Year four: you were a doozy.
Can I start with that, please? Let me get it off my chest. This 4th year of marriage was not an easy one. I remember reading a book about relationships long ago (I can’t think of which one it was…maybe How To Win Friends and Influence People? Maybe not…it was a while ago) but there’s a concept of relationships being like bank accounts, and you need to have at least an equal amount of deposits going in as withdrawals coming out. If you withdraw too much, you’ll end up in debt and the relationship withers away over time.
Well, I’m so thankful we had three years of meaningful deposits with all of our favorite experiences, like date nights at amazing restaurant, exciting vacations to new cities, music festivals, lazy movie nights at home, cooking dinner for one another, inviting friends over for house parties, and lots of 1-on-1 time. Because I feel like all of that was taken away from us in our 4th year of marriage, and it was hard. And I’m glad we had all of those experiences and memories in our bank account.
I know I’m not alone in saying that the global COVID-19 pandemic put a huge strain on our relationship. There are very few couples who want to be together 24/7 for months at a time with no breaks, and it was weird, y’all! It was so weird to spend literally every single minute in the same house. “I miss missing him” is something I’ve thought to myself several times over the past year. Sometimes I’ll sneak away to a solo night in a hotel, or I’ll drive up to Dallas to see my family, and I realize how fun it is to be reunited with Nate after 18 hours apart. It’s really fun to have dinner with him when we’ve had different experiences in that day, because we have something new to talk about.
Just after we celebrated our third wedding anniversary, Nate’s car accident happened. For more than half of this past year, he was non-weight-bearing on his leg, and then for several more months after that he could only put partial weight on his leg. Filing that away in “things-I-never-thought-would-strain-my-marriage,” but it turns out that having one spouse who can’t walk for half the year is much more than a mild inconvenience…Nate’s injuries tested us in ways I never would have imagined.
In year four of marriage we staged and sold our house and bought two other properties. All of you who have sold a house while living in it with kids, pets, and immobile husband are allowed to weigh in on this. No one else can judge when I say this: that single experience had the potential to completely unravel my will to stay married. Ha! The thought “if I have to load this damn wheelchair and the cat’s litter box and my chunky baby boy into my tiny car one more time I’m leaving my family and moving to Mexico” crossed my mind more than once. It’s fine, we’re good, everything’s ok.
Ok, before this turns into one big long complaining session, let me say a few really sweet things about our 4th year of marriage:
1. This year, I became more sure than ever that I married a man with a strong character. I’ve always known he was right for me, but this year I KNEW. The things Nate has had to endure from his car accident are unimaginable, and he has a lot of things he’ll have to deal with for the rest of his life. Yet he has remained calm, strong, noble, and all-in-all a really solid life partner and fun dad to baby Milo. I seriously don’t know how he is so strong, but I’m lucky to call him mine.
2. Year 4 revealed that we are capable of hard things. Human beings, y’all. I was blown away again and again by the resiliency of the human race, but since this blog post is about relationships, I’ll bring it back to marriage. No one wants to experience 8 surgeries and a global pandemic and moving houses during the first year of parenthood. It sucked. But when hard things happen, you have no choice but to deal with them. It was reassuring to know that we were able to navigate our way through the past year. I want to hope that’s the hardest year we face in our marriage, but I know that’s probably not true. But I really believe that no matter what happens, Nate and I will be able to depend on one another and grow stronger through it all.
3. “Diamonds are made under pressure.” That was my college swim coach’s favorite quote, and he said it every time he signed me up to swim the 400 I.M. (ugh.) I know that our marriage has been made stronger because of the struggles we faced in year 4. I’m really excited to reap the benefits as we go into this next year.
Speaking of reaping benefits, it is seriously time for us to have some fun in our relationship! Life has been a blur of just-getting-by, and it has felt like we’re just starting to catch our breath when we find out that Nate needs another surgery. I’m exhausted, he’s exhausted, and our relationship is due for a little life.
We both recently got the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine, and we’ll get the second round next week. I’m safely into my second trimester, so my energy levels are up and I no longer have all of those debilitating first trimester symptoms. After a year of open wounds, Nate’s final suture line is almost almost almost closed! (Knock on wood…last time I said that he ended up having to go into another surgery to take out hardware and deal with a bone infection. Yikes!) But for real, once his leg is healed he’ll be able to go swimming for the first time in a year! Poor guy. I’m so excited for a family beach trip this summer, a potential babymoon, and some good family experiences in nearby Texas cities.
If I had to put year four of marriage into a phrase, it would be “strong and steady.” Not fun, not exciting, but steady. One day, one hour, one minute at a time. We’re still standing here (like, literally standing, which is a huge deal after all of the surgeries on Nate’s leg 😉 ) and I’m proud of our marriage.
I write this post every year. If you want to peek in on some earlier years of marriage, here are those blog posts: