April 13, 2012

The Story of Us : Part 5

This is the big-daddy of them all.  The grand finale of all I've been writing this week about marriage and my life with Todd.

In the last few months, I've wanted to call it quits.  I've wanted to be done.  I have even contemplated divorce.  I have asked questions and thought thoughts I never imagined that I would.  In many ways, I feel like our marriage is hanging on by a thread.  It feels exposing to share this, but it's true.  

Yesterday, Todd referenced several times how he is almost waiting for me to pack up and leave and be done with us.  I felt myself gulp a bit when I hit the publish button on that.  But this is real and this is where we have found ourselves.  What he said was true.  I have wanted to leave and be done.  Close the book on our life together and just move on.

One of the reasons I wanted to write about marriage here, was because a lot of my heart has been consumed with these horrible feelings and fears that our marriage was coming to an end.  That our love story, full of these rich, deep moments - a few that I've shared here this week - was about to have it's very last chapter written. I wanted to write all of this down so that I would remember - the past, the scenes in our marriage that were life changing.  And that I would remember what this looked like and felt like - when we found ourselves in this hole.

Truth be told, I really needed to write all of this down for me and my heart. 

I have wanted to be honest and real and I (we) made the decision it was okay to share that here - with our friends, our family, with strangers we may never even meet.  Based on the e-mails and Facebook messages and comments that I've received this week - it was something that maybe I was meant to do. We are not the only ones struggling.  We are not the only ones who had a horrible first year.  We are not the only ones who are wanting to or have wanted to give up.  We are not alone.

I never imagined that I would consider divorce.  Not just because of what the church has to say about it, but because I come from divorce.  In a way, divorce made me, and I stood firmly in this place that what happened to my parents would never, ever happen to me. 

When my parent's marriage ended, it broke me.  Things like that hit all of us differently, but for me, it was this nearly fatal blow that took me out for years.  I was angry with God and I was angry with my parents.  I had no clue how I would ever find healing in that place or even be able to stop asking "why?"

Interestingly enough, God used all of the problems and issues that I was having with Todd to break down these hard, bitter parts in my heart that were there as a result of what happened with my parent's marriage.  Some of the icy, cold places in my heart, especially towards my dad, Robin, and my mom, all started to melt.  I found myself full of compassion and understanding.  I wasn't angry anymore that my dad and mom didn't stay married simply because it was the right thing to do or because it was biblical.

Something clicked there for me, and I found forgiveness and grace.  And a new-found understanding, love and appreciation for them, that honestly, I never expected to be able to have.  My thoughts and beliefs shifted too - about marriage, separation, divorce.  And I think they needed to change.  I was prideful and arrogant and judgmental.  All I know is that I have grace here for others, where I didn't have it before. 

I've been prideful and arrogant in my marriage too.  I've only been looking at where my husband disappoints me or lets me down, how he doesn't show up, where things feel hard, rather than seeing what I'm doing.  Where I am closed and cold toward him and the damage I've done these last six years to his heart.  It's not all him, and I think I was convinced that it was.

So I've been looking at my part in all of this.  Where I have wounded him.  Where I've broke him.  Where I'm responsible for the way things look right now.  Lately, I've been looking at where I am slow to extend grace and where I have hard time loving him for who he is now, rather than who I want him to be.

And I've been remembering the good too.  The places where Todd has shown up for me valiantly and bravely and the impact that has had on me.  How knowing him has enabled me to live more freely - his love, even in his brokenness, has brought me to life in so many ways.  My desire is to love him like that too.

I remember a phrase that we heard from some friends of ours a few years ago when they talked about how to move forward after conflict or really disrupting things that would come up in marriage.

Recommit and go again.

The other night, my husband and I were having another of our many talks about us and our future.  About another one of my disappointments I had with him. It was the night I first asked him what I had done, where I had hurt him and I just stayed quiet and listened.  That was the night I realized I needed to own up to my part too and commit to loving him with more tenderness and vulnerability than I have.

I decided that night, that even though so many of my thoughts, fears and questions have centered around wondering if we had reached our end, that I wasn't done.  Something reignited in my heart.  Hope was not lost.  I made the decision to recommit and go again.

Sometimes, I am afraid to love.  I am afraid to stay in this relationship, this union where there are no real guarantees.  Marriage, in all of it's beauty and glory and promise, is so fragile and needy.  As if any moment it could all fall apart and end tragically.  It's risky to be so vulnerable.  It feels foolish sometimes to keep trying and going when the odds seem so stacked against us.  I guess at the end of the day, I still believe that we are worth fighting for.  That we are made for each other.  That he is the man I still want to do life with.  That it's not just marriage I believe in - I believe in our marriage.

One of the things I love most about us is that Todd isn't afraid to be foolish and silly with me.  We play, we laugh and we still enjoy each other - even with all of the tension, raw honesty and hard places - there is still time for laughter and life.  The pictures below are of us in the last year - the same year that we've been struggling.  There were still moments that were full and happy and full of hope.

My hope is that there will be time for more car dancing and water fights in the kitchen.  I hope for more flirting and hand-holding.  More playing, more kindness, more real conversation.  More enjoying and being enjoyed.  

So this is our story.  It belongs to us.  We have both decided it's a story that we don't want to write the ending to just yet.  And with hope and help and grace and God, there will be many, many more pages to fill.

"It's the possibility that keeps us going.  Not the guarantee."  - Nicholas Sparks
"Sometimes it takes a really good fall to know where you stand."  - Hayley Williams
"It's supposed to be hard.  If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great."    - A League of Their Own
"True love doesn't come by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person, perfectly."  - Unknown
"Be curious.  Not judgmental."  - Walt Whitman
"Anyone can be passionate.  But it takes real lovers to be silly."  - Rose Franken
"Let me recklessly love you, even if I bleed.  Because you're worth all of me...."


  1. Frank and Michelle had a song in their wedding that I don't know the title of, but it had a line about "not safe, but worth it". I've always thought that pretty well sums up a relationship with the right person. You have to be willing to admit the not safe part, always remembering and trying to focus on the worth it part.

  2. this is a beautifully honest post...and I got chills at the part where you said..."I guess at the end of the day, I still believe that we are worth fighting for. That we are made for each other. That he is the man I still want to do life with. That it's not just marriage I believe in - I believe in our marriage"

    that's really what it's all about, that no matter what you're going through you decide that it's worth fighting for.

    i'm saying a prayer for you girl, that this post would be the start of a new adventure for you & Todd.

  3. I love how raw, truthful, and beautiful these posts have been, Jennifer. It's really refreshing. It takes a lot of courage to be so open and honest, and you and Todd should pat yourselves on the back. Seriously. By sharing your story, I'm sure there will be plenty of other couples who will relate. You've reassured them that they're not alone, there are other people who are going through similar hard times. How wonderful.

    Just remember to stay honest with yourself and with each other. ALWAYS stay positive, and as long as there's that fire in your belly to fight, stick with it and give it your all. Believe in your happiness, believe you deserve what's best, and do whatever you can to achieve those things.

    Sending positive vibes your way. I pray that you and Todd can continue to work through this, and that the fight still burns within your belly's xoxo

  4. Thank you for sharing your story, Thank Todd too.
    I have been there where you were. Last summer,our annual beach vacation was absoulutely miserable for me. That year we got the room that has two double beds. So we agreed to sleep in both beds and then one kid could sleep w/ each parent. It was at that point when neither us made the attempt, not once to move the kids to 1 bed at least 1 night, so we could at snuggle,I knew our marriage had finally had hit a major road bump. That & the fact my he spent 4 of the 7 days playing golf for 6 hrs each day, leaving me w/ the kids all day long. A real fun vacation for me,when I suggested that us girls have a girls day, they turned the idea down, & I found myself angry but more than ever depressed. My vacation had been ruined. To top it all off, my husband had not once said he loved me the whole trip. Sadly he didn't even say it on the one day of our trip that was most important, my birthday.I woke up the next morning depressed. Our already rockey marrieage was heading for disaster. The whole morning I locked myself in the room,while I laid on the bed in tears.I eventually talked him, telling him that a mountain of feeings were making me depressed but that mainly it was the crappy time I was having.I told him how upset I was too about him being gone all the time, etc.It didn't end well at all. It made it worse for the remaining 2 days left of our vacation. When we got home after traveling 12 hours both our attitudes were on the fringe. So naturally it all came out again,& I said at that point, I was no longer happy in a one sided marriage. That if he loved me, he should show me.I knew like you did too it wasn't all his fault. I knew that my attitude toward him was pretty crappy too.But I think it was for 2 reasons.1 because he was barely paying attention to me, & 2 because I was very unhappy about my weight. So I of course, rubbed my misery onto him. We still had times of fun and laughter,& that had kept our marriage hanging on by its thread, but those few occasional times of happieness were not enough for me to go on. So I started packing my bag,God I am tearing up all over again just thinking about it.I balled the whole time while doing it,& then after I packed my bag,I went out and told the kids I was staying at Granny's for the night.I was no longer crying as I didn't want them to be upset. I was hoping they would just think it was because I wanted to see her. But they could see right through me. They knew my hurt, they had already heard us fighting & seen me crying. It was breaking their hearts. But I knew I had to get away,&fast.My husband saw how hurt all 3 of us were & he begged me to go into out room to talk. I of course said no at first because I felt like he wanted to resolve our issues only after seeing how upset the kids were. But when he started crying too, I knew he loved me more than he was willing to admit.We spent 2 hours talking.At the end of it all, we decided to give it 1 more shot. I had also told myself that I had to lose weight. I felt like it had been the barrier between us. I think he was less attracted to me (even though he'd never admit it to me),& my attitude because of the weight had been projected on him, causing him to be distant. Almost a year later now, our marriage is a lot stronger. My husband now tells me constantly he loves me & is more affectionate then ever.Even though it was a horrible time of our marriage, I am so glad it happened. It has brought us together so much closer, but it has also helped me to lose 60 pounds. I am happier than ever,& that has helped our relationship, but also my relationship with my kiddo's too, since I am a less grouchy mom.
    Check out this song, like me you'll relate to it a lot too.
    Thanks for letting me share,

  5. oh- wow. so much. yall are beautiful. thank you for being yourselves, for fighting.
    and i have to say this: you remind me of rosie o donnell in that one pic where both of your mouths are open. its hilarious, and i love it. thats my favorite one. todd looks like he just woke up. its great.