When the doors opened and I began my walk down the beautiful aisle, of a church that would echo the promises Chris and I exchanged that day, I did not fully understand the true blessing that was being handed to me at the end of that aisle. He was my gift that day and has been every day since. My love. My life. Our marriage is my most sacred possession. It is the foundation of our family. The foundation of our life. For Better or For Worse, Chris and Dana.
It is within a marriage, after the wedding day…when the presence of “worse” actually appears, that one really begins to contemplate the meaning of that sacred promise…For Better or For Worse.
Months before our wedding we needed to participate in marriage preparation classes. We had a unique situation in that we were, and still are, friends with the priest (Father Stanley) who was going to marry us. So, we really did not go to “classes”, per say. Instead, we had Father Stanley over for dinner and then began discussing the topics that are typical to these classes. We first started by taking a little quiz, answering questions about our expectations of a marriage. We took the quiz and then we began discussing. One question occupied the majority of our conversation that evening. This was the question: Will you ever question your love for your partner? Chris answered “Yes”. I answered “No”. According to Father Stanley, and to Chris, I was wrong. Apparently, in the history of Father Stanley giving this quiz, only one other man, and now Chris, had answered this question “correctly”. Great.
I spent the remainder of that evening, and the first years of our marriage, arguing my point. Arguing that there may be times that I would not “like” Chris, or not agree with him or something he has done, but my love for him would never change. I would always love him and love him so deeply that there would never be any reason to question my love for him.
Their argument back to me was that sometimes when the “worse” comes in to play you will have moments of questioning your love. It does not mean that you don’t love the other person or you don’t want to be with your spouse, it just means that you will question at times in your marriage if you do, in fact, really love this person.
So, are you ready? This does not happen very often…they were right.
It took me awhile to get this. It took my lowest moment in life to fully understand what this meant.
We had been at the hospital for over a day trying to induce my body into labor. Trying to deliver a baby that was no longer alive. It had been the absolute worst few days of our lives…the ultimate of “worse”. The baby would not come. We had been gone from our home for so long, and had left so abruptly, that we decided to have Addison come and visit us at the hospital. For her, I needed to attempt to put myself together. I needed a shower. I had an IV in my hand, was tired and weak and my body had already been through hell. Chris was going to have to help me shower. I stood in the shower with my body showing all the signs of pregnancy: large belly, stretch marks, acne…and all the signs of death. I was carrying our dead baby. Chris needed to wash my hair. My lowest moment was seeing the look in my husband’s eyes as he tried to help me as my dignity crashed to the floor. Yes, his actions were all love and the truest test of For Better or For Worse. He and I did what we had to do in that moment and in that day. But the look in his eye, and what I later reflected was in my heart too, was a question. Do I really love this person? Is this really what I signed up for? Do I really love this person that stands here vulnerable, broken, scared, holding the hand of death? Do I really love this person that is watching me fall apart at my absolute worst?
The answer, of course, was yes. Without a doubt…YES. But the question still presented itself. We would in fact question our love for one another. That day we would indeed question our love.
We will celebrate 8 years of marriage this week. 8 years of better and worse. I am so proud of us for what we make of this marriage. I am so proud of us for asking the tough question…do I love this person? I am so proud of us for walking hand-in-hand through the “worse” and even though the last few years have been heavy with “worse”, we keep walking…together, Chris and Dana, through the “worse” yet always reaching for the “better”.
Thank you to Father Stanley for helping prepare us for the unthinkable…the question…the “worse”. It is inevitable that each marriage will face its own worse and it is imperative that couples understand that questioning your love for your partner is indeed only part of a real marriage. Answering “yes” to that very question represents the love and commitment required for marriages to persevere through the most difficult of times. We will continue to preserve, to love, to celebrate what is real, what is us.
Happy 8 years to the love of my life! I am thankful for everyday…For Better and for Worse.