When it happened to us, my initial reaction was to give up and throw everything out of the door. I must admit that I did ask God why it needs to happen to me and my husband. I blamed myself and I was eaten alive by my insecurities and sadness. I struggled for more than a year to find meaning in all the pain. Looking back, I have nothing but gratitude and forgiveness.
Through our 12 years, people perceived us to have that “perfect”, “i found my soulmate” kind of love story. Being the optimist that I have always been, I only focus on my husband’s strengths. I keep on reminding myself that he is the loving and responsible better half whom I have prayed for and yes, I have not shared much.
Sharing about imperfections has always been a taboo. And today, I don’t really care.
One of my friends told me that she believed in the possibility of a perfect relationship because of me and my husband and I felt compelled to tell the whole story of us. I do not want to contribute to an illusion that in order to have a happy marriage it needs to be perfect. One true love can be found but it needs to be maintained. Having a happy marriage in not just because you found your soulmate, your destiny or your one true love. You have a happy marriage because you decide to have one. Marriage is both joyful and lonely; both with love and hatred. Choosing to be married is letting yourself be vulnerable.
I am a wife and I have struggled. My husband too.
There were a lot of misgivings and challenges in our marriage.
Are we hurt of those? Of course, IMMENSELY.
Is our love shaken, almost.
I thought we have been through a lot as boyfriend and girlfriend for 8 years thus being married will be a walk in the park. But within 4 years of being together we already have our fair share of shaky moments.
During those trying times it was hard for me to believe in the love that we share. Everything seemed to be fake and I cannot feel anything except doubt, anger and fear. I will lock myself up in the toilet to cry myself out. But what kept me holding on is the vow I uttered on our wedding day (I don’t take promises lightly. Haha). I declared that, there will be no going back to the old us, just going for the better version of us.
Rock-bottom experiences, like other problems of lesser magnitude, have many purposes. And I believe its most important purpose is to shape our character and strength as a couple. A few months back, I was listening to a video of Bo Sanchez and he explained about the 7 Rings of Marriage.
Suffe-Ring is the 4th of the 7 rings. Before that are Engagement Ring, Wedding Ring and Discove-Ring. Suffering is the stage when differences are starting to get into the way. It is either couples quarrel about the differences in their love language, or who presses the toothpaste wrongly, sometimes infidelity, money issues and everything under the sun. Some stops here and call it quits. Marriage is a commitment that we need to work for every single day. There are times that the “spark” will be gone but it is up to both of you to rekindle it.
It is important at this stage to admit that sufferRing is part and parcel of a healthy marriage. When we accept the reality that suffering really and will exist then it will be easier for us to think of ways to do something about it. Pride and Ego are the two main culprits for conflicts. For example, your husband unconsciously ignored you while you are telling something to him. You got pissed and stopped talking to him. Him being clueless about what he did, he just let you be and then in your mind, “What a prick! He doesn’t even know how to say sorry!” He ignored you because he is not aware that you are angry already. Or because he does not understand so for him why would he say sorry?! That is suffering for the both of you but actually, if you just said to him nicely that you felt ignored that moment then things will go differently. Effective communication is easier said than that but when a couple masters it, everything will be relatively lighter.
The 5th Ring of Marriage
We need to be Perseve-Ring in order to last forever. This stage is the hardest of all because if you choose to go beyond suffering it only means that it is a conscious decision that you are ready to take the harder route. This is what we signed for when we said “I Do”. My husband and I are not fans of promises but I remembered promising him three things on our wedding day.
It goes like this, “I promise to love you even when I hate you, to never get tired of reminding you every single day why you fell in love with me and when the worst comes, I promise to be there to hold your hand and find our love again.”
The roller coaster ride that we went through made me realize the importance of my wedding vows. They are not uttered for poetry and rhetoric but it is a lifetime promise I need to fight for until the end. I learn to stop blaming others but to take action. To let go of the things I fear and to live in the moment. To look at each other’s strengths rather than our weaknesses.These words kept me grounded, kept me sane. It was hard to get back and I waited for this peace patiently. I am still fearful on certain days. It is a reality I have accepted and decided to embrace.
a. Acknowledge. I make it a point to empathize more and acknowledge my husband’s feelings and opinions. If he said I hurt him, I will say sorry and listen what he has to say. I will not explain why I did something or what is my side. At that point of hurting, he only needs to be heard. I will usually explain myself on another day or timing. I learn to practice seeing and feeling things through his eyes and heart. Marriage is about loving without thinking who says I love you first and who forgives first.
b. Value. I say thank you most of the time. I appreciate every little act of service he does for me. For several days now, he will deliver lunch to me and he thinks through what he will buy for me. That is more than enough to make me feel kilig and loved. He got me a soy milk the other day and that small act means he pays attention to what I order most of the time. When we appreciate people as who they are, their self worth increases too.
c. Pray. I pray to my God for wisdom. My heart was lost within those times and he is there to assure me in every way I seek. Today, i thank him for the opportunity he gave us to grow as a couple.
What Doesn’t Kill you Makes you Stronger
I believe God cares for me when I’m sick. He cares for me when I’m brokenhearted. He cares for me when things make me frustrated. He cares for me when I start to question our love. All those things are important to Him, but His first priority is to shape our character. I blamed God for hurting me during those times but that period of my life made me think back and reflect on my character as a wife and a new mom. In marriage, there are two people involved. It will never be just one person’s fault but both.
I was too absorbed in my pregnancy and I lost track of the life I promise not to be lived unnoticed. I am too lenient. I became complacent. He was so free. He needed affirmation. He was hurt. He hasn’t forgiven me. What happened gave us the chance to see each other on a different light. I understood that we are two very different individuals and our differences are also the reasons why we are the best for each other.
Prospe-RING, the 6th Ring of Marriage
In choosing to grow together as two individuals but as one soul, we improved individually and become wiser together. We started to treat each other’s weakness as an opportunity for the other to shine. We became vulnerable to hurt but we are also open to receive all the love and affirmation our better half is willing to give. A healthy marriage will not only give us a fulfilled life but it is also the best thing we can give to our kids. Child psychologists say that a happy marriage helps to bring up intelligent and happier kids. Ultimately, it is also our gift to the Lord who has been faithful to us whenever we are in deep agony. This is our Offe-RING, the 7th Ring of Marriage.
In conclusion, we live in duality. Light exists and in the absence of it there is darkness. In numerous failures you also increase your chances of succeeding. Something needs to die for something to grow. When you love, you would most likely feel sadness too because loving requires vulnerability. Sadness helps you appreciate happy times. Hardship brings out the best in us and in turn, shape our character. It teaches us how to live.
To Dax, I cannot do it alone, thank you for choosing me everyday. Please do so until forever. Hehe.
Thank you for leading me back to the start. Thank you for bringing me home for the nth time. Thank you for listening even when you are already tired of doing that. Thank you for acknowledging that parenting is a shared responsibility. Thank you for staying for US and not for Aia alone. Thank you for doing your best to make me fall in love again and again. Thank you for being okay with all our imperfections combined. Thank you for being you, because someone like you is more that enough for me.
Happy 4th wedding anniversary!
For people who choose to separate ways and not choose to continue being married, its okay. You and your God know that you have done everything in your capacity to keep that promise. Stop being too hard on yourself and forgive yourself. Marriage is between two people and staying together requires both parties’ willingness. May you be happier as the days unfold.