2020. Wow! Hard to believe we’re already twenty years into the new millennium. When I think back over the past twenty years, I’m amazed not at just what our country has gone through, but what I’ve personally gone through.
Here in just under a month, Keith and I will celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary. Here’s a list of strikes against us to not succeed, or at least made things harder:
- The abuse in my childhood – all forms
- In and of itself, the abuse has been a primary culprit of so much strain
- When we married, we were dual military (both active duty)
- In fact, almost everyone around us gave us six months
- I hit a very low spot just over two years where I didn’t want to live and became very confused about life in general
- This was mostly caused due to the significant trauma I went through my childhood
- We separated for around nine months during this time, but ultimately came back together
- Infertility – we were told the chances of us ever conceiving was very slim
- Pregnant – while this isn’t a strike against us, Mari was our little miracle child, a precious gift, after being told we how small of a chance we’d get pregnant without help
- Mari diagnosed with autism at age 3
- Her autism in and of itself was one of the hardest struggles of our marriage – caring for a child with any disability is hard, and especially on a marriage
- Keith and I each did our best
- July 2008 – Mari contracts E. coli 0157:H7
- July 1 – school called to say she had diarrhea
- July 16 – she passed away in my arms
- To say this was THE hardest, most difficult strain on our marriage would be an understatement for how truly difficult losing our precious little one was – it took me several years to fully heal
- August 2011 – Our niece and nephew, Athena and Trevin, come to live with us due to severe abuse and neglect
- The trauma they both had gone through before coming to us was quite immense – both of them have enormous scars that they’ll have to deal with for the rest of their lives
- While Trevin went back to live with his mom in July 2013, Athena is still with us
While I didn’t go into a lot of detail, and I may even be missing a couple of things, in our almost 26 years of marriage, we’ve been able to work through it all and stay together.
In this day and age where divorce is so prevalent, we’ve actually made it through. We both believe this has more to do with the fact that we’re both believers. When we took our vows that basically say that through the good times and the bad times, we “vow” to stay together, we did. In no way has it been an easy road. We just both know that not only does God not like divorce, He tells us it’s wrong. The only two examples I know of that God says a divorce is okay is when a spouse abandons his/her spouse or when a spouse has had an affair. Even in these two instances, while God allows for divorce, He’d rather the spouses work it out and forgive each other instead.
We came very close to divorce the time we separate at the beginning of our marriage and then after losing Mari. Keith and I grieved in such vastly different ways that we didn’t understand each other. We ultimately sought out marriage counseling from a pastor. We only had four sessions with him and it’s incredible how quickly our marriage was back on track. I think we were very fortunate. Marriage is hard work. When you say, “I do,” you have no clue how challenging the path will be. There will always be those inevitable hard times. It’s how we handle them that can make the difference. For Keith and I, we both know that we’re still together because of God and Him working in our lives. He’s guided and protected both of these past twenty‑six years. I have a feeling if we weren’t both believers that we would be divorced by now. It’s our faith that’s brought us to where we are today because we’ve allowed God to be an intricate part of our lives. It’s not been easy, but it’s been well worth it in the end.
Keith and I are blessed to have found each other all those years ago. The fact that Keith hasn’t left me is a miracle in and of itself. I’m not an easy person to be married to. Keith and I both believe, based on all the research and everything we know, that I have a form of autism, probably high functioning/Asperger’s. Then you add the abuse that happened to me as a kid, and it just makes things hard. Yet, through it all, Keith loves me. He really, really loves me. I’m his priority. He takes care of me. I can’t believe how truly blessed I was all those years ago that we found each other.
While it’d have been nice not to have all of the above happen, especially losing Mari, I know God allowed it all to happen for a reason. He takes the most difficult of circumstances and turns them into blessings. We have to remember to look for them and know He’s beside us every step of the way.