Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First comes love...

When you are falling in love, you fantasize about spending all the wonderful time together. You  picture creating a home that is your own and waking up starting each day with the person you adore.  You giggle at the memory of each dinner date, moment of new experiences, and jokes that only the two of you can understand.  You visualize getting married, traveling, having a baby, maybe a few more and exploring each day together. While you know there will be tears, in the beginning you don't incorporate the arguments and life's challenges into your love story. Why would you want to think about arguing? About tears? About life and death? Why would you want to contemplate how you have to make a joke out of having your house flooded with water on your eldest daughter's first day back to school after being hospitalized for 4 months? Why do I ask...because you should!

2006- year 2
I have been married for 8.5 years.  We have had a good marriage that has evolved every year. Heck, evolved every month.  There are incredible, many incredible memories and life experiences and we have also yet to have a year of marriage that is "boring".  People say some of the most stressful times in life are getting married, having a baby, and getting laid off.  Jack and I experienced all of the above in the first 7 months of marriage.  Year two and three we experienced another job transition, starting a new business, 2nd trimester miscarriage, losing friends to become angels.  Year four was a doosy- baby #2, me-pneumonia at 6 weeks postnatal to E hospitalized with pneumonia-pertussis-rsv (in other words told she was fighting hard for her little life) and Dad hospitalized unexpectedly with a pacemaker.  Oy vey- not done! Starting business #2 for this mama and Postpartum Depression too.  Year five to six, Jack is laid off without any severance or benefits and leave our beloved Portland  to regroup in California. Year seven, oldest hospitalized for 4 months with life threatening conditions. Year 7.5-8.5 attempting to survive and breath and laugh at the unexpected.

With the first 8 years of marriage behind us now, I am craving a year of just having fun traveling the world together as a family with NO HEAVY responsibility.  Meaning, we get to save up and not use it for medical bills or debt but to put our life on hold for 6 months and take off around the world to PLAY.  I know it is a dream because being an adult = responsibility, but I fantasize.  I fantasize about the great feeling of escaping back to those pre family memories of what you have laid out for a charmed life.  The feeling before hurt and pain, before the heartache of talking but not hearing each other. The time of looking forward to a night alone sometimes instead of a date out with your partner just to breath.  But guess what, how you plan out life doesn't always happen in your timeline and the best thing to do is embrace it.  If you push it away, it will only cause splinters to every ounce of your being. 

2007-Year 3-4
Love is the foundation of why two people get married. With love anything is possible, right?  Actually it is with with the love, communication and an understanding that you won't always see things the same way.  Through the 8.5 years of marriage in every challenge Jack and I worked together as a team.  We bounce ideas back and forth and attempt to jump through the unexpected hoops together. When either of us had a struggle, we'd attempt to find a solution that works.  But here lies the challenge, the one that has been the biggest challenge this past year for me.  That is that people cope with horrible stressers very different and how they do can affect you. BUT you can not fault them.

How one copes is how they have to manage to breath.  We had weeks over this past year that would happen and neither of us  were communicating well.  Thus avoidance and irritation and resentment built up. Sometimes that led to long solo runs for me and for staying at work to late for Jack.  We had a breakdown of listening as coping with the exhaustion, intensity and digestion of all that happened with Makenzie was overwhelming. Once home with both of our daughters in their beds, we had time to talk about what happened....but it was to hard to talk.  Jack doesn't want to talk about what if's and while I don't either, I needed to feel a game plan for the "what if's" since Makenzie does have only 1/3 of her pancreas left.  I need to know if hospitalization happens again, we can communicate and support each other better.  The hurt and anger of times when we needed to communicate best but were communicating at our worst haunted me.  You can't change what words you've shared or thought, but you can learn and evolve from them for future conversations.

2007- Year 4
The heaviness of the hard conversations and feelings of not being heard are heartbreaking.  When you experience tragic times with someone, only the two of you can relate about the challenges. While you don't want anyone to understand or relate to the challenges, it would almost be healing if there was someone else.  The pressures mount and steam comes out of ears, while trying to "Keep calm and carry on" for your children. And even harder...nobody talks about it.  Nobody who is married really talks about the challenges of communication and the hard work that goes into a marriage and partnership. Why not? I am not saying air all components of your intimate spousal fights with your best friends, but if you feel the need to talk about some elements and ask for advice on how friends cope, why aren't we? Why is it people feel they have to only show the Facebook affect...meaning they only share the most gorgeous moments of their lives and marriages.

2010- Year 6-7 - UCSF
Is that honest? Is it real?  I remember when writing all the blogs on Caring Bridge I wanted to be honest about how hard it was with Jack...but every third person who talked to us expressed their concern about the divorce rate amongst couples with sick children. I wanted to share more of the real life elements that were going on.  The arguments in the ICU, the fights when on runs together about hospital bills and who got to be with Emerson. The conflicts over communication with family, what was shared and wasn't shared online, nerves over finances and business. The honest conversations regarding,"What if the surgeries don't work and she doesn't make it?". That is REAL and part of a marriage, and while horrifically tough, it is the process of going through challenges together.  You love the other person so much you power through the crappy times to endure the BEAUTIFUL and GLORIOUS ones!  You power through the moments of loneliness that can happen when you cope differently with the cards you're dealt, because you know in the end that you'll have the best hand of cards by coming back together. 
Last weekend I found out of two more friends who are getting divorced.  We are at the age of first marriages ending.  Yes, rough way to start the weekend as you contemplate the heartache of others. Sadly one dear friend wants to communicate and her husband decided he is already done.  It made me think about this last year and how people who are married don't talk about the hard work that goes into marriage.  I have thought about this for a while, especially when people say about the last year, "You and Jack are so lucky to have each other. You are the best at being teammates."  Yes, they are right. We are great teammates.  We also work very hard and have lows that happen with all of the challenges we've faced. We've had times of eagerness to escape on solo trips to Hawaii, and don't feel that is actually bad.  They are real and true during some times of marriage.  Through those lows we're able to embrace the highs as we finally get through them. 

2011- Years 7-8
I guess I am writing about this to be honest. It is scary in some ways since it sheds light on another layer of who Jack and I are as a couple, but also might honor the hard work we try to put in to growing together.  Yes, we both LAUGH our arses off at life, the glitches, each other, and each little adventure.  However, we are both - now - open to therapy and working towards getting additional tools of communication to learn HOW to talk to each other so they other will hear better.  We look at our parents who have both been married for 41 years, and the hard work and love put into their time together.  They are all in love with their partners and smooch in front of us! They hold hands in public- oh my as Makenzie now teases - and look at each other adoringly. 

I ask you, how is it you and your partner communicate? How did you visualize being married and how has the vision evolved?  How is it you feel you have learned the most over the years and what is it you would love to share about real love? I know for me, I have learned so much and through each unexpected challenge know there is a light at the end that leads to greater sense of communication and support of loving each other...for all that we are and hope to be.

2012- St. Patrick's Day Family Dinner- 3.11.2012 - Our life


  1. Erin,
    Thank you for sharing your this...honesty is so helpful and so rare when it comes to what it really takes to make a marriage work and stay "happily" married.

    1. Hey Nicola-
      Thanks so much. It does take you and I know there are ups and downs but the ups are incredible and like a beyond vibrant rainbow! Hope all is well and much love to you.


I am probably out running, but I thank you for taking the time to share. I look forward to your additional input as this blog grows and evolves.
Erin Kreitz Shirey