“He’s her lobster”. If you’re a Friends fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you aren’t a Friends fan, well, you should be. But, surprise! Phoebe was wrong and lobsters don’t actually mate for life. What do mate for life? Beavers, penguins and lovebirds (obviously) just to name a few. As humans, we don’t always find ourselves on this list but sometimes we connect with another person who takes the fear out of making a lifelong commitment. You survive together when it’s harder than you ever imagined and you thrive together when life is good. Navigating my spinal cord injury (SCI) while keeping our marriage together has had its challenges, but I never once truly doubted if we would last. He is my lobster penguin.
It’s very difficult to find accurate divorce rates when it comes to couples who were married at the time of an SCI. Shortly after my injury I was told some completely ridiculous statistic that 99.2% of marriages will fail if the woman sustains the injury. While I was certain this wasn’t a correct number, it still got me thinking – and, for a while, worrying – that my marriage was in trouble. Thankfully, we are stronger than this disability.
My injury and the aftermath has tested the core of our relationship from our faith and trust in one another to our physical attraction and how we function as a couple. And while each and every test has shown us that who we are together hasn’t changed, we have learned a lot along the way. Today I want to share three things that I have learned about marriage throughout this journey.
Marriage is not always an equal partnership
So often I hear people say that marriage is 50/50 or 100/100. I can’t say that I agree. Marriage is about picking up the slack when your partner cannot and trusting that they will do the same for you when the time inevitably comes. There have been days in our life where we are both on 100 and our house runs like a boss. Then there are days where the split is closer to 90/10 and one of us is there to take one for the team. Marriage is having faith that your partner will step-up in your moments of weakness with understanding – and without blame – to keep you functioning as a whole until you’re ready to come back to them.
Your spouse will change
Going into any marriage with the expectation that the person you are committing to will be exactly the same person 5, 10 or 50 years down the road is setting yourself up for disappointment. Life is dynamic and we all react differently to the good and the bad; we all change. Be in those changes together. Stay connected and interested and choose to navigate it all as a couple so that the person you marry will always be familiar and safe to you.
Coming through difficult seasons will strengthen you as a couple
When life gets hard it can feel like you are holding on to one another in the midst of a tornado. You reach moments where you think it might just be easier to let go and allow the chaos of it all take you at its will. Don’t. Hold on. Because when the storm has passed, you are able to look back and say that you came through it together. You will have learned things about one another and the strength of your commitment – a commitment that will grow deeper with each obstacle you put behind you. And as low as you descend into your struggles, you will find a new high in the aftermath and feel a renewed sense of faith and love in each other.
The catch in all of this? You have to both want to make it through. Being together for life isn’t what everyone even wants and writing about getting through challenging situations is a lot easier than actually living through them. But I’m thankful every day that I married a man who wants to be with me as much as I want to be with him. We can laugh at certain things that have become a part of our life and still find ways to meet one another’s needs. I was never fearful to start a life with Ian and he has never given me a reason to feel like I made the wrong choice. I suppose we won’t know for sure until the end but here’s hoping an entire life together is in the cards.