This year marked my seventh wedding anniversary. It means that my husband and I have successfully avoided killing one another for over nine years. Normally, I’ll post something sweet on Facebook celebrating our anniversary. Those types of posts are rare.
My husband and I don’t often say things over Facebook that we can’t just say to one another. For us, we did that public declaration to one another once: on our wedding day. We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day and prefer to say everything else face to face. The world doesn’t need to see those conversations.
Anniversaries are a little different to me because they are very much like an achievement. I put a lot of work into my marriage, and I am not ashamed to want some recognition for that. My husband could care less, but he doesn’t mind so much when I share.
This year was different, though. Our anniversary didn’t feel celebratory. Instead, it was a whole mix of emotions that I almost didn’t even want to deal with. I felt frustrated and scared and hopeful and angry and loved all in one. To say the last year has been hard would be an understatement.
I’ve watched my husband fall to the depths of despair and slowly start building himself back up again. He’s struggled with depression and anxiety, addiction and recovery. It’s been a hard road, and I am so very proud of him.
But I’m also tired.
This year was almost an, “I made it,” anniversary rather than a, “Look what we did,” anniversary if you know what I mean. It was hard and terrifying. I’ve found a well of strength that I didn’t know I had all while crying to my own mom, “I don’t want to have to be strong anymore.”
We had so many beautiful ups! We welcomed a new baby to our family, our third daughter, and we refinished most of our home together. We watched our oldest get one step closer to teenage-dom and our middle little go through Kindergarten.
We also had a few downs, like when we cried with her as she realized how cruel the world can be sometimes. Or when we said goodbye to Daddy as he left for rehab.
As our seventh wedding anniversary came and went, I found myself reflecting on the last year or two. While I didn’t post a sweet note on Facebook or feel very celebratory, I do feel older and wiser. I think my marriage is stronger, even if we both feel a little broken right now.
I’ve learned more about marriage itself in these last few months than I have in the past few years. I’ve learned more about myself and my husband even. I’ve become a better parent, and I look at other couples around me just a little bit differently now.
I’m certainly not going to jump for joy and say thank you to the universe for sending all the storms my way, but it is through frustration and pain that humans grow and overcome. At the very least, I am grateful for that.