Friday, September 28, 2007

My Husband, My Friend

A couple of chapters back in Hannah's Hope, the author was talking about how infertility and recurrent loss can be a breeding ground for infidelity in a marriage. Even without infidelity, this kind of heartbreak can be the catalyst for a marriage-end. I was so stunned to read that, because in our three years of childbearing struggle, James and I have done nothing if not grown closer.

James and I married at not-so-young ages. In retrospect, we were young, but compared to our friends and families who married in their teens or in early college, we were late bloomers. (I was newly 24 and James was two months shy of being 30.) Our first years were really great -- we were young and in love, but old enough to be stable with good jobs and a Ramen-free diet. A month after our one year anniversary, we took in Bub. Three weeks later, we found out I was pregnant with Gracie. We had our ups and downs, our highs and lows, our triumphs and troubles, but all in all, things were good.

When we moved to Texas over three years ago, things changed briefly. We relocated here for James to work for a ministry in Texas, and took a pay cut to do so. After being here for several months adapting to less (a lot less), things got hard. We struggled at times -- we were broke (took a paycut, then went through a layoff, then took a commission-based job that took a long time to turn a profit), we were crowded (two adults and two rambunctious children in a two bedroom apartment for two years), and nothing was the way we thought it should be. There were some heated "discussions" during those times, and I'm ashamed to say it, but the D-Word was tossed around a time or two. Mostly by me. I have (or rather, had) issues.

Those things stabilized pretty quickly, and we realized that volatility was because of the pressure of stress. We resumed our normal effective communication, and at that point began to pursue in earnest the growth of our family. And the journey began:

Months and months of struggle, followed by a pregnancy, ended in loss. Another months and months of struggle, followed by a pregnancy, ended in another loss. Then, a quick and miraculous pregnancy, followed by stability and safety, ended in death. Then a surgery and a wait, another pursuit, pregnancy, struggle, and loss.

When I read the chapter in Hannah's Hope, I wondered when either of us during all of that would have had time to pursue something extra maritally. Her point was that "failures" in childbearing lead to the feelings of a failure in a gender identity, and I get that. I do sometimes feel like less of a woman because my body defies motherhood. It was in that, she said, that some people will seek out the confirmation of their identity, someone to validate their being a woman or a man. Or they'll seek out someone with whom to have sex where there are no strings of shame or pain or guilt or disappointment. That I can also understand. I don't support it, but I guess I can see how that could happen.

But not with us.

The amazing thing about this struggle -- about this whole series of struggles -- is that it has bound us closer together and more deeply than I could have ever imagined.

Before we got married, some friends pulled me to the side to make sure I knew what I was doing. James and I were so absolutely not alike. I had been to Bible School. I had lived on the mission field. I ran a Christian Coffee House and was a booking agent for alternative Christian Bands. My nose was pierced, my tongue was pierced, and my hair was three different colors. (Not on our wedding day, but they had been.)

James was an Aggie -- need I say more? He had a Corps-like haircut, liked country music, drove a sedan and was a salesman. He knew how to line dance, had worked on a farm, and owned an actual pair of cowboy boots. Real ones -- not the fake ones.

There couldn't be two more different people on the face of the earth, and yet we were perfect for one another.

His hair is longer, and I wear maroon.

I am so grateful to have James. Through all of our time together, including that really volatile season, he has been steadfast and reliable. He is so kind and generous to me, to our children, to my family and his own, to our friends, and to those we minister. He is an example of Godliness in his job, and has had the opportunity to successfully defend his morals and convictions several times. He has also had the opportunity to stumble, and to make himself an example of grace because of it.

I miss him when he's gone, and love it when he comes home again.
I anxiously await his phone calls every day.
I genuinely laugh at his jokes, though sometimes they really are dumb.
I love how he behaves with the children. He will both teach and be taught.
I appreciate the sacrifice he makes for me and for our family.
I respect him deeply as a Man of God.

He is my reality TV buddy. We love all the same shows.
He is the reason I not only tolerate football, but truly enjoy it. (Gig 'em, Ags!)
He has been my shoulder to cry on, and I have been his.
He is my #2 in the "Where two or more are gathered in my name" promise.
He doesn't judge me when I'm psycho, but loves me until I become sane again.
He is the true head of our household and our family, and leads us well.
He is the seeker of God's will for all our lives.
He is both my husband and my friend.

God knew what He was doing when he brought us together. He had a plan when He orchestrated this impossible connection. There have been lots of others in and out of our respective lives, but there has been no one for either of us that would have stood by in times like the ones we've had. In all of this trouble, there was never a time that we thought to cast one another aside, but rather, we were knit together with a strong, unbreakable thread. Together, we are bound; heart and soul, we are truly one.

"The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife." 1 Corinthians 7:4

"A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives." 1 Corinthians 7:39

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Ephesians 5:25

"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." 1 Peter 3:7


  • Amy

    I love hearing more of your story and about your love for James!

  • The Dukes Family

    What a great testimony of God's power in your lives. I think you guys are so neat and it's great to hear that despite struggles (which we've all had), you've chosen the Godly road and that God has blessed that by strengthening your marriage so much in spite of (or maybe because of) all the tough times you've endured together.

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