Our wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life! We had gone through some difficulties in the weeks leading up to the wedding so by the big day I could have cared less if anything went according to plan. At the end of the day I would be married to my best friend and that was all that mattered. Later, our wedding coordinator often commented on the smile on my face that day.
We vowed to honor, love and cherish each other; to be there in the good times and the bad; for richer or for poorer; in sickness and in health; until death parted us. We had no idea that our lives were about to enter into a journey that would challenge so many of our vows at the same time.
The commitment we pledged that day were very easy words to say. Hubby and I had never had a fight. I knew that I loved and cared for him deeply. He was, and still is, my best friend. I could not fathom anything that could come between us.
All was well until we entered infertility treatment. Our infertility was caused by my endometriosis and PCOS. Between the depression that set in for me and the many surgeries I underwent, we were most certainly into the “sicker” part of our vows. Infertility treatment was expensive and we had no insurance coverage for it. That challenged the financial piece of our commitment. Although now that hubby is a father and appreciates how amazing it is to be a parent, he was not nearly as eager to become a parent as I was. Sometimes I felt like I was dragging him through the infertility treatments. He was supportive but never could understand why I was willing to go through so much. It is not always easy to honor and cherish someone who is not fully committed to the desires of your heart.
Although our marriage remained relatively strong throughout, it took a deliberate decision at the start of treatments. Our marriage was going to come first. Period. As much as I selfishly wanted my dreams at all costs, I knew I had made a lifelong commitment to hubby. I had to put that ahead of everything else.
This decision was openly communicated between the two of us. Yes, we had said our vows on our wedding day, but it was so easy then. In facing something that could tear us apart, we re-vowed our commitment to each other.
This meant respecting each other’s tolerance for the road ahead. I could not plow ahead in pursuit of motherhood if hubby was struggling with where we were at. If one of us needed a break, the other had to be willing honor the need to forgo treatment for a time.
Renewing our promise to each other also meant nurturing our marriage and not let infertility treatments take away from that. Sometimes that meant compromising funds for infertility treatment so we could take a vacation. We also spent far more money having date nights than I would have ever budgeted for. Taking care of our relationship became paramount.
We have tried to always stay connected on a friendship level. We were good friends before we started dating so we would gather ideas from the things we were originally drawn to each other for. We share a love for all things sports related. We played on volleyball leagues, golfed and shot hoops. We talked football, basketball and anything related to THE Ohio State University. We treasured the friendship that brought us together in the first place. I emphasize enough the importance of that when the sexual side of marriage becomes a mechanical means to an end instead of something that augments the relationship.
If you are in the midst of infertility treatment or on the adoption road and feel like you are struggling in your marriage, hit the pause button. Find a way to reconnect. Openly talk about where the other is on the continuum of commitment to continuing the journey. Respect and validate the other’s feelings. Go back to the original things that drew you together. Nurture your relationship and get it stabilized.
Marriage goes through peaks and valleys just like life. It is hard to imagine how the journey will play out when you make the original promises on your wedding day. Finding your marriage in a situation where so many factors could jeopardize the vows that you made requires caution and purposeful action to preserve the relationship. Deciding that you will honor that commitment is vital.
What are some of the things that you and your spouse do to keep your marriage strong?