As I've read through this now, about twenty-seven thousand times, I love where I've learned new things about him that I didn't know. I decided to underline those things, mostly because I want to remember what they were. Some of what he wrote grieves me - but in a way that I need to be grieved. This marriage thing is real. It is not all sunshine and butterflies and daisies. My husband can attest to that.
Without further ado....I give you some very real, raw and honest thoughts from this man I've been writing about this week.
My name is Todd and I'm the other half to Jennifer. I was asked to share what our marriage has been, what it's looked like, the up's and down's, etc. I have to be honest and say this might be hard for me. I don't really like to share with people I don't know, but here goes!
We have been married almost 6 years. I can say it has not been the easiest 6 years. I hope that it gets better as we continue on this journey. You already know some of what she dealt with a couple of months after we said "I DO". You never think that the "for worse" part would even come up that quick but it did.
I didn't know what to do. I knew she needed help and that I wasn't the one that could do it. It was driving me crazy inside and I just had to tell myself that it had to get better. But it didn't. I knew some of how her past had damaged her and I didn't want to add to that either. I told myself that I wouldn't quit. If anyone was going to quit, it was going to be up to her. To be honest, I wanted to leave. I didn't sign up for this and what she was going through and what she was putting me through. I felt trapped in a sense. I knew I loved her but it didn't make me feel any better though. My friends told me they felt for me but didn't know what I should do.
She got some help. I saw a change in her. I hoped that it would continue to get better. In some ways it did and in others it didn't. I retreated to what I knew. I had a hard time sharing (and still do to this day) what was going on inside of me. I learned really early in life that my feelings were not good enough to share with anyone. So I just stuff them deep inside of my heart and don't let anyone in. I have been hurt too many times in the past. I am learning how to open up and allow myself to feel and to allow her to see those feeling as well. I am still scared some days that she will just up and leave me because I don't do or say the right things.
We have had many good conversations since the "dark side of the force" showed up early in our marriage. I think I am pretty good at seeing what is going on, but being a guy, I want to fix it all and just put it behind me/us. I know how to fix some things but I have to realize the fact that I am not supposed to "fix" everything. That is God's job!
We still struggle and we are still fighting for our marriage. I know she doesn't think that a lot of the time but it is true (at least she doesn't think I am). Satan is out to destroy us but I am not going to just sit back and let him. I may not always fight well but I have been told that I am a warrior. I am just a tired warrior. Marriage is extremely hard work. I wouldn't change that fact. Anything that you have to work hard for, is something that you generally value more and don't want to lose.
A good marriage is full of talking and communicating. I don't do enough of it (and I am told that a lot). It drives her crazy. It makes her want to leave me. I would tell myself that I just need to listen really well and it should be okay. But, she tells me that she needs my words. I never thought my words were good enough. She was being starved for them and I cared, but still didn't think I was good enough.
I hated myself and sometimes I still do. I am glad that we have been able to share some really hard things about ourselves and things from our past. I am glad that God has given me a woman who is safe enough to share those things with and that she still hasn't left me.
I think a good marriage should have lots of passion (not just sex, although more is always good). Being that we are completely opposite, it is hard really hard to share the same passions. We try to show each other that we care about what the other person really likes in life but that is not easy. She loves to write, read, listen to loud music, sing, throw parties and the like. I love to hunt and fish. I listen to music but I am not stirred by it the way she is. I know she wishes that were different. I know other people probably wished that I was different, that I was more like them, and this would make them want me around more and be able to talk to me and accept me because I would be more like the rest of the family. I can't help that fact. God has just given me a passion for the outdoors.
One good thing that we do have in common is our passion for our friends and wanting true, honest, no holds-bar friendships. We want to be able to share authentic and real relationship with people. We hate it when people are fake and don't want to really share their lives. I know it is hard for everyone to do that, but that is what we are called to do. We need to help each other bear the burdens of life and to help each other in the battle.
There is more to this story of ours and maybe I will be asked to share more. I don't know. I LOVE MY WIFE very much and I hope we both continue how to struggle well and care for each other in the process. I hope we continue to learn how to love each other unconditionally and not to put expectations on each other that in reality, we know neither of us can ever meet.