Marriage is one of the most humbling, sanctifying journeys you will ever be a part of. It forces us to wrestle with our selfishness and pride. But it also gives us a platform to display love and commitment.
The first few months was a tumbleweed of arguments and fights revolving around the dumbest things. Mostly, it was two sinners acclimating to living in one small space together.
I was so mad that you left a pile of clothes on our bedroom floor. It was as if you expected me to pick it up for you. “You’re 27 and you can’t even put your own clothes away,” I remember sputtering through incredulous tears.
That was rough.
And then Lyme happened. You had to help me put on my clothes some mornings. You’d walk up the stairs behind me to make sure I didn’t fall. You’d wait outside the shower in case I couldn’t step out of the tub by the end of it.
I’d try to keep a stiff upper lip for our friends and family, but only you would see me immobile on the couch, arms stuck in T-Rex form or ankle swollen to the size of a cantaloupe, sobbing about not being the first-year wife either of us imagined.
That was our first trial together.
And then you were laid off. I continued working busily, writing manuals and filming video tutorials. That was when we both realized different seasons require different roles. I realized it was my job to bring home the bacon — work wasn’t just a fun hobby anymore. You realized it wasn’t fair to not do some housework during the workday.
Remember when you got the job in Hermitage? I was so proud of you! I still am…
I remember looking for apartments. We wanted so badly to find a living space between your job in Hermitage and my job in Pittsburgh. But Hermitage won out because we ran out of time and options. I drove three hours in a day, three days a week. That wasn’t fun at all.
You realized this, and told me to find another job.
That was my last technical writing job.
I don’t think either of us realized how much I love working, how much I love writing manuals and online help and web content and proposals. But we were hoping for a family together. We had started planning for baby Hunters after our first anniversary, and I eagerly awaited for something to do with my time besides job searching.
We found a church north of Youngstown — a gospel-preaching, Bible-believing church. We were so excited. Remember our first visit? How we felt we belonged? It was like a family reunion, the way church services should be.
I think you eased into friendships at church more quickly than I did. I was the odd woman out. It was as if the women in the church didn’t have time for a married introvert with no children, unless said married introvert with no children was willing to babysit their own brood. Perhaps it was all in my head. But you were the only one I told, and you were the only one who understood.
This church wanted to plant in downtown Youngstown. How convenient, you shared excitedly with me, because I’ve been looking at homes in the Youngstown area.
I found the Youngstown Business Incubator. I pursued interviews with small software companies and their CEOs. I even met the CEO of the Incubator himself. All he wanted was a software idea. Remember my idea? It was pretty great, we thought. He and his interns didn’t really think so. I shuffled home from that meeting with my imaginary tail between my legs. I remember really wanting a milkshake.
We eventually bought a house here in Youngstown. Remember how excited we were? Well, I was more excited than you. But we both loved this old house. We fell in love with it. We saw its potential. We were still hoping for children, 15 months after our pact to strive for a family, and could see ourselves filling the old home’s halls with pitter-pattering bare feet and family traditions.
Remember all the wallpaper stripping? The carpet lifting? The gigantic dumpster we rented and filled to the brim with garbage the previous owners left behind? Remember how often I defended our purchase to you? I think you caught on quicker than I did. I was still holding out hope. I was still fighting for what we wanted.
That was the basis of most of our arguments. The house. The lack of jobs. The stress. The elbow grease. Actually, I think it was mostly the dog. You’re a cat person, but, first and foremost, a firm believer in no pets at all.
I got a job shortly after we moved. It seemed promising. They liked me a lot. I did my job well. And then, without any reason except I “wasn’t a good fit for the company”, they dropped me like a hot potato. Remember how I was at home, dog sick with a monstrous cold my coworkers had passed around like a plate of brownies, and they called me and told me not to return to the building for my belongings?
I still don’t have my black fleece jacket they promised to mail back to me.
So I scooped up a job at Burlington Coat Factory. I was happy to be doing something with my life. But before I even started on my first day hanging clothing and stocking shelves, we found out that our church plant wasn’t going through? Our pastor and his family were resigning and scooting out of town? I not only had a clogged Fallopian tube, but your tests didn’t come back so hot, either? That our doctors and nurses and midwife all sorrowfully related to us our extremely poor chances at having our own children?
You dealt with it like a champ. You were saddened. You weren’t unaffected. But, like the calm, steady, reliable man you are, you were immovable. Your faith and trust in God’s will was unshaken. You were and are like a tower, a strong pillar.
And my emotions beat heavily upon my strong pillar like a hurricane. In true Pinkerton form, I hid my emotions until I spiraled head-first into a kind of depression. I loathed myself, I despised my life, I preferred to be dead.
I think that hurt you more than it ever hurt me.
And here we are, knocking on the door of our third year anniversary. We’re ragged and worn. I get phantom Lyme seizures in my joints sometimes. You get chest pain from stressing about our bank accounts and the decisions we’ve made. We’re putting our house on the market in two months. We were going to move toward Pittsburgh again, but I have a job interview for technical writing just north of Youngstown and it’s the only response I’ve gotten so far, so we still have no clue where we’re going to live. We’re no longer members of any earthly church, but we’ve learned we have no desire to plant a church and will never again move away from job opportunities for the sake of a pastor’s dream. We’re alright with not having children because, frankly, our dog is in heat and we’re getting a glimpse of what hormonal teenagers are like.
We’ve fought tooth and nail, mostly as a result of my unhinged and unhindered emotions. I’ve sinned greatly against you, with seething words and overwhelming temper, and you’ve forgiven me unconditionally. We’ve both recalled with fondness the freedom and carefree life of singleness, and then found comfort and understanding in each other’s company.
It’s no wonder non-Christian couples call it quits after a few years. Marriage is no joke.
But I’ve found a Christ-like companion in you, my Mister, and I can’t imagine surviving the past three years with anyone else. So cliche, but it’s true.
I love you.
There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.