More than what most marriages deal with in ten years ... or twenty... or even fifty.
It isn't a first marriage for either of us, and maybe because of that, or in spite of that, we are trying to make this one work ~ against the odds. We live in a society that makes it easy to throw away marriages, to walk away from relationships and people. I won't say that we didn't think about walking away from this one when things really got bad. I had copies of divorce papers ready to file ... but kept procrastinating getting them to the courthouse. His family kept encouraging me to file the papers ... as did mine. But we stuck it out ... fought it out at times ... and when it was all said and done we realized that we are together for the long haul. Our vows, said just to each other in front of a Texas Justice of the Peace with no family or friends to witness it, are vows we intend to keep. For better or worse. In health and in sickness. For richer or poorer. Vows which have been tested. Again and again.
God brought us together in spite of ourselves, and He has kept us together in spite of the world.
Because of things that happened in 2012, my husband and I have been separated geographically for almost a year now. We both made mistakes. Neither of us are perfect. For a time, it was almost too much for me to deal with. Our families live out of state, and were getting bits and pieces of information about what was going on from what we would share, and what was being embellished and exaggerated upon as news traveled the family grapevines. They've all jumped to conclusions, made assumptions, judged and condemned ... both of us. We are alone in our struggles ... except that we both know that God is always with us and will never forsake us.
None of our family or friends know everything we have been through in the past three years. A move across country, job stress, unemployment, health issues, cancer, the death of my uncle ~ my father's twin brother who stepped in as my "surrogate" father when mine died in 2007. The emotional impact that being away from my husband's children had on him. Loss of financial stability, the prospect of being homeless, loss of pets, separation ... things that neither of us handled very well. Everything has worked against us to bring us to our knees, to tear at us, and to try to drive us apart.
But God knows.
When we hit that wall going 1000 miles per hour, everything stopped for us. We were forced to face what we had, what we were about to lose, and what we wanted. We began to put our faith and God first in our marriage, and our lives. We cut ties with family and friends who never had anything positive to say about either of us. We stopped listening to what others think, and started listening to what God's word said and what each other said. We no longer react ... but instead we act with love. Kindness. Grace. Laughter.
Being apart forces us to communicate on a different level than what being face-to-face 24/7/365 can do. Questions asked in a letter may not be answered for days. A crisis today may be resolved in two days, but the letter telling about the resolution may not be received for eight days. We are learning to distinguish what is really important enough to be shared in a letter, and what is best saved for a face-to-face visit.
Even being together for what little time we can has become a lesson in grace and communication. We forgive more ... and faster. We laugh more. We talk more about dreams, goals, plans ... life.
I'm not saying that we won't face bumpy roads again in the future. That is just what life is at times. But I think that what these trials have done is put both of us together on solid ground. It has given us a foundation to stand on ... against whatever life throws at us again.
When we are together again ... in the same space and time ... we plan on renewing our vows. This time in a church, with God as our witness, and hopefully with family and friends who will bless us.
Until then ... we've been falling in love again ... and again ... and again.