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The Stories They Leave Out of the Marriage Manual

Some days I look at my husband and think, “I can love this man a thousand years, in this life and the next.” Other days I find myself struggling to figure out how I’m supposed to stand him one more day. Marriage is funny like that. It’s like a roller coaster, complete with that sick-to-your-stomach-feeling you get when you catch a dip you didn’t realize was going to be so steep.

There really is a thin line between love and hate. I should know, my husband and I have danced on both sides more often than I’d like to count. On a few occasions I’ve just been one bad decision away from setting his clothes, his car – heck, sometimes his *ss on fire. Good thing I know better, at least now I do.

The last few years of our marriage have been rough, which is saying a lot considering the first ten was chock full of cinematic worthy drama. I don’t doubt the stories of my marital highs and lows wouldn’t incite screenwriter Tyler Perry into writing part three to his ‘Why Did I Get Married’ movie series.

Let’s see – there was the stupidity of our early twenties, which entailed a lot of partying too hard; his drug dealer turned drug addict years; quickly followed up with the can’t-stop-resenting-him period of my life. I almost forgot to mention in between all that mess every four years we managed to have another kid, all four before I turned 27.

In 2001 we settled down some, bought a house, and got bold enough to start a business. While we did well enough, the arguments stemming from the stress and our difference in management styles took a significant toll on our marriage. At the time I thought we’d outgrown fights where we hit below the belt, but stress like that took our arguments to a whole new level.

All things considered, if I let myself think about it too long I have a hard time reconciling the good with the bad. The lows were just…so low. Truth is, even when you forgive a mistake it still leaves a scar and most of our scars still sting when you touch them. Needless to say, we do better when we keep the past where it belongs, with the bad memories tucked behind the better ones.

A lot of things have changed in the 17 years we’ve been together and not everything in our favor. At 19 years young you barely know who you are or what you want out of life, let alone who you want to spend the rest of your life with. That may be the biggest drawback to settling down at such a young age, you eventually grow up and discover that what fit you perfect at 20, not so much at 35.

It’s a hard thing to look at someone you’ve spent half your life with and try to wrap your head around how much has changed  between the two of you and then how, when you’re not careful, those differences can create a divide that feels wider than any ocean.

Last summer my husband and I got as close as we ever had to divorce. It took a whole lot of soul searching to decide how we were going to save our marriage and, more importantly, if we still wanted to. It was most disturbing to look at divorce papers and realize 16 years of life and love with someone could be reduced to a two page list of  divided assets and a couple signatures on the dotted line. It was our wake up call. Marriage is hard, but divorce isn’t easier.

Sometimes it takes having to get that close to losing what you’ve forgotten means the most to you in order to realize  you’ll do whatever it takes not to have to live without it.

Whatever the shortcomings of this relationship, there’s no denying my husband is the love of my life. It’s the one thing, even on our most awful day, I’ve always been certain of. He’s helped me raise four children, one of them not his own, and another we adopted together. He is my constant and my muse, my reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come since.

On his best day my husband is no Prince Charming, not even a second rate boot leg, but even on his worst day he’s the only man I can imagine spending the rest of my life with. That has to count for something.

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as forever. I fancy myself a realist so can’t say I believe in words that elude otherwise. What I do know is that this marriage is worth fighting for, tooth and nail, however steep the uphill battle. And dear husband, if you can meet me halfway, the universe  might just make a believer out of me.

As for tonight, well, tonight I’ve just been thinking…I can love that man a thousand years, in this life and the next…

**Folks, don’t forget I gain a large portion of my readers by word of mouth. If  you like what you read, if I made you laugh, even cry, please do share my blog post. Forward it via email, Tweet it, Like it, Facebook post it, talk about it.** Much love, MS

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  1. mqualle
    February 18, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    DEAR GOD, AS WE DO NOT KNOW WHEN YOU MADE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, SO AS OUR REALLIFE HERE ON EARTH..SO THE BIBLE IS THE BASIC INSTRUMENT BEFORE LIFE ENDS…IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US..LOVE, LOVE-GOD, LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS WE WALK THIS LAND OF THE LIVING WORLD.
    NO MATTER HOW DIFFICULT AND HEAVY THE CROSS FOR AS LONG AS GOD’S GRACE,LOVE AND BLESSINGS,VICTORY IS TO BE WON..THE ETERNAL REWARD…
    ONE DAY AT A TIME,DEAR GOD,TAKE ALL OUR PRAYERS,WORRIES AND WORLDLY
    DESIRES,YOU KNOW THEM ALL, BEFORE WE KNOW IT…WE SURRENDER, OFFER
    TO JESUS WHO SAVED US AND CALL US BY NAME….BECAUSE OF LOVE,LOVE AND UNCONDITIONAL LOVE……AMEN, ALLELUIA…WE LOVE YOU ALL…

    • February 18, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      Dear Auntie, don’t worry. Rodney and I are hanging on strong and we know we don’t get through this life alone. I know God blesses us with all that we’re privileged to have, including our love and this marriage.

      Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. John 3:16

  2. kristine
    February 18, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Wow, this one hit me right in the stomach, and it hurt! Glad to know I’m not alone in the struggle my sister…<3

    • February 18, 2012 at 5:09 PM

      I’ve been working on this piece in my head for a few months. I thought a lot about our conversation that night in the garage when I was writing it. Marriage is just..hard..then again, when has anything worth having been easy? Love, love, love you and yours. xoxoxo Until the next drink between old friends.

  3. February 18, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Great post! Truthful and fun!

  4. February 18, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Thank you for stopping by. So glad you enjoyed the post. Funny, I hadn’t thought of it as fun, until I read your comment and a few others saying they chuckled. I guess my sarcasm, cynicism, and sense of humor now just flow together. I imagine my crazy sense of humor is now just a coping mechanism for my even crazier life. I’m going to have to jump by your site soon. 🙂

  5. Neicy Nance
    February 18, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Your words always inspire, convict and encourage. Thank you for keeping it so real. – dnp

    • February 18, 2012 at 8:09 PM

      That my mentor is still reading my blog and pleased enough w/what she read she felt compelled to comment on it w/such kind words..well, that’s just proof that the small things can still make my heart soar. Thank you.

  6. February 18, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    Interesting words you wrote in paragraph 8, I can definitely relate to them. I am glad to see that your hubby once again wins it for the best hubby in the world award. Happy to know you guys are staying strong. Stay strong ate.

    • February 18, 2012 at 9:42 PM

      Chrissy! Check my tweets, I just tweeted about you. Man, next post is going to be about you dear sister. Just wait. Don’t worry, It.Will.Be.Great.

      And hey! you and your dirty mind..LOL. Rod doesn’t get the best hubby of the world award, but he does get the ultimate prize for being the husband that won’t stop trying…he gets to be the star in a lot of his writer wife’s essays.

  7. Carrie Reynolds
    February 19, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    My dearest, am soo proud of you to hang on to the ups n downs of life, especially married life. I’d been there with similar situations and love stories, but I made the best decision for my kids and not for myself. I considered all consequences and I took responsibilities for the results. Of course, it was very hard for a single parent to carry the financial and emotional burden to survive tough life. How I did it? With God’s help!!! I did my best and leave the rest to Him. I considered myself a Winner! It is very rewarding to look at RG’s and Aimee’s College diplomas hanging on my wall. Can I ask for more???

    You are very smart independent young lady and I admire you for all your accomplishments. You have all the resources to succeed in any field. Have faith and walk with God… everything is possible! You are a very good journalist.

    My love n prayers to you n family,
    Aunty Carr

  8. Marivic Batesting
    February 26, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Dear (Old) Friend,
    I oftened wondered what happened to my besti from Longfellow Elementary?! I loved reading about your, ahem… “experiences” and my heart goes out to you and your husband. As I read your very well articulated story, it drew me in like I breath air! Relatively speaking, it saddened me a bit to know that I’m not the only tried and convicted, poor little filipina that underwent a complete overhaul before it was due. Not that basking in anyone else’s misery does one any good, but I so LOVED the raw truth you wrote and shared.

    Kudos to my girl! You’re truly an inspiration for the women in dire need of a reality check! Me being the President of that non-discriminating club, appreciates you putting ink to paper with what would’ve been considered highly classified information. Feel me?! I want, no. I NEED to read you on a daily, so don’t be a stranger and holler at your “Old” Friend. STARBUCKS?

    Longfellow Bestie,
    Ms. Marivic b

    • February 26, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      Aww, Marivic..such kind words. So glad you enjoyed the post, and the blog. Seeing your name in my inbox made me smile from ear to ear. Wish I was closer than Texas to have a coffee with you. I’ll be in CA this summer. I’ll shoot you an email. Much, much love. MS

  9. March 1, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Hi Maria,
    Thanks for sharing your personal story here. Relationships with another are the most challenging experience of being human. You sound wise beyond your years.

  10. March 1, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Relationships are hard work indeed. I don’t know if I’m wise, but I’d like to think I’m getting there. Thank you for your comments and for stopping by. I popped by your blog earlier today. I need all the spiritual/self-help I can get so expect me to stop by your site more often. 🙂

  11. Paw
    March 26, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    Awesome writing! Thanks for the email..I’ll be checking out the rest of your blogs..peace!

    • March 26, 2012 at 9:45 PM

      Love that you dropped by. Thanks for reading me and for the compliment. Cheers to you and yours. 😉

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