2017 Nearly Destroyed My Marriage...

 

2017 nearly destroyed my marriage. Correction: I almost allowed 2017 to destroy my marriage. It was a beautifully hard year. To outsiders looking in I had it all; a loving husband, the sweetest little boy, my business had grown exponentially, and I even had a photo worthy pup. We were living the American Dream. However, behind the scenes our marriage was suffering.

As a couple, adversity was not foreign to us. From the time we were dating, during our almost 2 year engagement, and for the first 5 years of our marriage we were no stranger to outside forces trying to pull us apart. Every time a crazy ex, unforeseen circumstances, and even family tried to break our relationship we would metaphorically link arms and overcome whatever was thrown our way, together. It did nothing but make us cling to one another thus making us stronger.

But for the first time in 11 years adversity wasn’t coming from an outside force, it was coming from within us. This was unchartered water. It was deep and it was scary.

While no one person is at fault in a marriage, I absolutely take responsibility for the majority of our pain. I’m a big dreamer and doer. When I set a goal I’m relentless until it’s achieved. I wanted to be the best mom, have a magazine worthy home, volunteer regularly at our church, be an influencer in my profession, and as ironic as it is I wanted to be a loving wife. I was wearing all the hats and trying to keep all the balls in the air. Something had to give.

Unfortunately, that something was my marriage. I can’t even tell you when or how things started going downhill. It was gradual. A forgotten goodbye kiss. An absent “How was your day honey?” Collapsing into bed from exhaustion instead of falling asleep in his arms. I washed the dishes while he watched ESPN. Our calendars were communicating to each other but we weren’t. We began arguing over the most ridiculous things like who was responsible for picking up milk on their way home from work. One daily action or lack thereof led us to coexist instead of being a unified team. Without knowing it I began harboring resentment.

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I woke up one day and it hit me like a ton of bricks that for the first time in 11 years we were unhappy. Again, something had to give. Broken and utterly confused as to how we got here I awkwardly approached my husband. We stumbled through our first few conversations, no longer knowing the best way to communicate to each other. We were either walking on eggshells or dishing out low blows. There was no in-between. But we kept trying. For months we tried having the same conversation. A conversation trying to discover if the other was happy. A conversation about what was best for our son. A conversation about where to go from here.

Ultimately a decision had to be made. We could no longer walk through this life, numb and go through the motions. My husband took the decision out of my hands. A bold move that I’m forever grateful for.

“I’m fighting for you, for us. I’m not giving up on our marriage.”

In that moment a weight was lifted, a weight I didn’t know I was carrying. The resentment didn’t magically subside. I was still broken and angry and felt defeated. There was no magic fix for either of us. It was hard work. Very hard work. But his daily actions slowly chipped away at what felt like a darkness that had surrounded us. As each day, week, and month passed we slowly saw light and life coming back into our marriage.

After awhile I began to gain confidence in us again and felt true happiness between us. I wanted to document the hardship we had been through and celebrate our hard-fought battle through photographs. I reached out to a trusted friend, shared my idea and a beautiful experience happened.

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Honestly, I went into the photo shoot thinking we were just going to snap a few pictures simply for us to remember what we accomplished together. Being a wedding planner it’s my nature to over plan and focuses on details of shoots but for this, I wanted the opposite. No fluff just documentation of raw emotion. What we received was an experience we will forever be grateful for.

For months we had been focusing on rebuilding our marriage. While things were definitely moving in a positive direction something was missing and I didn’t even realize it. Intimacy. Our communication had improved, we began equally sharing responsibilities, and we were parenting together like champs but we hadn’t quite connected back on that deeper level yet.

In the midst of the camera snapping away I caught my husband looking at me, we locked eyes, and I saw the same look come across his face as when we were dating. Something in us shifted. It was almost tangible. I had butterflies again. Each forehead kiss and hand on the small of my back was electric.

As 2018 rolled in with a clean slate and fresh opportunities for our marriage, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past year and be grateful for the darkness that crept in. Every struggle inevitably becomes a story and I’m thankful our story is one of strength and perseverance ultimately giving us more happiness than we imagined possible.

Oh and the dishes? I wash and he dries.  

To my husband: I love you, no matter what.

Gallery of Photographs

Story Credits

Photographs by Kate Elizabeth Photography Hair and Makeup by Sunny Hair and Makeup