By Gina Stout of Stage Too
My husband is not my soul mate. I was not created for him, and my husband was not created for me. Love at first sight is not real, and there is no such thing as “happily ever after.” None of those things exist.
But I do believe in true love. Love that is forged over time, and like coal turning to a diamond, shifts and changes into something precious and beautiful, stronger than ever before.
I believe in that, because that is what I have.
True love does not come easily. Letting someone in to your most vulnerable and learning to share everything about yourself without losing your sense of independence is a tricky balancing act. The movies don’t show what happens after the wedding because marriage is so damn hard. There are definite highs but also lots of lows. But if you stick it out during the low times, you will make it back to the highs, like the ocean tides always moving and changing.
There have been days when I wanted to give up — days where I did not want to be around my husband, and I have no doubt that he has felt the same. There have been sleepless nights and mornings where the room was filled with tension instead of chatter. We get angry, slam doors and raise our voices. But we don’t give up; instead we work through it because nearly 10 years ago we made a promise to one another that we would. For the last 2 years we have been pushed to test the limits of our vows to emerge a united front, clinging to one other more tightly than before.
Seven years and 2 children after we said our vows, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. With the 3 words uttered by the doctor, all the air was sucked out of the room and everything changed, including our marriage. Our roles changed, and he became the caregiver; our relationship became even better than before. My husband was there every step of the way, holding my hand, taking in all that was said and asking questions – the ones I was afraid to ask.
The day after I was diagnosed, I had to have an MRI. He insisted on coming to that appointment even though I assured him I was fine, that my mom was coming and he needed to save his vacation days for later.
I nearly passed out when they started my IV; he jumped up, yelling for the nurses and fanning me to keep from fainting. He distracted me with his jokes and knew not to look at me with pity or treat me as if I were fragile.
I was unable to complete the MRI due to the massive panic attack I had nearly immediately after the machine started. I was rescheduled for the following day and prescribed something to, hopefully, calm me enough to complete the exam. He insisted on being there even though, once again, I said I would be fine.
And the next day I was. But it wasn’t the 1 mg pill that helped me; it was his warm hand that held mine for a solid 40 minutes as I lay face-down in a tube despite the discomfort it caused him. He knew I was claustrophobic, he knew that although I wanted more than anything to be strong and to let others think I could go through this with my head held high, inside I was crumbling.
The morning of my mastectomy he held me close and told me what I needed to hear – he would love me just as much with a 5 inch scar spanning where my breast once was as he did the day he proposed. He prayed with me, held my hand as the needle popped through my skin and into the port to deliver the first drop of chemo. He looked at me the same even when my hair fell out and I lay in bed, too sick to participate in our family. He rushed to the ER and silently prayed when the doctors feared I had a blood clot in my lungs.
But he never cried around me, never let me see the fear that I know ran through his veins because he felt the need to be my rock. He did all these things and so much more. Never complaining, never questioning, always protecting me and being the man I never knew really existed; the kind of man most women dream of.
He has upheld his vows. He has cherished and loved me in sickness and in health. We have remained faithful to one another, never straying, always fighting for our marriage during the bad and celebrating during the good. There has been so much good.
Many do not have the “happily ever after” to their story. Many marriages crumble and fall under the weight that is life. We are still in the thick of it, clawing our way through careers, parenthood, and all the other responsibilities that come with being an adult — the same things that chip away the bond that eventually breaks for so many couples, leaving many scared to get married for fear theirs will fail.
When we first got engaged 11 years ago, I was asked, “How do you know he is ‘the one’?” Although I knew he was, at the time I could not answer this question. Now, 10 years into our marriage and after enduring so much, here is my answer:
If he is the first one you want to tell news to, good or bad, exciting or boring – just because you want him to know. If you can ride in a car with him for hours in silence, not filling the space with the sound of chatter because you are content to just sit with him. If you can tell him your dreams and your nightmares without being judged, and he shares his own. If he allows you to be yourself, loves you the way you are — flaws and all. If he is your best friend, confidant, therapist, and cheerleader. If these speak to you, then there is a pretty damn good chance he is the one.
I may not believe in soul mates, but I have found my one true love.
This post was originally published on Stage Too.
About the Author
Gina Stout is a working mom laughing at the absurd to keep herself from crying into a bag of cookies while pounding back coffee. Her writing has been featured on Sammiches & Psych Meds, Scary Mommy, Bon Bon Break, and Mamalode to name a few. You can laugh with or at her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or her website Stage Too. Take a look, you’ll like what you see.