Marriage is hard. My husband and I did pretty well at juggling work, other relationships, each other, and being adults before we decided to throw a child into the mix. He already had two children when we met, and I watched him manage the struggles that can come with coparenting. There were many days he didn't do it with ease, but I developed a deep respect for how hard he worked to be the best version of himself for his kids. Watching him parent and seeing what an amazing father he was made me excited to have kids of our own. Parenting our own child together would be easy compared to all of that, I assumed.
I was wrong.
When you see your child face a near-death experience, it rocks you to the core. And in the four years since that diagnosis, our marriage has taken a serious beating.
When our son was born, our lives felt complete, and our marriage couldn't have been better. Our son made parenting easy the first five months of his life. He rarely cried, wasn't fussy, and was a genuinely happy baby who allowed us to sit back and enjoy the beauty of parenthood. But, just when I thought I had seriously lucked out, life stepped in. And before we knew it, we were sitting on opposite sides of a hospital bed watching our seemingly perfect child fight for his life. Since that day, our marriage became really hard to navigate.
When a child is diagnosed with a chronic illness, the entire family suffers. Just as we made our marriage vows, my husband and I vowed that we would not let this diagnosis break us. We had heard many stories of how having a medically complicated child could tear a marriage apart, and we've witnessed it happen to several great couples along the way. We know why it can happen because we, too, have been at a few breaking points in our marriage. From the moment we heard our son had a brain tumor, my husband and I haven't been the same.
When you see your child face a near-death experience, it rocks you to the core. And in the four years since that diagnosis, our marriage has taken a serious beating. No one teaches you how to navigate the feelings of guilt, anger, and pure exhaustion you experience when your child is sick. There have been many times that the sleepless nights, mental strain, and overwhelming financial weight of this journey have left us frustrated, agitated, and straight up annoyed with each other. We couldn't imagine staying together for one more day, never mind a lifetime.
When you have to work so hard to balance your own emotions and fear as you watch your child suffer, it can be extremely difficult to find the sympathy and compassion your spouse deserves from you as they suffer themselves. There have been times we've both looked in each other's eyes and said, "I can't do this anymore. I want out." But no matter how close we've come to calling it quits, we rally and make a choice to work through the next struggle that comes our way together. Some struggles are more difficult than others, but I find my husband's effort to make our marriage work one of the most attractive things about him. I accept his imperfections, and he accepts mine, too.
Parenting changed our marriage in so many ways. But we made a vow the day we got married, not a fleeting wish. The more we choose to overcome our struggles, the stronger our foundation becomes. And through the most difficult obstacles we've overcome, I've realized that I find new ways and reasons to love my husband. Sure, some days we can't stand each other, but no one knows what I'm going through like my husband does. He's my family. He's my home. He's my person. And that's definitely worth fighting for.