• Nicole

Marriage Takes Heart

Back in October, I completed a writing challenge that prompted me to write about “Heart.” It also happened to be my 5-year wedding anniversary with my husband which inspired me to share these words. I’m posting them today in honor of 15 years together as a couple.

Marriage takes heart. And by this, I don’t mean date-nights and holding hands. I’m talking about the accountability, grit, and sacrifice that it takes to be committed to another person every day, even when your heart isn’t in it.

I’ve spent 15 years– that’s half of my life – with a man who I love deeply and sometimes loathe immensely. And I know, in his heart, he feels the same way about me.

Five years ago we decided to make it official. For better or worse, we were in this life together. And boy, has it been an adventure ever since.

Right out of the gate, we decided to test our marriage by purchasing our first home. And then ripping it apart to rebuild it ourselves. Our hearts were overworked and under stress. I know there were times we both thought a hammer would make a good murder weapon. And our happiness might have become slightly dependent on that work-break beer. But we made it through.

Many people told us if your marriage can survive a home remodel, then it can survive anything… and that’s good because then came Garrett. Two months early.

We were thrown into the deep-end of parenthood holding a 4lb preemie who couldn’t breathe or eat on his own yet. This tore our hearts wide open. For 5 weeks, I lived away from home caring for our new baby in the NICU while Joe drove back and forth to work when he could. We thought this was the hard part. We were wrong.

Colic, reflux, dairy intolerance, chronic ear infections, infant glasses, eye surgery, ear-tube surgery, severe teething and separation-anxiety – he was not a happy baby. He cried for hours. I should say, he screamed for hours. This was our first 16 months as parents.

Our hearts came together in a crucial way during this time. We’d sit in our bedroom at night and just stare at each other with a what-the-fuck-are we-going-to-do look in our eyes. We shared our deep, dark parent secrets; we missed the NICU nurses; we enjoyed work because we were alone; we envied our friends with their quiet, content babies. We were a great team, but truthfully, I think we only survived because Garrett slept through the night. He let our hearts rest and that’s what we needed most.

Also during this year, our first baby, our beloved dog, bit Garrett. We had to rehome her. To make matters worse, we didn’t agree on what we should do at first. This is when marriage takes the most heart; when the stress and the stakes are high, and no choice is a good one. The day we left Remi with her new owner, our hearts broke.

I think you all know where this story is heading… just as Garrett had finally stopped crying and Joe had started his own business and I was getting back in shape, feeling the best I had in years, cancer made our hearts stop.

As with every other hardship we’ve faced, this has brought us closer as a couple, but it’s also challenged us in new and unfamiliar ways. We process loss, fear, and stress differently. This makes it hard to find comfort together. Our partnership has become one-sided at times which is something neither of us likes to accept. There are things we resent and sometimes it’s difficult not to feel like one of those is each other

During the past five years, we’ve had amazing experiences together, lots of laughs with family and friends, and discovered so much joy as parents. Our hearts are truly full. But I wanted to share the hard stuff. The real stuff. Because this is just life. This is just marriage. And like I said before, it takes heart.