Growing Together Instead of Apart

This post was originally written and published on A Prioritized Marriage in 2015. Three and a half years later, we've been through a lot more together but the sentiment is still the same. I've added bits and pieces to the post based on things that I've learned since it was written. Those additions are in italics.

use your trials to grow in marriage

I think back on the last year of our married lives at least once a day. So much happened in our lives and the person that I am today is a lot different than the person that I was a year ago. The last twelve months have had their ups and downs and they've taught me a lot about life and myself, but the one thing that I'm always so grateful for is the fact that all of the struggles and celebrations have brought Joe and I closer together instead of driving us apart. We are a better couple today than we were even a month ago and I honestly don't think that our marriage would be where it is right now if we hadn't been through the things that we had in the last year.

The first three months of 2014 were filled with many emotions, big life changes and serious discussions. I started my Bachelor's degree and night classes for my program extremely last minute, we found out that I was pregnant for the first time, dealt with the grief of a miscarriage together, and put an offer on our first house. When the offer we made was accepted and our timeline for becoming homeowners moved up a few months, we changed my school plans again, adjusted our budget accordingly and spent the next two months making plans for how we would turn our house into a home. In May we signed all of the paperwork to become homeowners, jumped into another whirlwind couple of months filled with decision making, demolition, and DIY projects. 

growing together in marriage

Timelines out of our control were shifted, we weren't able to move into our house as soon as we'd planned and had to move out of our apartment a week sooner than expected. The move in process was not as smooth and painless as we'd hoped it would be, but Joe's parents were kind enough to let us stay with them for a few days while we were in between and our families were willing to help us move things into our house so that part went quickly. After we moved in, we lived in construction for another three months while the home renovation was finished up and in the middle of it all, we found out that I was pregnant again and I started another busy semester of school. I ended 2014 with a nasty sinus infection and wasn't able to spend the time that I wanted to putting our house together after the renovations were complete and my semester had ended. Life definitely hasn't been perfect, but we've gotten through it together.

strengthen your relationship

In 2015, our first baby was born almost three weeks early, just before finals. When he was just three days old, Joe was called to be the scoutmaster, a volunteer position for our church that has been hard on our small, growing family with the time that it takes him away from home in addition to the time that he is already away for his job. Before the year was over, we decided that it was time for Joe to make a job change which meant better hours and more time at home with the family.

2016 started with another pregnancy and my graduation. Our fiesty little girl made her appearance two months early, adding more excitement to our lives. Since that time we've endured struggles with postpartum depression, long work hours for Joe during the holiday season, major lifestyle changes when I quit my job to stay home earlier this year and so much more.

"Marriage is hard. But so is parenthood and keeping fit and writing books and everything else important and worthwhile in life. To have a partner in life is a remarkable gift." - Richard Paul Evans

create a strong marriage

A lot of the things that we've gone through together could have easily pushed us apart. We could have let the stress, frustrations and disagreements get to us, but instead we used them to make us a stronger and better couple. The journey that we've been on together encouraged me to make my marriage more of a priority and has taught me not to take the little moments and the things that Joe does for me for granted.

As I look back on the last eight years of my life, I see how each trial that I go through has prepared me to face the next one in my path. Our marriage was good in the beginning, but I had no idea just how great it could be. Yes, life is hard and yes, some of the things that we've been through have seemed almost impossible to push through. I've been grateful for everything that we've gone through together, even if that gratitude hasn't come until long after the trial has passed. I'm excited to see what life has in store for us in the future, not just for the happy moments and good times, but for the challenges as well.

How have the things that you've been through together as a couple made you stronger?

Use the trials and challenges that you go through together to make your marriage stronger rather than letting it tear you apart.