Children scattered around the house. Yo Gabba Gabba singing from the backroom. Standing in the kitchen, I wonder how I got here with a husband and blended family. I have been with my husband for 8 years. The last two of those years we have been happily married. We met shortly after I moved to Columbus Ohio. He was the end of a long ride of love, pain, drugs and self-destruction.
You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been
I started this ride with my best friend Chrissy. Through each other, we met the two men we would be with for almost a decade. My first romantic relationship best described as passionately naive. I remember sitting across from him gazing into his eyes holding his hand at a small little cafe in Huntington, West Virginia. Our waitress, in her white button up shirt and a huge smile, says “May I ask, how long have you guys been together”. I responded back with an equally big smile, “We been together for a few months, now.” The waitress replies “You guys look so sweet and in love like you been together forever.” Remembering how our love brightened up the little West Virginia cafe is a peaceful memory.
It was only two years into our relationship when our serenity ended. Our best friends took their last breaths on Interstate 64.
A truck had crossed the interstate into head-on traffic. My two best friends, who had been together for a couple of years, along with her mom and little brother died instantly as the engine from the truck landed on their car. My true soul mate, my best friend since second grade, she was gone. Chrissy and I had a friendship no earthly words could describe. Her boyfriend, my first love’s best friend, my friend, he was gone. Their child was parent-less.
The four of us had a strong bond tying us together through joys and heartaches. We celebrated the birth of their child together. My best friends in and out of the hospital with me for surgeries after almost losing my life and barely keeping my leg from my own horrible car accident. Death was the only one who could separate us. Not only did death take away my best friends, also from my first love. Devastated by the pain of losing so many, I couldn’t cope. My first love stood strong and tall; yet, inside he was falling apart too. I turned to alcohol and he turned away. We tried holding on to each other for another five years. Those five years were a haze of alcohol and self-destruction.
Once apart from each other the haze faded away. We were able to move on to better places. We both have amazing children who we love more than we could have ever loved each other. I was lucky enough to marry an amazing father and husband. I once quoted a line from “Fools Rush In“ to my husband “You are everything I never knew I always wanted.” as my own; at least until he watched the movie. We have joked about this for years. It was even in my wedding vows. It was my journey through love, loss, and pain that lead me to my husband.
“Love, truly is every emotion that exists all balled up into one.”- Jason a man in love.
The journey of love is filled with ups and downs, which if allowed, can mold us into a better person. These lessons are sometimes learned through tears. Shelley shares how she learned to treat every day like a page out of a fairytale. Love and loss taught her to appreciate the very sound of her husband’s heartbeat and his every breath.
She learned these things from her son’s father. She absolutely adored this man. He was a good father to their son and her girls. She tells us “I was happy”. Juggling work, school, and kids, she didn’t see the beginning of the end. Regretfully, she admits “I didn’t notice very obvious signs that who I came to love, made my best friend, and shared my life with became addicted to drugs”. By the time she noticed, it was too late. The nonsense of being with a drug addict became too much for her. After 7 years together, she left him. A month later, he committed suicide. She learned later he began this battle of addiction before they ever met. He lost the fight leaving her to cope with the hurt and ache of such a tragedy.
“As I grieved, I felt the need to never again take love for granted and be more involved emotionally in my next relationship.”
Just as she promised herself, she committed completely to her
husband engulfing herself in his love. They danced and celebrated life together putting God and family first. In a sense, life was like a fairy tale. She lived happily ever after.
Not all journeys through love require loss to understand it’s power. The power of love gave Amy the reason to live. Before she met her partner, she was very ill. Amy says “I had a severe eating disorder and very irresponsible, refusing hospital treatment.” After falling in love, she gained the courage to get better. With love in her life, there was hope. After two rounds of treatment, her health improved enough to have a daughter. The joys of motherhood only capable with the power of love from a partner who taught her the value of herself and motivation to live life.
“There is no simpler way to put it. The love he gave me, gave me the will to live”- Amy a woman saved by love.
Life can be difficult without loss of loved ones, accidents, illness and other mountains to move. If you find the right person, life with someone is better than life alone. Everyone has their own unique journey to take, none like the other.
“Love is unselfishness.” – James a man married for 42 years.
Sarah, a wife, a mom and blogger of all things creative has had love help her with insight, sympathy, and so much more.
“I’m much, much, more patient now. I react less and consider another’s perspective before doing so”
Love alone isn’t what keeps her marriage going.
“I really see how communication is work, thereby understanding when people say ‘marriage takes work’”
No amount of love can keep a relationship going all by itself. Jessica Orwig summarized three keys factors to a successful, flourishing marriage from The Suffocation of Marriage: Climbing Mount Maslow Without Enough Oxygen by Eli J. Finkel, the lead of the Relationship and Motivation Lab, and his colleges. The three main points she outlines in Business Insider article Why Marriage is Hard consist of personal fulfillment, working hard at your relationship, and proper expectations.
- Don’t look to your marriage alone for personal fulfillment. In addition to your spouse, use all resources available to you including friends, hobbies, and work.
- If you want a lot from your marriage, then you have to give a lot, meaning that in order to meet their high expectations, couples must invest more time and psychological resources in their marriage.
- And if neither of those options sounds good, perhaps it’s time to ask less of the marriage and adjust high expectations for personal fulfillment and self-discovery.
Anybody, who has successfully been through the journey of love, can confirm these are key ingredients to a successful relationship. Love can conquer pain, illness, self-doubt and all. The right partner with the right amount of effort can bring out the best of anyone.
“Loving my wife changed my life by making me see that other people have way more problems then I could ever understand…so in a sense, it is her fault I am a Socialist.”-Doug, my husband, who has became more empathetic towards poverty in America because of who he married.