The Gift of Marriage
Marriage is the best thing I’ve ever done… and it’s the thing I’m most proud of. But, with that said, it’s also been extremely difficult at times… and super hard some days. There’s been mornings I’ve woken up, rolled over, and stared at the love of my life with such endearment. Thinking to myself, “How in the world do I get you to love forever?!?” Then, there’s been days, where I have felt completely suffocated, defeated, and overwhelmed with the thought of FOREVER with this man. This is marriage, my friends. And through the ups, downs, sorrow, joy, good times, and BAD… it has been so GOOD.
In 2015, we had two failed rounds of IVF… as many of you know. It’s hard to explain that loss. It was, in so many ways, devastating. I remember the feeling of extreme joy after our egg retrieval and how much HOPE we had as our little embryos were growing. I remember being so ecstatic that for the first time ever, Jared and I had these little bundles of DNA goodness that were half of him… and half of me.
I remember on the day of our transfer, they told us we had so many WONDERFUL embryos, they had a hard time choosing which ones to transfer that day. I was so thankful. I remember the ride home from Nashville, not wanting to move a muscle. I remember laying my hands over my belly and praying over those two precious bundles of joy constantly during those next two weeks. I kept the picture of those two little guys in my purse, and I carried it with me everywhere I went. I pulled it out and stared often, imagining a head full of dark hair and beautiful brown eyes like their daddy’s… they were my babies.
I remember clinging to my husband those two weeks… that some days the anticipation and wait was so dreadful, that all I could do was hide in his arms. I remember how close I felt to him and how we were both so silently hopeful. And, then I remember after.
I remember the phone call of devastation, and I called Jared at work to tell him. I remember his silence, which I perceived as cold. I felt like it was my fault. It was my body that failed… once again. It was me who couldn’t carry a baby… who couldn’t do something my body was created to do. Do you know how frustrating that is? Why did God give me a uterus if it can’t bear children?!? I remember that day when he got home from work. He didn’t come inside. He stayed outdoors. I laid on the couch with kleenex, watching sad movies… wallowing… and he was mowing the yard. Mowing, really?!? I remember thinking… “Do you even care?!?” How could he be anything but broken?
I remember the next two weeks. I remember his distance. I remember his unwillingness to let me in…to open up to me… to allow himself to fall apart with me. So, in turn, I fell apart alone. It was so hard. And, then, Jesus opened up my eyes.
Years ago, we got a puppy. He was like the cutest dog ever. Like EVER. He was a beagle/bassett mix, and we named him Memphis. He was the sweetest, and I loved him. We lived in a neighborhood, out in the country, and it was before we had a fenced in yard… and Memphis disappeared one afternoon when I let him out. I still get sad when I think about it. He was my sweet boy. I was so sad when he was gone. The not knowing what happened to him made me sick to my stomach. Jared loved him too. In fact, it was really Jared’s dog. And, when he didn’t come home, after we called all over town, and went to the humane society looking for him… I fell apart. I cried and cried… and was so upset about that dog. And while I laid across the bed, unraveling, you know what Jared was doing? He was mowing the yard.
You see, just because my husband didn’t grieve the same way I did, doesn’t mean he didn’t grieve. He lost two embryos too. He was mowing the yard when we lost a puppy… and years later when we lost those two precious embryos… because he didn’t know what else to do.
Jared and I got to the other side of that grief… and we laugh sometimes now when we’re eating dinner in Nashville, that our frozen children are nearby. Our marriage truly is the best it’s ever been, and I love my husband more than I could ever think possible. I thank God for that. And I thank him for our infertility that has gotten us to this place. Through the sorrow, he has become more compassionate… and I have become more understanding. His heart has been broken too. As hard as it is for me to see my husband not be a father… it must be equally as hard for him to know he can’t protect his wife from the heart break. It must be crushing for him that I can’t have my dreams of motherhood become reality.
This is marriage. This is what it means when we learn to love someone the way Jesus does. So many couples divorce when they walk through extreme grief. And, to be honest, if we didn’t have Jesus, I don’t know where we’d be. When Jared was out mowing the yard, I was inside angry. Because he wasn’t grieving the way I felt he should. I’m sure his sobbing, broken wife, was no walk in the park for him. I’m sure it broke his heart worse seeing me like that.
I recently had a conversation with a girlfriend whom I adore… about marriage. She and her husband have been going through some hard times… and during our conversation she said, “I am just so mad. I’m mad that I have to be the one putting in all the hard work… That I’m the one working hard to pay for counseling sessions. I am the one paying for his sin.” I didn’t have much of a response in that moment… but a few hours later, as I was folding laundry, it dawned on me. I immediately picked up the phone and texted her, “Friend, you are paying for your husband’s sin. You are suffering for something HE did. He is 100% guilty, but yet you are the one who is paying for it. That’s the gospel my friend.”
Marriage is the the living gospel. Every. Single. Day. The purpose of marriage is to make us more like Jesus. That’s it. It is to learn to die to myself every single day…to put my husband’s needs in front of mine. And, what is so beautiful about this.. Is that if I am doing that, and Jared is too, then what an amazing marriage it will be. The sinful nature in our lives is to blame the other.. To hold our spouse responsible for our heart break. And they will no doubt break our hearts. We will also break theirs. But, when we are able to look at the cross, and let Jesus finish the work he started in our hearts… when we are able to realize marriage isn’t about my own needs being met… but choosing to respect and love my husband… even when he’s mowing the yard instead of holding me in my puddle of tears… that is when we not only become more like Jesus, but that’s when our marriage becomes the greatest earthly treasure in our lives.
I would rather live my entire life without children, and die with a husband who found Jesus in our marriage… than have 15 kids, in a miserable, Godless union, ending in divorce. My husband is God’s greatest, most perfect gift for me. And I am his. Think about that. That burly, hard-working, sometimes sweaty, wonderment of a man… he is a gift. A treasure from the Lord. And you… you are that gift for him. I think I’m gonna wrap myself in saran wrap, put a big bow on my head, and wait for my sweet hubby to come home… and celebrate God’s goodness.