After Jon read Part 1, I asked him, "What do you think I'm going to write about next?"
He said, "The first two years. Hell."
Like most new couples, we were so infatuated with each other in the beginning. We wrote love poems, marveled over how much we both loved sweet and sour chicken, and admired our differences.
Several factors led to the infatuation breakdown. First? Marriage and the stress that comes from living together. Second? Being married to someone we barely knew. Third? No money, no jobs. Four? Both of us came from homes that struggled with conflict. Neither of us really knew how to have a healthy relationship.
It seems outrageous to me to sum up the first two years of our marriage by saying we fought a lot and even talked seriously about divorce. It's outrageous because that sentence is so small compared to the enormity of what we went through. So many days I felt our relationship was like broken porcelain. I knew I could put it back together again with hard work and I would labor over it, struggling to control Jon, struggling to control circumstances beyond my control. I felt like the pieces were all at my feet and that somehow it would be reparable.
One day, I knew it wouldn't be fine. I looked at the broken pieces and found some irreparable, knew there were missing pieces. We talked to other people. We tried to make lists. We made "I feel" statements. We forgave each other and consistently brought up the issues that were 'forgiven.' I know there were good times, too, but what we both remember was being constantly at odds.
I started drinking again after over a year of sobriety. I talked to a friend who said divorce would be better than struggling all our lives. Several friends. This combination led to Jon moving out. I did not respect him, I did not respect our marriage, and I was tired of trying so hard to make it better. Certainly Jon played his own part in everything, but I'm not going to highlight his flaws. I know he would agree that we were both at fault.
I can remember thinking that I wasn't going to dwell on the fact that my marriage failed. I was going to just start over.
Then? I got the stomach flu.
Jon was staying with his brother at the time, but we still were on stilted speaking terms. I called him and asked him to bring me a Sprite, that I was in bed horribly sick. My husband, who had plenty of valid reasons not to come help me, did indeed bring me a Sprite. He came and took care of me for two days. That was the turning point.
It amazes me that God used that time to help us. The stomach flu saved our marriage!
I started going to AA after that, and Jon was very encouraging, attended meetings with me, forgave me so freely. I started dedicating myself to praying for him daily because it helped me to see things from his point of view. I also started going to therapy, which changed my life. I had learned so many incorrect ways to deal with life when I was a child and it took time for me to teach myself new and better ways.
Again, I highlight what I went through, what steps I took. This is not Jon's blog, and if he wants to share his role, he can. I can say that changing me, my thoughts and expectations, helped me tremendously when it came to overlooking his flaws and being merciful towards him.
Our relationship didn't become perfect, but it became peaceful where it had been tumultuous. We really started healing and working as a team. Team Minor, we say as we bump fists.
Part 3 of our real romance? Just this: Real romance isn't flowers and fairy tales. It's dedicating yourself to the person you vowed to be with. It doesn't matter that friends or society tells you that it would be better to give up when times are tough. GOD HONORS YOUR DEDICATION! and He will see you through. Romance is knowing where we've been and never going back there. Our romance is based on trust and mutual respect. We want better and we're willing to be selfless to get there together.
*Note* This advice is for Christian couples. I know that people who aren't Christians can stay married, but I have no idea how. God really is what kept us together.