Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nobody Ever Said Marriage Was Easy

And if anyone did then they are either unmarried, about to marry, or one of those .002% of couples who have total marital bliss.  For that, I feel I should be honest to the best of my ability, and not to sugar coat this. I think many people who go through what we have been through may find comfort in knowing they are not alone and not unique.

It shouldn't come as a surprise (but maybe it will to some) but having gone through everything that we have been through in this past year and less, our marriage took a serious toll. I remember reading once that it was about 70% of married couples who lose a child end up getting a divorce. Initially I thought that idea was ubsurd--I mean how could you go through something so heartwrenching as losing a child and then see your entire family crumble to pieces? It's not those first moments that usually tear you apart. It's what is said, not said, done and not done over the next few days, mostly weeks, and then months that are what start to create a wedge.

Having a child already can put a bit of strain on the marriage.  Sleepless nights, exhausted mommiess and daddiess, disagreements about parenting methods (yes-even those ones about how to change a diaper or WHO is to change the diaper for that matter), and the general change of lifestyle make a noticeable impact on the relationship you once had with your spouse. Add anything else into the mix and you have a recipe for conflict.

 In our case we already had a son who was just over a year when I got pregnant again. I end up being pregnant with twins which put a considerable amount of burden on my body well before the belly started to bulge. From that point it only continued to get more challenging. I started to rely on Cameron's help more and more as the babies grew within and I was no longer able to safely do typical mommy tasks. THEN add the fact that I was going to MOVE to the States from Japan alone with my toddler son and twins in belly. Thank God we were going to Albuquerque--my home town. Cameron stayed behind  weeks to close us out of our house and do the majority of the move process. It wasn't but 10 days before the boys were born that Cameron even arrived in the states! Our house was empty. I was MISERABLE. I could not get more than 40 minutes of sleep at a time. Then the boys were born. Jeremiah had no heartbeat. Micah was born 10 weeks far too soon. Either way I was empty handed, with an empty womb from a beautiful pregnancy that ended in tragedy far too early. Torn by grief, shock, suprise, guilt, I could not find one place that felt right. I was either with Micah in the hospital, at home with Isaac and my family, or anywhere and everywhere that my baby boy Jeremiah was not. Our major home good shipment from Japan arrived the Monday--thats 4 days-- after the boys were born. All this was like the largest, most emotionally and mentally destructive tornado we had ever imagined to hit our lives. We were completely turned upside down. What was already a challenging and somewhat stressful situation (moving, expecting twins, new job for the hubby) had been multiplied ten fold.

No surprise then, that we had some issues. Now, for honor of my husband I will not go into great deal as to what was said in those days, weeks, and months. And I will say that the initial first few days my husband and I were very supportive and comforting of each other. We did the best we could. I definitely felt like I had to be there for my husband when he did not know what to do with himself.  Yet as time passed it got harder as our different ways of dealing with the situation became a source of contention and hurt.

As a women, we have revisit and reevaluate our experiences and grief.  Men, I believe since I can't think like one, tend to want to have things be fixed, solved, and over with. I don't think they feel comfortable in their emotions, especially the emotions of grief related to losing a child. For that reason, I do not believe my husband was able to continue on the way he wanted to because there was no way to ignore the sheer pain of losing Jeremiah. His task was complicated by having to start a new job on a new aircraft after all that we had endured. For that, I tried to give him my best understanding. Still, it does not erase the seemingly cold-hearted comments. The anger that ended up being directly solely in my direction. The insensitive notions. The pressure that was put on me to complete the irrelevent tasks, that I believe he thought would help him feel better. An example of that would be how he stressed, "pinged", and complained about how we HAD to get our boxes unpacked. I was exhausted. I was bouncing back and forth between NICU and home, recovering from twin pregnancy and twin BIRTH, and of course all the fatigue and depression I was battling as my hormones nose-dived and as my grief sunk my heart and soul into the depths of despair. I saved all my energy to be there for my son in the NICU. To be there and be as joyful as possible for Isaac, who God Bless his soul, had no real idea why mommy was suddenly gone so much and so much more sad.  I just did not have it in me to fight back and defend myself against the misguided will of my husband. 

And then there is that. The very fact that I had to defend myself against my husband--the one who should be there for me as a protector and companion and instead became my enemy during these trying times, created the deepest cutting wounds in my marriage to date by far.  As a result, I turned to avoidance, distance, shielding, and general complacency when it came to matters between my husband and I. Whenever I noticed the complaining and nagging (which is what I felt it was) starting up I would walk away before he could finish his thoughts. I had no more tolerance. No more patience. No more energy. I felt defeated. My heart was as raw as raw could get. How is it then that my very own husband was pulling whatever was left intact to itty bitty pieces. The trust was gone. And it continued well after Micah came home from the hospital. My heart learned over and over that it could no longer even handle to be vulnerable again--maybe never. I knew that it was the Enemy trying to kick us hard when we were already down but at that point I didn't care why it was happening. I didn't want to endure any more emotional pain.

Now, this is not to say that I never did anything to him. Yes I spoke unkind words. Yes I lost my temper a time or ten. Yes I did start pushing him away. I still felt justified. I still do looking back. Maybe not for everything I did, but when I consider how much I had to do and how much I actually was doing for my family and especially my children, you just can't blame me for defending and protecting myself. It was the only way to survive.

Needless to say, we've had a rough go these last seven months. All this damage in the first 5 months or so was, and is, hard to recover from. As my hope, trust, and patience was nearly burried beyond oblivion, I started to live a guarded life. As I became more guarded, more callous and practically uneffected my husband (who was now also recouping from the loss of Jeremiah as well as adjusting to his new job) now felt he wanted to mend our marriage. He truly put in hard thought effort to do what he thought needed to be done to fix it. But for me, it was almost too late. He didn't really get it, as most men don't.  He was to focused on the present, i.e. our lack of emotional let alone physical intimacy. But what I needed was healing from what caused it. It took a long time and many painful discussions to bring these things to the surface. And it took many times before my husband really began to understand. Now it came the time for me to forgive. Forgiving is never easy, especially when your sinning husband (I however am perfect and never sin ;) ) continues to make many of the same mistakes, albeit less intense. My guarded heart did not want to let go.

I could go on and on with details and probably write a novel about what a rough journey we have been on this past seven months. I will say however that it was not by my own power that I was able to forgive my husband and move forward. I regularly had to ask God to help me. Help me forgive. Help me make the right choice. Help me actually reach out to my husband even when I rather push him away further and further from my broken, trampled heart. We had to move forward, for us and especially our children. I still loved and love my husband even when I felt too distant and shielded to care if I did or not.  Forgiveness and strength, given only to us by the Lord himself, are what have helped us through this rough patch--okay maybe it's more of a trecherous field as opposed to a "patch".

Today, I feel like I can feel the light again. It's like we are walking out of the cave of marital darkness and into the sun again. Let me tell you, it feels so good to have the warmth of the sun shining on my face again.  (Cue Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now") I know we aren't done mending our relationship--it is a process, and yes I know there will be many trials again to endure. However I feel pretty confident that we have finally turned the corner for the better and I am really beginning to feel close with my husband again. The moral of the story for me is that it's ok to stand your ground to protect yourself but it is just as important to constantly pursue peace and to reestablish trust--and to keep God with you every step of the way.


  1. Maddie, the other day on fb I told you I died in 1987, well that was the year I was married. As I read your story it's clear to me you've been through more heart ache than most will endure in a life time. But the thing is, no matter how easy or hard our lives may be, marriage is a daily exercise of dying to self. The process is two fold, first we consider others needs ahead of our own. Second, we forgive them for needing this. Truly to forgive is divine, it is not in or of us apart from God. You will never regret forgiving, especially our most cherished loved ones and friends. Men want to fix things, and when they can't they become frustrated. Your very wise to learn this early. Your a remarkable young woman. May the Lord make his face upon you and give you peace. Truly He has a future and hope for you and your family. love you. barb

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Oh Maddie, you have such soul. Such strength, heart, and compassion...somehow after reading this post, my heart is able to both break for you and sing for you...
    Not only are you enduring unbelievable struggles & celebrating your triumphs, you are graciously willing to share them as well...this is courageous and rare...and entirely commendable. <3
    You have a gift, Maddie. Both in your writing, and in God with your family. <3
    Thinking of you. xoxoxo

    (Also, I believe you give FAR too much credit to those who claim total marital bliss, lol...those marriages simply do not exist...not a single one, hehe!)

  4. Women like me only wish we could be as strong as you. Hang in there mama, sounds like you guys are heading in the right direction

  5. Maddie, thank you for exposing yourself so honestly. It's tough to open up in such a way, but you may never know how it might help someone else. And I agree with the above statement that there is no perfect marriage. It takes constant effort...that is the reality. I'm so thankful and excited that the bitter is slowly passing so you can begin to taste the sweet again. Love you dear friend!

  6. What a great post. I've often thought about you and your family and wondered how all of this was impacting you guys. I'm glad to hear things are on the mend and will continue to pray for healing and understanding for you both.