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.
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