Sunday, July 14, 2013

In six years of marriage, I've learned a thing or two. Happy Anniversary, my Love!

There are moments in our lives where we come to obstacles and we wonder - maybe aloud, maybe to our partners, or maybe just in our own thoughts - if we are going to be able to overcome it. I can think of a handful of times when I've wondered how other people do it. One of those times was when Cole passed away. I've spoken pretty honestly about how it changed my marriage. I know a lot of people in the blog/babyloss world talk about how the experience strengthened their marriage, made them realize how quickly life can pass. That was not my reality, our reality - at least at first. We struggled. We dealt with grief oh-so-differently. I wanted to talk about Cole. I was aghast that Mr. Howard didn't even tell some of his district supervisors that we had lost him. When he'd tell me he met someone new, I would grill him. Did they ask you how many kids you have? Did you count Connor AND Cole? I'm not proud of how I turned my anger towards a husband who grieved differently than me, but it was our truth.

In those early days and months, I wondered all too often how we would overcome that obstacle.

I can say with the utmost sincerity that that is not the case now. I understand my husband's grief. More than that, I accept it. I accept that we all grieve differently. And in accepting that about my husband, I gave myself permission to grieve the way I wanted and I gave myself permission to acknowledge that while he didn't show his love for Cole the way I did, it didn't mean he didn't love him. In fact, I know that love cannot be measured by whether or not you tell a stranger something.

Of course, losing Cole was a big one. A big test. But there have been smaller tests. Tests of patience. Humility. Faith. Jobs. Balance. Anyone who has been with someone for any amount of time knows that these tests can be as simple as calming your nagging spirit or as damning as a fight that went from pebbles to mountains in a mere minutes.

I can't say what other people's marriages are like. It's why I don't ever presume to judge the decisions a couple makes or the mistakes they make. Just because I haven't made them, doesn't mean I haven't made others. A woman once told me, "You can't rank vows." And that has stuck with me. I have made mistakes in my marriage and I'd bet you that Mr. Howard would say he has made just as many. So, to say that our marriage is "better" because we haven't done x, y, and z seems very hypocritical. We are the same as anyone who has made mistakes and we are always learning and healing.

So, for a while I've been trying to write this post. I've been trying to figure out how to articulate love. How do I convey something so deep, so personal, and so all encompassing without trespassing into the trenches of my heart, baring secrets I can't take back? I haven't quite figured it out. I'm not sure that I will ever truly be able to convey it and all the comparisons and analogies I come up with seem corny.

So, I'm just going to start by saying that while we do sometimes fight, we also love. Hard. There is no other man on earth I love more than my husband. We have been together 13 years and I still can't stop holding his hand. I still get excited when he puts his hand on the small of my back when we're out in public. I still wake up in the middle of the night, realizing I'm not touching him, and reach out for his arm - hand - back. I still fall asleep in his arms 6 nights out of 7 and wake up on days when we're going on a date as excited as a school girl. I know not everyone believes in soul mates, but I do. I believe that God created Mr. Howard for me and I for him.
Marriage takes work. It's waking up every day and choosing to love someone - choosing to put them first - choosing to do the things that make a partner happy even if those same things don't make you happy. It isn't like people see in the movies and it's for that reason that I think so many people have gotten divorced. They think that you will just wake up every day and stay married to someone. Anyone who has been with someone for a decade or more, knows that is not the case. You have to choose to have a healthy marriage. And I feel infinitely blessed that we've woken up every day and chosen to love each other for thirteen years, six of those in marriage.

Today marks six years from when we stood in front of our family, friends, and pastor and vowed to love each other. Since that day we have certainly done so in richer and poorer times, good times and bad, and in sickness and in health.

And four kids, lots of love, fights, pain, joy, grief, parties, new friendships, ending of friendships, vacations, hundreds of parenting mistakes, dances, giggles, coffee dates, tears, work triumphs, work disasters, moves, dinners, lunches, and breakfasts later...I know that we will continue to do so. I know this, because we both choose to do so.

On our wedding day in 2007 we both wrote our own vows and read them to each other. Despite nerves and trembling hands, we both read them to each other because it meant something to us to string together a set of words that no other couple in the universe had ever said to each other. Almost as if we had planned it (although we both know who planned it), we both ended our vows exactly the same way. Meant to be, right?

In honor of that day, I'll end it with those words. My love, I love you times infinity to the infinite power.


Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Happy Anniversary!

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love this post! Thanks for your honesty and giving us single girls like me a healthy dose of reality. :-) On an unrelated note, I literally did a double take when I saw your wedding picture. I think it has to do with the facial structure, but I saw so much of Mother looking back at me. I don't see her in me AT ALL but do find moments of resemblance in you and Katie. Must be the Kirkpatrick genes. I know none of us ever want to hear the words, "You look like your mother," (and hope this doesn't make you cringe), but somehow it brings me comfort to know that part of her lives on in her beautiful nieces.

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks Kira!! I think that is an amazing compliment that I look like her! I just love that. Hey! I've been meaning to tell you, too, that I have a few pictures from my wedding of your Mama that I found when we got digital proofs of our wedding photos. I'll send them over to you!

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks, Heather!

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Such a beautiful, powerful post! I totally understand the hard times that came after Cole. We have been married 16 years and Jonathan was our most difficult trial. Thank you for sharing your love and story:)

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