This Title is Hard to Swallow

When Dan and I were first married everyone was telling us to wait a year to have children and to get to know each other first.

I mean we just got married so clearly we know nothing about each other. We are still ignorantly thinking the other is perfection.

After visting my brother and meeting his fresh, new, nonjudgmental, non-damaged, baby, Dan and I knew we wanted kids right away. So we decided to start our little family.

Lucky for us, while on our honeymoon I got this HORRIBLE bladder infection. It was so painful I could not walk and I ended up going to the ER.

Now why is that lucky? Because when I was put on antibiotics for the infection it canceled out my birth control and BAM! We were pregnant with a honeymoon baby.

We both were jumping for joy and so happy to not even have to wait to become pregnant. But… almost 3 weeks later to the day I ended up getting deathly sick for about 6 months. I couldn’t eat or drink. I coudn’t even swallow my spit. I know Ewe! (Insert Jimmy Fallon) I was picc line fed every night for 14 hours, I had an in-home nurse, and there were several trips to the E.R., with very little to no showering. At that point I packed up the “honeymoon stage”, puked, and sent it packing.

Normally when your spouse has to wipe your butt you’re well into your 90’s. Unless you have some other arrangement and then to each their own. (shrug) You have had the time to grow and have some chidren. I would have never guessed Dan would be wiping my butt before one of our kids. Just saying. The romance is now dead.

To say our marriage was strained is an understatement. I would have moved out if I had a stable home or any home for that matter to go to. My dad was just sentenced to 4 years in prison and my mom had just moved in with her mom. I absolutely didn’t see it at the time, but now I see that, that “problem” was a blessing. I had to stay and deal with the strains of our marriage. The strain of becoming severly sick and a non-existent human being.

After Ezekiel was born our relationship started to attempt to crawl out of the vomit I burried it in and clean itself off. Except I did something crazier then Kanye West going gospel, I got pregnant AGAIN!! Now I am not saying Zara was an accident because she was not. But! I was nursing full time a 4 month old baby! Yes, you can get pregnant while nursing full time. Luckily I wasn’t as sick with her but I did get deathly sick with the next 2. All my boys about took me out. The girls made me sick but spared Dan wiping my butt.

You can only imagine that our marriage needed some tender loving care and the memory swiper from Men in Black. We both had our views of what happened. I was holding resentment at what I felt was unfair treatment. He was frustrated with his brand new shiny wife becoming sick and lets be honest probably a little peaved for having to wipe my butt. I wasn’t exactly sure how to come back from that but I knew I was going to try.

I was then introduced to a book written by Dr. Laura called, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. I know ladies the title alone makes you want to find the nearest husband and punch him in the face. I can’t remember who introduced me to it but I am glad they did.

As I started reading it my death grip loosened a bit and I found myself nodding in agreement. I started thinking, this is genius!!! and so is Dr. Laura!

The book title is a guise to get men to think it’s about proper care and feeding of them, but what it really is are tricks and tips on how to get your husband to do exactly what you want!! It only takes a few statements and gestures to have your husband putty in your hands.

For example, when they walk through the door from work you say, “Hello, how was your day?” Bam!! That’s it!! Mind blowing crap like that all through the book! OR, Let them sit down and take a minute before telling them how you want to adopt out the kids. I did this with my husband and it totally worked! He started seeing that I was trying to put him first and caring about his feelings. Then the darnedest thing happened, he started doing the same exact thing for me!

Then it became habit for both of us.

I am not saying that all our problems stopped with Dr. Laura and I now send her a Christmas card every year. But it helped me to realize that if I want a change in my marriage, it has to start with me. I have to swallow my pride and read the book with a title that could kill a feminist right where she stands. If you can’t read the feminist killing titled book that could potentially help your marriage, then I am going to go out on a limb and say, that is why your marriage is hurting. Pride. What is the end goal you want to have? To win? Or to have a healthy, thriving marriage?

Mandy’s Story #8

Describe yourself: I am happily married, with the cutest golden retriever (Whiskey) and feel grateful for our sweet life. I’m 41 years old and have been a professional coach for 20 years. Next year I will be launching business with my best friend sharing our experience working in the self help industry and what we discovered is the untold truth about happiness: it is not found in a guru, money, or fame. Happiness is only found within. 

What are your biggest insecurities? 
My health issues and eating habits. I get migraines, and have many triggers I know I need to avoid. I’m insecure about going to parties, out to eat, and anything social because most of the food I can’t eat. I get uncomfortable when people ask me about my eating because I know how sensitive others get about their own eating. I don’t like it when people say “Sorry Mandy I’m eating this in front of you.” The last thing I want is for others to feel guilty about their eating habits around me. 

What are your biggest fears?
Losing my husband. I met him when I was 35 years old, and have witnessed two close friends lose their husbands tragically. This fear isn’t logical, my husband is loyal and healthy, but that is my deepest fear because I’m very happy and deeply in love. 

How do you get through your fears?
Speaking to close friends, and having a very good therapist. 

If married, what are the biggest struggles you have in your marriage?
Our political and social beliefs, and our eating habits. We are both very passionate with our beliefs, and it has been the one area that can bring out the ugliness in both of us. We rarely eat together because our diets are vastly different, it’s not really a struggle but more of an inconvenience. 

If ever divorced, what do you think caused the divorce? Do you ever regret getting the divorce? 
My husband was divorced when I met him, I’ve never been divorced but I believe divorce is necessary unfortunately. There are so many in toxic and abusive marriages who stay together just to avoid the stigma of divorce, to me that is sad. 

How do you get through those struggles in your marriage?
We have an incredible therapist on call. 🙂 

We also have rules: 
*Never insult one another 
*Never call each other names
*Never say “whatever” 
*Never say “we need to talk” 
*Never say “shut up”
*Never flip off the other 
*Never lie to one another
*Always kiss the other when one leaves
*Always text morning love text to whoever wakes up first 

If we do, the other has a 5 minute time out. We have successfully kept these rules in place for 7 years. 

What is a trial that you feel alone in?
The quest to cure my migraines. Everyone feels pity for me, but no one knows what to do. I feel alone in my search for answers and all the things I do to find answers. 

How do you get through that trial?
I listen a lot to Medical Medium podcast, and read about other success stories for inspiration. 
Meditation. Prayer. Yoga. Good friends, and my husband. 

Have you ever had something traumatizing happen to you? If comfortable sharing, what is it? 
My sister was put into a drug rehab program at 17 years old, I was 11 years old. This “rehab” was worse than prison. In fact there is a documentary being made about it because there has been a high suicide rate of those who were patients. I had to attend mandatory meetings every Monday and Friday for 9 months straight, while I briefly saw my sister being held like a prisoner. These meetings were abusive to me as a child (100xs worse for my sister). It was illegal how they were treating these young troubled kids, and my sister didn’t even have a drug problem. 

I was also in a very abusive relationship for 3 years. He was an alcoholic with a very scary angry problem. I had never experienced being called names, yelled at, and head butted twice leaving me with a black eye. Even though it was traumatic, I was grateful for this relationship because it led me into therapy that helped me heal the parts of me that were attracted to him in the first place. 

Do you feel like you are alone in life? If the answer is yes, What do you think could help you feel not alone? 

Rarely do I feel alone, because I would say my biggest accomplishment in life is having amazing friends. 

 What advice would you give someone going through similar trials? What are your biggest blessings?

Best advice I can give anyone is to invest in friendships. In our isolating culture we need a lot of support and the safety of being truly vulnerable with safe friends. 

Jessica’s Story #7

This amazing woman has a podcast that she does with her husband and ex-husband. I have had the pleasure of hearing her story in person. She is definitely living the 2nd greatest commandment to the fullest and I have so much respect for her.
If you want more details of her story, then go listen to her podcast, Husband in Law. The first episode and you’re hooked!! We were on our way to get family pictures taken when I got the email…  We were officially divorced. The irony of this moment has always made me laugh.  Yes we were almost divorced and I scheduled family pictures. Our daughter had just turned 2 and we had not had family pictures taken since she was born.  I wanted her to have those. I wanted her to know that even though her parents marriage ended in divorce, we loved each other for the seven years we were married and we planned on continuing to love each other.  I wanted her to see that she brought us so much joy and that she was treasured.  

You read that right, we got divorced even though we loved each other, were happy, and had a daughter.  We had created an amazing relationship that was strengthened because of the struggles we went through. But even though the struggles brought us together, they were also what separated us in the end. 

Six months into our marriage I stumbled upon gay porn on our computer and while I knew Steve, my husband, struggled with pornography (something we felt strongly was a detrement to our relationship) until that moment I had no idea it was gay porn.  I knew at that moment that he was gay, some thing Steve didn’t come to terms with until a year later.  

We stayed married because we were happy.  We loved each other. We were in a safe space to get to understand ourselves better which in turn brought us closer together.  But at some point the desire to experience what living a gay life would be like took over. One weekend when I was out of town, Steve had an affair with a man.  He thought he would be repulsed and disgusted. While he felt shame and was torn up for cheating on me, he also felt something that was natural to him and ultimately decided to leave our marriage. 

We got divorced.  I felt like I was losing my best friend and everything I had imagined my life would be.  In spite of this, I felt strong and confident. I realized I had grown, I had changed. I could make this new challenge into something beautiful, just as we had done in our marriage.  We had an unconventional marriage and now we could have an unconventional divorce. One that wasn’t full of anger and resentment but instead we filled it with love and understanding. It was not easy but it has been worth it.  

I remarried just a year and a half later.  I was lucky enough to find an amazing man who was willing to understand mine and Steve’s relationship.  Matt understood why it was important for me to keep a positive relationship with Steve. Matt loved me exactly as I was, he admired and appreciated my strengths and weaknesses.   That being said, Matt and I struggled deeply for the first 2 to 3 years of our marriage. It was the hardest thing I have ever been through. I thought this time around was supposed to be easier.  I had already been through so much, why was this happening? I was married to a straight man, who did not have an addiction to pornography. Why was this so hard? 

A year into our marriage, I had had it.  I was done. I had hit the point where I was struggling to see who I was.  I was worn down and tired. I was losing myself. So one night after Matt went to bed, I left him and note and went to my parents.  I accepted a full time job the next day, I had turned down a couple days before and started looking for places to live. It was going to be so easy to start over again.  I knew I was capable, but it was not what I wanted and I knew that.  

After talking to one of my church leaders I decided to go back.  I went back to our house just a couple days later. Matt was not happy I was there but I was determined.  I let go of all those things we tell ourselves we need to happen to make things right again. “If he does ‘this’, then I will go back.”  “If he apologizes and begs for me back then I will stay.” I let go of the entitlement I felt for things to be perfect, because I had already been divorced once, so things should be easier this time.  “I deserve this.” So I humbled myself even more, and hoped he would do the same. I knew that if we could make this work, we could do anything. I also knew we were perfect together we just. We just needed to figure out how to work through all of the crap we had been through in our first marriages.  It took a couple more years before things started to feel steady.  

We have been married for six and a half years now.  It was a lot of work but we are so happy together and are perfectly matched.  Right now my hardest struggles and insecurities have to do with being a step parenting.  It is hard to find my role and space in this position. Especially when there are so many things out of my control within that realm and so much negativity thrown in my direction from other people in our co-parenting dynamic.  I have to remind myself that I am doing my best. I am learning a whole new level of setting boundaries to protect myself and my family.  

My ex and I have an amazing relationship that brings so much joy into my life.  My daughter is doing amazing. She knows she has parents that love her. She enjoys the blessing of a bonus dad as well as bonus grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings.  I have a husband who pushes me to be my best self, to chase dreams I never thought I would even consider pursuing.  

I don’t have a perfect life but I have a life I love.  I know there will be more hard things to come but for the moment I am going to enjoy every blessing I get right here right now.  

My heart goes out to all of those who are struggling in their marriages with addictions, mixed orientation, remarriage, step parenting, and feelings of losing yourself and sense of self-worth. I share my story to help others know they are not alone.  Things might not go as planned but just because the plan changes does not mean you failed or that you can’t have a beautiful life. There is always hope.  

Her Story #6

I am a mother and a wife.  I am creative, talented, smart, and loyal.
I never feel good enough.  I have a hard time keeping up with everything.  
I worry I will never be happy.  I worry that my husband and kids all hate me.
My marriage has been very bumpy from the start.  It seems like if it is ok for a little bit I have to be prepared for a big fall.  The ups are less than the downs.  I have contemplated divorce a lot.  
We have tried counseling many times.  I have read books on marriage.  I have tried bettering myself.
I sometimes feel like no one has been as unsuccessful in their marriage as I have.  Yes, everyone has trials in their marriages, but I feel like it has been one big never ending trial.  I feel like everyone else has picture perfect marriages.  They all look so happy.
My mom was my dad’s second marriage.  His ex-wife was excommunicated from the church.  She had live in boyfriends that did things to my oldest half-brother.  My half-brother then sexually abused my brother, sister, and I.  My parents and I didn’t understand each other.  My dad sometimes hit me.  I remember hiding bruises from my friends.  My siblings didn’t like me.  I couldn’t wait to move out.  I was close to God, but that was it.  I thought about suicide.  My brother attempted suicide and moved out to a youth home for help.  I got married at age 20.  My husband and I fought a lot.  I was considering a divorce when I found out I was pregnant with our oldest.  Our relationship has bordered on abusive on and off.  I have thought about leaving many times.  My husband had an emotional affair with a woman at work.  He quit talking to me about anything and would email, text, and Facebook message the woman from work at all hours of the day.  I was seriously contemplating suicide.  Then, my oldest full brother committed suicide.  I had recently had our youngest child.  It was hard to grieve.  I blamed myself for his death because I had ignored several promptings to call and tell him Heavenly Father loved him.  My youngest had an accident and fell and hurt himself at a memorial for my brother.  The doctors said our youngest was ok, but it woke me up from grieving and I started to focus more on my kids again.  Recently our youngest was diagnosed with high functioning Autism among other things.  I can’t help feeling guilty and wonder if it is due to his fall.  I still struggle with thoughts of suicide.  
I feel very alone.  My kids prefer their father because he is the fun parent.  I am an introvert and not good with people.  My husband is charismatic and well liked.  I think in a different way than most people and find it hard to make close friends.  I prefer one on one friendships and avoid large groups.  I have made a few close friends, but they have moved and live in different states.  I don’t talk to people about my trials because I don’t want people to think less of me, my husband, or my family.
The thing that has helped me the most through all my trials has been a relationship with God.  Sometimes it was the only thing keeping me from being completely alone.  I have recently lost touch with that relationship and it has only made things worse.  Even though it is not easy, I would say that is the most important thing to give time to in your life.  Faith is very important in keeping perspective and hope.  
I am very blessed.  I have a beautiful home, good food, and all my needs met.  My husband recently got a job where he is much happier.  I have been able to be a stay at home mom and raise my kids.  I have great kids and my husband is a good man that loves the Lord (we don’t always get along, but he is a good man.)  I do love the gospel and am very grateful for the part it has played in my life.