If You Ask Me Why I Stay

I usually create my blog posts weeks in advance unless I’m moved to write on the spot.

That being said, with my anniversary approaching this week, I’ve been holding onto a post that painted a pleasant (read: fake) picture of what my 15 years of marriage has looked like.

Then the month of August happened, and what started out great took a craptastic turn for the worst.

And that’s life, right? People deal with tragedy and trouble every day now, it seems.

You live. You work.

Maybe you get married, raise some kids.

You barrel through the tough stuff. You stick it out.

Or you don’t.

I think I’ve lived long enough to begin to understand something about life and marriage: It’s not so much about getting what we want as it is accepting what we have.

My husband is a wonderful, caring, loving spouse. He really is. He is a fabulous provider and an amazing father to our children. (Not to mention I still think he’s crazy hot.)

But he doesn’t give me what I need. He never has, and I’ve realized only in these last few months, he never will.

And the same is true for him; if I gave him all he needed to be happy, golf, fantasy sports and the thousand other distractions he holds would be completely unnecessary.

That is pure and simple truth, and I won’t sit here and paint our marriage or marriage itself in a perfect or easy light. To do anything other than tell the truth about how incredibly hard some seasons are would be an injustice to those who struggle.

Anyone married longer than five years knows there are high highs and low lows to be experienced in the joining of two imperfect people.

And I’ve learned that most of the time, highs and lows don’t occur in a separate vacuum. They intertwine, like fabric sewn on a quilt of life.

Patches of good times and happy memories threaded together with cords of discontent and disappointment.

Marriage is an oh-so-sacred space between two people. Though Clayford and I have shared pieces of our story with some, no one fully knows all of our highs and lows.

What I can share with you is this: If you think problems magically disappear after you’ve said your vows and paid the bill for that gorgeous wedding and tossed your bouquet to the bridesmaids, you are so so wrong.

That wedding is one day of what can become an incredibly long journey. One you may decide you’re not up for after all. 

And to be honest, it’s not for me to say what makes a couple stay together. I believe divorce can be a good thing, I really do, so it’s not for me to say if you should or shouldn’t stick it out.

But I’ll tell you one reason besides loving my husband that pushes me to fight for this marriage.

Four reasons, actually.

They lie on the trampoline in our backyard after they’ve exhausted every back flip from their tiny bodies. I sit in a chair at the top of the hill—they are at the bottom—and spot their smiling faces and hear their laughter as they look up at the trees.

I walk into their rooms and scoop a pile of clothes off the floor—they know I’ll do that. And I stop and chat with them about school and friends and grades. Clayford will often come behind me and place his chin on my shoulders. He’ll wrap his arms around my waist as we talk to two teenagers who will be on their own before we blink.

We’ll grab Little Caesars pizza on Sunday nights and catch up on our Wednesday shows—The Goldbergs is our favorite—and my heart will overflow with love as I sit and watch my children eat and laugh with their mom and dad.

Their parents are together—imperfectly, mind you, so very very imperfectly—and all the trials that come from switching houses, and doling out holidays, and meeting new moms and dads—even in good situations, stressful—are unknown to them.

I believe this kind of sacrifice—our temporary happiness for their overall security—is still worth fighting for. (I know there are many situations where divorce is needed and necessary so please understand I’m not talking about all marriages.)

There are a lot of lessons I want to teach my babies about life. (Hear me when I confess: I have BOMBED so much of the big stuff. I have royally screwed up in this marriage and parenting journey in so many ways.)

The biggest lesson I hope they learn is this: Marriage is messy and imperfect and not for the faint of heart. But if you stick it out long enough, you might receive the biggest reward this side of Heaven.

Will I succeed in teaching them this lesson? In gaining this reward? 

I hope so, of course. I don’t believe anyone goes into marriage expecting anything but forever.

But I don’t control the entirety of my future; that’s solely in God’s Hands.

And the most ironic and wonderful part of life is this thing we hold called GRACE.

As a child of divorce, I was given the greatest gift of accepting change, of rolling with the punches.

It’s a gift given only to children who have been through unbearable pain and uprooting.

And I’ve learned that some of the biggest blessings can be born from huge failures: I have family in my life I hold near and dear to my heart. They wouldn’t be here if not for my parents’ split.

All is not lost in divorce. We serve a God of redemption.

Still, if you were to ask me why I work so hard at marriage; if you asked me how I’ve made it through 15 years of ups and downs, I would tell you I have five good reasons to work on it.

Four of them hold my heart, these precious souls for whom I would do anything in this world.

The other is a phenomenal man who has shared memories with me no one will ever share.

And for now, they are reason enough for me.



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