Monday, August 25, 2014

What is Marriage, Really?

This post originally appeared as a guest post on Life with Amberly and Joe

Two days after my daughter was born, I was readmitted to the hospital. I endured a five day stay while they tried to manage my blood pressure. My husband and daughter joined me. It was in the hospital that we experienced the beginning of our journey as a family of three.

My husband slept (and practically lived) on a very uncomfortable pull out cot. He stayed up far too late watching our daughter for the moments that he could while I attempted to get some rest. I had never been more frightened in my life and he offered me constant comfort.

I couldn't shower. For over 24 hours I had an IV and after that time period I was far too weak to take a shower. My face was broken out, my hair was greasy, I lived in a hospital gown, and I cried for 23 of the 24 hours of my day.

I was angry that I didn't have my picture perfect "after baby" scene going on. I wasn't curled up on the couch smiling down at my little girl with my husband by my side. I wasn't getting the chance to be pampered by my husband on his days off (wishful thinking). We weren't laughing at our beautiful daughter, taking too many pictures, and boring our families with them. And most of all, I wasn't able to cuddle with him at night while talking about the beautiful new life we created. I felt like I was missing out on my marriage.

Where was our cuddle time? Where were our prayers over a home-cooked meal while holding hands? Where was our Netflix routine? Where were the conversations about normal day-to-day things that we talked about before falling asleep. WHERE WAS MY MARRIAGE?!?

One day my mom came up to see me. I was so upset and started explaining my fears, worries, and more to her.  In expressing my anger and frustration I said, "People can't be married in a hospital forever!"

She just laughed and assured me that, first and foremost, I wouldn't be in the hospital forever. She then assured me that my marriage would be fine and that Zach and I would establish a new normal.

My marriage didn't "go" anywhere. It just looked different. It had changed because it needed to.

Until then, my marriage had been this awesome perk in my life. It had been a sleepover every night. Zach and I faced every trial head on, side by side. We would use our individual gifts and talents to tackle whatever life threw our way--each pulling our fair share. And when things were good, we enjoyed those times side by side as well. We traveled, went on dates, and planned for the future with smiles on our faces.


 I hadn't thought about what things would be like when one of us couldn't pull. When one of us had nothing to give. When one of us had to solely rely on the other.

I had to rely on my husband to take care of our daughter. Zach had to change every diaper, take care of all her needs-- except for feeding and holding her-- (but even when I was doing those things he had to watch because the medications I was on made me weak). Zach had to take her to her first doctor's appointment when she was six days old by himself. He kept me on speaker phone the whole time while I choked on tears. He dressed her and cuddled  her and talked to her.

I had to rely on my husband to take care of me. He helped me out of bed every time I had to use the restroom. He brought me the things that I needed and wiped tears away from my face. He took trips to our home to bring me back some comforts. He held my hand and listened to my worries.


I had to rely on my husband's faith. I literally had none. I was so scared and I was too afraid to pray. When I did pray, I was too afraid to believe or to hope. Zach did it for me. He did it for both of us.  He prayed with me and offered me several blessings. He recited scriptures and pulled up spiritual videos for me. I borrowed his faith with all that I had.

I was doing all I could, but it was my husband pulling the weight.

It felt weird to fully rely on someone else. There are not words to describe the fear that I felt during that time and the tremendous need I had to rely on him in every possible way.

But that's what marriage really is.

Before I got married I thought marriage was sharing a home, making out, and having babies together. That you would have a family that looked like the family in the picture frame. Your house would smell good, you'd have music playing, and dinnertime would be a shared effort--always ending with a romantic kiss or slow dance in the kitchen, of course.

After I met my husband I learned that marriage definitely included sharing a home, making out, and having babies together. It also included becoming the best of friends, enjoying each other, and working together on the tough stuff--the unexpected car repairs, the hurt feelings, and the big decisions. 

Now I know that marriage is even more than that. 

Marriage is strength. 

When you can both carry your own weight, there is strength in that partnership. Great strength comes from pairing the greatest strengths you each have together and overcoming anything.

When one of you is unable to carry the weight, marriage offers you the strength anyway. What a beautiful blessing to have. When you can't offer everything you've got, you can do what you can and your partner does the rest. 

Marriage is hope.

Together you get to hope, and dream, and plan. You get to look ahead to the future. When the future is uncertain or scary, you always know you have your marriage to rely on and a hand to hold. That simple promise brings great hope as you face the unknown. 

Marriage is love.

It's real and true love. It's not an "I love spending time with you" or an "I love how you look" love. Marriage offers love in every circumstance and through every emotion. It offers love through every stage of life.

  Marriage is knowledge.

With all that marriage offers us, it is our best teacher. It teaches us how to give of ourselves and how to love unconditionally. It helps us strengthen our weak areas and our strengths--it's not so scary with a partner at your side, there to pick up the pieces if you don't succeed.  It teaches us how our Heavenly Father and Savior feel about us and teaches us to love like them.

Marriage is the greatest blessing. 

Have you ever experienced a time where you needed to rely on your spouse? How did it make you feel? 

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