March 15, 2014
When we first got married, I would often hear that my wife and I were in our honeymoon phase. I did not want to believe the sentiment. Despite our ups and downs, after a few months and then past the first year, it seemed as if we overcame the honeymoon phase and proved critics wrong.
I attributed the success we had in our marriage to our intentionality. Frankly, I believed that I was more intentional than my wife. I spent months in preparation for marriage. Mentally, I read numerous books to equip myself with tools for a successful marriage. Emotionally, I wrote letters to my future potential wife. Spiritually, I prayed for guidance and fresh revelation.
We had a short, intense engagement. It consisted of seeking counsel from our spiritual mentors. We involved our friends and community to assist us in laying a solid foundation. We participated in premarital counselling and were told we had a healthy baseline. Our families were well involved along the journey with the anticipation that marriage would mean the joining of our two unique families. While we had our hiccups, we created rules to protect us physically and emotionally as we strove to maintain purity and integrity of our beliefs.
During our engagement, there were challenging moments as we balanced wedding planning and pursuing our careers as young individuals. One key moment was when my wife felt that it was difficult to talk to me about our wedding because of various challenges of my work. As a young, naive man, I felt I had to make a grand stand against the common narrative of work disrupting marriages. Thus, I decided to quit and see what paths I could discover.
Regardless of my personal career, I wanted to be intentional to always put my marriage first before anything else. I knew my wife was a gift from God and most of the days felt that way. Our early marriage was not a delusional bliss. It was real and wrought with tensions, arguments, and fights. However, the love was genuine, strong, and passionate. We were comfortable with not liking each other at certain times, yet knowing that we always loved one another.
The next few years, we started our journey of learning and discovering more about one another. We enjoyed dating each other without being in the grey zone as a casual couple. We were present in each other’s vast social circles. We were welcomed in each other’s family. It seemed as if nothing could throw a wrench in our marriage. I was proud of our marriage. I was proud to be married to my wife. I wanted to be an encouragement to other existing couples and new ones to be. Perhaps this was the beginning of our downfall. My pride.
When my wife and I started talking about children, we came to our first big disagreement. Usually, our arguments would revolve more around how we communicate, rather than the actual content of what we are communicating. I was unsure about having children, but after some discussion, we moved ahead. We now know the struggle of fertility, but we were “blessed” with conceiving almost immediately on our first try.
We were happy and prepared to welcome a new life. As a young couple, we were both unaware of the challenges and difficulties of having a child. The regular checkups were all going to plan. At the twenty-week checkup when we were supposed to find out the gender of the child, we discovered horrible news. The child did not make it. We faced our first miscarriage. While a miscarriage can be hard enough on its own, I was left to face an even graver situation. Due to complications, my wife was diagnosed with a rare disorder. She had a 50% chance to live, according to the clinical studies.
Fortunately, her life landed on the lucky side of the coin. However, the emotional and mental damage was done. I never wanted to have a child at the risk of losing my wife ever again. If I had reservations before, now I was adamantly opposed to the idea. Perhaps, I was still in the honeymoon phase of our marriage.
After the trauma subsided and we had difficult conversations, we decided to try to have a child again. I had the lingering feeling that we would be throwing a wrench into something that works so well. However, I knew my wife would be incomplete if she were never to become a mother. We were “blessed” once again with a quick pregnancy and my beloved daughter was born, August 5, 2018.
August 5, 2018
As most first time parents, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. On top of becoming new parents, we were adjusting to life in a new city, taking classes as a student, existing work challenges, and juggling new relationships. We had multiple sleepless nights. Our eating habits revolved around feeding a new born. We lacked a clear sense of routine. However, each time our daughter would smile, all the difficulties would melt away. Every new development and accomplishment, made the journey seem worth it. Whenever we paused and were able to breathe on a sunny day, our family of three felt right. Our marriage weathered the storms because we filled our love bank with an abundant amount of deposits prior to having our first child.
After seven months, we decided it would be best that my wife would go back to work, while I took on the responsibilities of being a full-time caregiver. I thought I was a little more mature at this point, but experience once again revealed my naivety. This transition took a bigger toll on me personally than becoming a father. It took even a bigger toll on our marriage. While my wife faced her own struggles of becoming a mother, I was lost in becoming a father and what it revealed about me as a person. This combination of struggles was super detrimental to a love bank that was already being quickly depleted. We weathered through the next couple of years in volatility. It seemed we could put our marriage on hold as we just got through the newborn years. We would fill our love bank with sporadic moments of love and presence. Yet, we were certainly withdrawing faster than the deposits came in.
As if things could not get any more difficult, what would become a global pandemic started in January 2020. Lock downs happened and a new, strange world order began to unfold. With a great amount of luck and some reasoning, I knew we could not survive in our 550 square foot apartment. We began looking for different accommodations. After considering many factors, we eventually relocated to a new province. During this time, we also wanted to live together with my brother-in-law. As we juggled so many different moving pieces of life, we eventually got to our new house. After the dust settled, I realized we moved into a beautiful house, but we brought with us an ugly home.
It was at this moment that I realized the actual state of our marriage. It was about two years into parenthood and our marriage felt unrecognizable. I used to think, how can two people who love each other so dearly, get divorced? Before, I never could even fathom the thought. Now, I saw how slippery the slope could be from where we were to that point. I knew something had to change. I wanted to save the marriage that I was so proud of. After all these years, it felt like it was the only thing I could show for in my life.
January 3, 2023
The next two years were a battle to rebuild our marriage. I participated in counselling, something I thought I would never do or need. I revisited old journal entries and old books. We tried reigniting some of the ways we knew how to connect as a couple. We tried to be intentional, again. However, life kept getting in the way. We were still discovering parenting. We were challenged with shifting roles and dynamics. We were yet again in a new city, with new people, and lock downs from the pandemic. We battled never-ending sicknesses. We faced two more miscarriages.
Somewhere along the journey, it felt as if we were going towards a positive direction. But then, our fights would become more hostile and intense. My patience was nil. I did not want to be close to my wife. I shut down. I did not care to understand her feelings. I did not want to make peace. I was losing my fight to be loyal. I actually said, I’m at the end of the road. Let’s not keep fighting and go our separate ways.
My wife and I hit another dire fight at the end of 2022. I was not sober, so it seemed the issues were exaggerated. But then we got into another tiff January 3, 2023. It is mind boggling to even write the story from the beginning to where we are now. It is mind boggling how there could be such intense mixture of emotions and feelings. I was tired, sad, and defeated. My wife, who is normally the more hopeful one, cracked and said maybe we are done. We yelled. We cried. We fought.
We did not know what to say. We did not know what to do or where to go from here. I was fearful and doubtful that our marriage would survive, especially as we await a second child.
We sat in silence.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 NIV
There was something powerful about reflecting on this verse while we sat in silence. It is a common exercise I practice when it comes to my own personal goals and effectiveness. Begin with the end in mind. It was a posture I took to try and rebuild our marriage and deposit more love in the bank in preparation for the second kid. Yet, I never practiced the lesson with and in the presence of my wife.
At that moment, everything faded. I remembered the fragility of life. I remembered the delicateness of my wife’s life. The immediate fight we had became a non-factor. The fear and doubt of our future marriage became less daunting. The past pains and hurts, became a little more tolerable.
It seemed as if nothing could save our marriage. We knew we were to be together. But how to journey ahead seemed insurmountable. Then, it seemed as if God threw us a lifeline.
When we number our days as a couple, then it is easier to appreciate the other in the present moment. When we number our days as parents, we find it more bearable to withstand the challenges of parenting. When we number our days, we know planning for our life ahead is a false expectation and entitlement towards the uncertainty of life.
I don’t have an overwhelming sense of joy after this moment. Despite my wife and I hugging and reconciling, my heart feels tired and exhausted. Yet, I have a strange peace that transcends understanding. I think that is enough to weather through the next few months in preparation for a second child. I think that is enough to reimagine what it means to fill our love bank. I think that is enough to save our marriage.
Number your days.