Several months back, a fellow blogger, Karee Santos of Can We Cana, put out a request for guest bloggers to share about "How to stay married 10 years and then some." I felt called immediately to respond. I wanted to share not because I have great insights to share about successful marriages. In fact, there are too many times I feel like quite the opposite. I wanted to share because I felt that the complexities and disappointments of life, married or otherwise, can blind us to what we have been blessed with. I have shared many of my struggles on this website. This was by far the most difficult to share. I am thankful to Karee for the opportunity to birth the words. Here is the post as it appeared on her blog:
This is a "Memory Pillow", created at a grief workshop, showing our family.
From a Woman Widowed Too Young: How to Stay Married 10 Years & Then Some
Cyndi married Steve when she was 19 years old, stayed married for 24 years, and became a widow unexpectedly at age 43. Cyndi tells an honest and real story of two people who shared life together through "lots of good and lots of bad times and tried to make the best of things most of the time." Many days, she experiences "regret and longing to go back and fix it all...if only I could."
Even though Steve suffered his first heart attack at 44, his medical recovery was excellent and they mistakenly thought that all was going to be just fine. They looked forward to sharing their future twilight years together and began talking of taking a cruise to celebrate their 25th anniversary. But, Cyndi laments,"the cruise never happened. On April 26, the day before my birthday and two days before our son’s birthday, we came home and found him. He was dead of a massive heart attack at the age of 48. The past several years have been very rough. They have been hardest on my son. I have come to accept the beautiful tapestry of inadequacies that have been woven and revealed through this entire experience. I have come to understand the trials of life are truly God's mercies in disguise.*"
Here is Cyndi's advice on cherishing the years that you have together, because they may be cut short far sooner than you imagine.
1. How many years have you been married and how many kids do you have?
Steve and I were married 24 years when he passed, and we have one adopted son.
2. Name 3 things that helped you to stay married that long.
3. What role did faith play in your marriage?
I have only God and our deep sense of commitment to each other, no matter the pain or cost, to credit those 24 years together. For it was not an easy one for us. We were not married in the Catholic Church. Neither of us was Catholic. He was Baptist by up-bringing; I did not have a church affiliation. We somehow managed a Christian wedding. Many years later I would become Catholic on my own.
Grace is the glue that held us together when we did not have the strength to do it ourselves. God had a plan for us. God has a plan for you. Trust that.
4. What advice would you give people who are dating and considering marriage?
Don’t pay attention to what the media or the world tells you about relationships and marriage. It couldn’t be further from what is real and is not the model you want to emulate.
5. What advice would you give newlyweds?
Don’t run away from the bad times. Don’t run away from each other. Say I love you all the time, because you never know when you won’t get the chance to say it again.
6. What advice would you give new parents or couples who are trying to have children?
We were never able to have children of our own. Infertility is a terrible, destructive force in a marriage. We tried for 13 years before we looked at adoption through our local Catholic Charities. Although Steve had to be convinced to give adoption a try at first, once he was committed, he never looked back and was a truly wonderful and caring father.
So I am only going to speak to the couples that are longing for children and experiencing any type of infertility. It is not an experience that every marriage can survive. Dealing with those pains and disappointments will be a challenge. Stay faithful to each other. Stay committed to each other. Together and with your faith to guide you, you can and will get through it all. Infertility is cruel and devouring monster that is eager to destroy if you let it. Don’t let it. Husbands, sometimes she just needs to be held and allowed to cry her eyes out. Wives, do what you need to do to get through each day. If that means staying away from baby showers, and avoiding the baby aisle of the store, then that is what you need to do. Couples, please just don’t suffer this alone. Find others who are or have experienced this pain and find some friendship and comfort there.
I still carry the scar of my infertility. There are times when it hits me that I have never known the joy of carrying a child in my womb and now, due to age and a complete hysterectomy, I never will. There is an ache that permeates from the soul when you long for a child and you cannot have one. I wish that I could tell you that the ache goes away 100% ...but it doesn’t really ever leave. With faith, the pain can and will undergo a metamorphosis to become that blessing of mercy. I promise.
God bless you in your union, now and always.
*Much of my inspiration is gleaned from the song "Blessings" by Laura Story. Each time I listen to it I am reminded of God's compassionate healing and merciful blessings.
Here are two of what I hope is more to come of motivational quotes that I am calling "Motive Momments." These will be where I share thoughts, or quotes that are not scripture or faith based, but still hold profound meaning and inspiration.
Life is eternal;
and love is immortal;
and death is only a horizon;
and a horizon is nothing
save the limit of our sight.
Rossiter Worthington Raymond
The meaning of Life is to find your gift,
the purpose of your gift is to give it away.
Joy J. Golliver
Feel free to share the images below.
Better late than never, breaking the tiny threads that are holding it all together and ugly brown spiders.
I stumbled on this wonderful post idea that is the brainchild of Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary via one of my favorite bloggers Cristina T at Filling My Prayer Closet. When I read the idea it immediately peaked my interest and I wanted to participate. But the link-up was for 7 Quick Takes on Friday, it was already Saturday. Yet, amid the chaos of my weekend (see all of the below) the thought wouldn’t leave my mind that I should do this. Be forewarned, that yes I am going to use a terrible cliché now. Cover your eyes and ears if you must, because it's better late than never.
Work has been very hectic and trying for me. I am the coordinator of Children’s Formation at my parish. There have been many staff turnovers and lots of changes that I am adapting to while I deal with my unstable and chaotic home life. We have a brand new program at work that I am spearheading and developing to replace our traditional classroom model of faith formation for children not attending catholic schools and it is rooted in the family as the “Domestic Church.” I am excited about the changes and the opportunities that this presents. At the same time, I am building this from the ground up at our parish, and the amount of preparation is exhausting. The program seeks to have parents (or at least one parent) ) attend sessions with the child and to become more directly involved in the child's faith formation. The class schedule has been modified for us to meet only twice a month and on the weeks that we do not meet families will be provided resources to enable them to better take on the role of primary teachers of the faith, just as they promised when they brought their child to the waters of baptism:
“You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking” - text from the Rite of Baptism.
I pray that we can bring to fruition joyful followers of Christ with families and children that truly embrace and nurture that relationship guided by the beauty and truth found in our Catholic Faith.
Thursday night was a terrible night in our household. My son's stability has been perceptibly on the decline. I shared about my feelings of inadequacy as a parent in my post A Beautiful Tapestry of Inadequacies. When I say to you things were terrible, they were genuinely terrible. It has become more and more apparent that my child suffers from extreme anxiety and depression that causes him to explode and become destructive. After getting mad at something, he lost control and broke the television. After breaking the television, he morphed into a shear anxiety attack. He called me home from my errands and the remainder of the night was a blur of arguments, cries and pleas. The most terrible thing is how desensitized I have become to all of this. I have learned to not panic nor take much action when he says he is having a heart attack, or that he can’t breath, or that his vision is blurry, or that he can’t eat or is nauseous, or any other number of ailments that are part of an anxiety attack. I offer the trip to the hospital and then let him decide. Several hours later and we are still where we were when I first came home. Then, a small break-through. He indicates he might want to go to the hospital. After an hour or more of we are going to the hospital, then we are not, we are going, then we are not.. I give-up. By then it is sometime in the wee hours of morning and I just want to sleep a few hours to awaken to a new day.
Friday I went to work as usual, only to be there about two hours before the call came. I was to take my son to the ER to have tests ran. The symptoms he was describing to his doctor (blurry vision, memory lapses, lack of body control - which meant for my son “nervous shaking” ) warranted a trip to ER for a CAT scan. Four hours later and three other tests, all physical reasons were ruled out. Now we moved on to what I have been hoping for, some help and guidance for his untreated mental health issues. Another two hours later and after talking to someone from a local mental health facility, we had our post treatment recommendations. They are the same as they have been the other three times he has been to the hospital over the last several years. Intensive outpatient therapy. Remember, as noted in my other post, after the age of 16 a person has the right to refuse mental health treatment unless a harm to self or others (breaking TV’s, doors, punching holes in walls don’t seem to count) My son, the actor, agrees and nods in compliance to all that the young women tells him they recommend. We go home to battle number two and it is the biggest one of them all...
I am a terrible, horrible mother that does not care about her son and I am going to make him homeless. Thus says my son. I have had to make the tough decision that my son can no longer live with me if he refuses the treatment this time. It is now Sunday and we are still going back and forth. He is petrified. I understand that. And he keeps trying to find ways out of my ultimatum. He keeps asking for compromises. He has exploded, slammed things, cursed, yelled, pretty much called me every name in the book for letting my own son go “homeless.” The front door is broken from the slams. My coffee table ruined. He left for a bit saying he wasn't going to return, only to be with one of my best friends who calmed him down and tried to get him to agree he needs help so that he can move out on his own. The remainder of the weekend there are moments of calmness. Then he thinks about things and it triggers more panic attacks. He is now trying to figure out ways to get out of going. Or he states that he will go but that he will walk out and won’t cooperate. I keep saying the choice is his what he does when he is there, but he has to realize that by choosing to not take part in treatment that means he is choosing to not live with me. I am trying so hard to not break the tiny threads that are holding us together. I need your prayers. I really need your prayers.
I am a sucker for strays. I have six animals. Four cats and two dogs and all of them are a stray or a rescue animal. I tend to take human strays as well. We have yet another homeless friend of my son’s also temporarily staying with us. I guess I am a sucker for those down on their luck. I have allowed three other homeless "friends" of my son over the last two years. I always give them four stipulations before they can stay:
Our current "stray" (and I want to protect his name at this point) has secured employment within the first week and is currently working. He does help about 60% of the time when asked. He is also in the Military Reserves and does seem like he truly want's to get his life together. However, if my son is kicked out for not following through with his treatment, I will have to have this young man leave as well. I cannot keep my son's friend and kick out my own child.
I really need your prayers.
Today is Sunday. After a nice lunch out with my son and his friend , we came home to have my son's friend, the current “stray, ” work off some room and board by helping me to clean the porch in my backyard. I have a walk-out basement which means that the backyard has an upper and lower level. I don’t get down to the lower level porch that is under the deck very often. And it has become over-run by cobwebs and big ugly brown spiders. It turns out that this “buff” young military man is petrified of spiders. I don’t like them much myself. I put on my bravest "you don't scare me big ugly brown spiders" face and I go to work to set the example. I want you to know that we saw far too many spiders for my comfort and sanity level. I got out the hose and I sprayed and sprayed and sprayed to try to wash them away. A temporary fix that allowed us to clean and make the area look presentable. I didn't let the boy see, but more than once after we came in I have jumped and done a crazy doggy style body-shake to knock off what I keep thinking is crawling on me or in my hair.
I have already looked up the number for a pest control agency and I am on it first thing Monday morning.
Here's to a new week that is spider free and with renewed hope that we can conquer this illness.
Evangelizing the digital continent!
We each may be only one person, but together we are
all part of one body.
What is Embedded Faith? Simply put, this is a "gralog" (graphics + blog) providing images and thoughts to evangelize the digital continent.
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