the marriage fight

nine years (he said)

Posted By on Jun 28, 2013

Nine years. 3,285 (give or take) days. 78,840 hours.

45 times longer than Kim K’s marriage.

A long time when you’re only 32 years old. And yet, it seems like not much time at all.

23 year old Jared. Ha, he thought he knew about life, but he was wrong. He thought he know about love, and he did, to an extent. He thought he knew what “for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” meant, but he didn’t.

I still remember that day and the previous day pretty clearly. There was the “fight” the night before, resulting in a pretty sweet rut in our back yard. The good times with friends, waking up to breakfast at Crossroads B&B, the nearly cloudless wedding day, the minister calling me “Brian” when it was time to kiss the bride, the EPIC best man speech, dancing the night away with friends – so many great memories.

And yet that was 1 day. One of 3,285. And while it was an important day, our marriage has been made in the 3,284 days since. In jaw pain, in owning a puppy, training a puppy, having a miscarriage, having Fitzy, experiencing more loss, going through church struggles, developing couple friendships, experiencing more loss, having our marriage commitments tested, going through anxiety and depression….you get the picture.

As I look back, all of these things, and thousands more, have shaped me into the man I am today, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Happy Nine Years, babe. Even knowing everything I do now, I’d do it all again. In a heartbeat.

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I’m crazy (he said)

Posted By on Jun 10, 2013

No really. I am.

At least technically I am.

Or, better put, I struggle with anxiety which at times is mixed with depression. So yeah, I am a little bit crazy.

And I forget things. A lot. Just ask Danielle if you don’t believe me. She’ll confirm it in a heartbeat. And it always seems to be the things she NEEDS me to remember. It’s almost like I try so hard to not forget that I end up forgetting. Go figure.

But I digress. Living with anxiety and depression is the worst. I would probably rank it right under living with a terminal physical illness. And this might sound harsh, but if you’ve never experienced it, you don’t understand, at least not fully.

And I’m speaking from my point of view. I can’t imagine the toll it has taken on Danielle during the 3-4 significant bouts I’ve had since we’ve been married. I can’t say “thank you” enough to her for sticking it out with me. Many other women would have left, and honestly, I wouldn’t fault them for it.

When Danielle refers to herself has crazy, I think of it more as OCD/control issues. Not literally crazy. Maybe annoying would be a better word, but you didn’t hear that from me.

So while her “crazy” is trying to deal with at times, I think it pales in comparison to what she went through standing by my side. Let me give you a little glimpse.

It’s Monday morning. 7:15 AM. The alarm has been on snooze at least 3 times now. My side of the bed is drenched in sweat, and I’ve been up off and on since 4 AM. My stomach is knotted up unbelievably tight, and the though of just getting ready for the day is a daunting, if not impossible, task. Imagine thinking everyone is upset at you or that every little thing you do is wrong. You constantly second-guess yourself. You’ve been going to the gym for a month or so, but now it’s been 3 months, and you haven’t canceled your membership, because that would be “giving up” and really admitting you have a problem.

Welcome to my world from August 2012 through February 2013.

That’s a small glimpse of what Danielle lived with for half a year. HALF A YEAR. She’s a saint in my book.

Of the two of us, I’m the crazy one. But I’m glad my best friend is fighting with me.

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happens to the best of us (he said)

Posted By on Apr 13, 2013

I’ve been a huge fan of The Office ever since we started watching several years ago. It’s hit or miss anymore, especially since Michael left, but I can’t give up on it now.

This season they’ve introduced a new story line where Jim takes a job in Philadelphia for a sports marketing company. Jim took the job without his wife, Pam, knowing. Then he invested a large chunk of change in the startup. Finally he starts commuting between Scranton and Philadelphia, and at this point in the season he seems to be in Philadelphia more often than not.

Along the way, as one would expect, tensions grow. To the point where Jim gets a bit frustrated and “nasty”, if you will, with Pam during several exchanges.

And then it happened. All of a sudden it becomes somewhat clear that one of the cameramen working on the documentary has a thing for Pam.  He saves her from an enraged warehouse employee, offers a shoulder to cry on after a rough conversation with Jim, etc.

I HATE, HATE, HATED this storyline at first. I was afraid they were ruining one of the best story arcs of the entire series. If they messed with Jim and Pam, I was not going to be a happy camper!

Truth is, this story, and stories like it, are all too familiar in our society. It happens to the best of us. I know.

Last year was a rough year for us. We had a 1-year old who was <strong>not</strong> sleeping well, which basically turned us into parent zombies, had just gone through the first of 2 miscarriages of the year and were dealing with settling into a new church after a rough experience. Needless to say, things were stressful.

I can identify with the Jim/Pam arc in that I lost sight of what was important in my life. I started to value other people’s opinions and advice more than Danielle’s, who was (in my mind) kind of driving me bonkers and not really paying attention to me, what with a little guy to take care of and a business to run.

I became a person, that, looking back, I’m fairly ashamed of. I was downright nasty to Danielle at times, lied to her on several occasions and our relationship took a back seat to other pursuits.

I hope Jim and Pam’s story plays out the way ours has. We had some difficult talks. We yelled. We cried. We worked through our hurts. We did the hard work to make things work.

I’m happy to say I don’t even recognize that person from a year ago. Our relationship has improved more than I thought possible at the time. In a way I’m almost glad this happened, because our relationship is stronger now than it’s ever been.

If you’re having struggles in your relationship, you’re certainly not alone, and you’re not a failure. Relationships are hard. Marriage is hard. Perhaps harder than any other relationship you’ll ever experience.

If you need help – get it! Yes, marriage is hard. It’s messy at times. It’s draining, but it is most definitely worth fighting for.

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Like Danielle said, that’s a pretty loaded question, but that’s how we like to roll.

I have to digress a little bit to share one of the things that first stuck out to me about Danielle (besides the fact she seemed to like to wear dark’ish clothes and seemed a bit mysterious when I first met her).

My memory is not the greatest at times, but I remember being wowed hearing Danielle speak Campus Crusade for Christ one night. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but it was clear then (and also before) that she loved Jesus. I’ll never forget hearing her speak (even if I can’t remember it all. Sorry, babe!)

Fast forward to our pre-marriage counseling. A dear friend, who later officiated at our wedding, said something to the effect “if you keep Christ as the center of your marriage, you can make it through anything.” I know, I know. That sounds totally cliché, but it has proven to be true time and time again.

When I look back at all the things we’ve been through in our marriage, and continue to go through, I don’t know how we would have made it without Jesus. I think one or both of us would probably have given up at some point along the way.

I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
<blockquote>Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.</blockquote>
I see myself and Danielle so much in these verses. There have been times where we’ve had to “help each other up” spiritually. When we dealt with our first miscarriage I really tried to maintain faith and encourage Danielle that our time would come, and it did. God was faithful, although we couldn’t understand His plan at that time.

When I’ve battled with anxiety and depression, Danielle has stayed strong for me. She’s walked with me, cried with me and prayed with me. She’s helped me keep my eyes on Jesus during times where it was hard to on my own. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God put us into each other’s lives and knew how we would complement each other and help each other in our faith.

I’d love to sit here and tell you what a great job we’ve done at keeping Jesus the center of our marriage. How we’ve read through the Bible together. How our spiritual growth has just continued year after year of our marriage.

But I’d rather not lie to to you. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus is at the center of our marriage, holding it together, but it hasn’t always been easy keeping Him there, and quite frankly, we often fall short. Many times life gets in the way. Hurt gets in the way. We get in the way and make a mess of things.

That’s the awesome thing about Jesus. He loves us. No matter what. We’ve failed so many times, and we will continue to fail, but that will NEVER change His love for us (and his love for you, too, by the way). And because He loves us, we can share that love with others.

I can tell you this. I have not always done a very good job of sharing that love with the people I know. But my hope is that by reading this blog you can experience the love that Jesus has for you, and let that love transform your marriage into something beyond your wildest imagination.

While you fight for your marriage, fight to keep Jesus at the center of your marriage.

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I remember when we found us we were pregnant for the first time. It was so surreal.

Actually, let me rewind a bit first. Danielle mentioned that I was a bit apprehensive about having kids, and she was absolutely right. Terrified is probably a better word.

I’ve never really shared this with many people, and it’s pretty embarrassing. When Danielle was going through her insane problems with TMJ, I was glad. Not glad that she was suffering but glad to know that meant we’d be waiting a little while before having kids. Terrible, I know.

OK, fast forward to us finding out we were expecting.

It was right before heading to Florida to take part in one of my best friend’s weddings. We had just gotten our new Great Dane, Schrute. Life was so good.

I remember calling people as we were waiting for our plane in Elmira. We got to share the good news with our friends, the Yoders and the Fitches on the way down to the Sunshine state. It was just amazing. I remembering trying to be careful because I didn’t want to steal the thunder of our friends’ wedding.

And then I remember the life-altering bad news. They couldn’t see anything on the ultrasound. Nothing. Just blackness. I remember not even being able to comprehend what was happening. And then Danielle made it home. And I cried. And cried. And cried. It quite literally felt like my heart was breaking. One of the darkest moments of my life, for sure.

But we made it. Life returned to some normalcy, but the pain was there. Little things would happen that would bring the tears flooding again, but life went on.

I had to be the strong one for Danielle. She was in a bad place. She wanted noting more than to be a mama. And it wasn’t happening. For months. And it seemed like everyone around us was being blessed with little ones. It just didn’t make sense. It was a hard 18 months. Trying to remind your best friend that you just need to trust God, even though it doesn’t make sense and even though it was pretty much the last thing she wanted to hear.

And then we watched Danielle’s cousin’s baby for a night. What an eye opener! It was more then either of us bargained for. And then Danielle said she was OK with it just being us for the time being. I couldn’t believe it! I knew it was definitely God changing her heart.

And Boom. We were pregnant again. And terrified and excited and a whole host of other emotions. Like Danielle mentioned it was pretty much a perfect pregnancy. Danielle literally glowed. It was awesome!

On April 28, 2011 I met the most amazing little man ever. Even though I was in the midst of a rough patch of anxiety/depression, it was awesome.

Our lives haven’t been the same since!

Fast forward to 2012. We found out we were pregnant again early in the year. I wasn’t too worried because the pregnancy with Fitzy had gone so well.

Imagine my shock when I found out we were miscarrying again. It was a punch to the gut. I took it really hard, and it took me to a very dark place. I got really angry. Especially with God. Even though it wasn’t his fault. It took our marriage to one of its lowest points, but we survived. Through God’s grace.

A few months passed, and we found out we were pregnant again. Again, I was pretty optimistic, but worried too. We reached the dreaded 8 weeks again, and there was potential bad news. The Dr. said things didn’t look quite right on the ultrasound. We were scheduled for another ultrasound. When the second ultrasound was finished the tech never showed us where the baby was. I had held out hope thinking I had possibly seen a little baby on screen. That hope never played out the way I wanted. We were miscarrying. Again.

This third miscarriage almost sent me right over the edge. I know it was God helping me to hold it together. Again. He was faithful even though I blamed Him once more.

And here we are. We have one amazing, beautiful, happy baby boy in our arms, and three little ones we have to wait a little longer to see. It’s still really hard. Sometimes I’ll hear or see something that just makes me break down. I miss those little ones so much. But I’m so thankful we get to have little Fitzy in our lives.

There have been times throughout these three miscarriages when I’ve wanted to give up. There still are times. But we go on. With God’s grace. Believing in what we can’t see. Holding on to hope. Holding on to Jesus. Holding the hands of a beautiful little boy.

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