seem overwhelming to call someone to come watch the kids, figure out work schedules, etc. But compared to our entire lives, what is a week? Or if I’m having a day that’s really, really hard full of pain, I remind myself that this will end. It has to. No matter how long each individual second feels, it’s really only a second.
2) Choose to act, not react.
When my husband is woken up at 2am to take me to the hospital, it would be so easy for him to be grumpy, impatient, and short. Instead, he takes a moment and considers the situation. Only then does he respond. Similarly, if I’m having a high-pain day and he comes home late from work, I take a minute to think before I welcome him home. This has taken a lot of practice, but it makes it so we feel like we’re a team as opposed enemies. We’re fighting a battle together against whatever trial we’re facing; we’re not opposing sides in a three-way war.
Communication is key. It really, really is. Communication is more than just talking: it is conscious effort to constructively discuss a situation. Anyone can “communicate” by arguing, venting, or stressing. Real communication is when we keep our tempers and discuss how we’re feeling.
For the last two months of my first pregnancy, my husband’s yawn drove me insane. I was ready to kill him each night when he would yawn whilst telling me about his day at work. It occurred to me one day that he had no idea of the internal struggle I was facing. However, I knew that if I tried to talk to him about it when it happened, I would probably make him feel bad and guilty by snapping out, “Could you please stop yawning! You’re driving me crazy!” Instead, I waited until a time when I wasn’t feeling annoyed and said, “Hey, this may sound really silly and it’s probably just hormones, but it really, really bothers me when you yawn while you’re talking. I know it’s not a big deal, but it’s starting to feel like a big deal to me.” This way, I felt better by expressing how I felt without it coming at the expense of his feelings.
4) Be willing to adapt.
Many times, large trials will bring permanent changes to our lives. When we try to “hang on” to what we were in order to not lose ourselves, it can cause more problems and make the challenge more difficult. I’d had an ideal of how I would be as a wife and mother. My health makes it impossible to live up to that ideal.
My husband does more of the chores and childcare than we’d planned, and he’s also unavoidably had to give up a few professional and educational goals in order to accommodate my needs. I had to learn how to coupon so we could pay medical bills, which is something I never though I would do. But the more willing we are to make changes in what we do or who we are, the smoother the process goes.
Probably the greatest piece of wisdom that I’ve learned through this is that ANY challenge, no matter how big, can either break us or make us stronger. Couponing, for example, went from me saving money to actually earning money by creating a blog where I teach others how to save! My husband’s career adaptions has given him more satisfaction than he could have gotten if he’d tried to pursue his prior goals. The difference lies in our attitude. When we face a difficult trial, we have to keep our perspective, choose how to act, communicate with our partner, and adapt to the changes that have come our way. If we can do that, then we can grow instead of break.
Tiffany is a former math teacher and SAHM who loves finding good deals! She and her husband, who is an engineer, work together on The Crazy Shopping Cart. They enjoy spending time with their family, geeking out over sci-fi together, and saving money.
You can find Tiffany at her blog, The Crazy Shopping Cart, and also on social media:
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