Three weeks before our wedding, my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was just 29 years old. I remember the oncologist telling us to cancel the wedding and our Hawaiian honeymoon, as he would need surgery right away, possible chemo & radiation. But he was unwavering. “I’ve waited my whole life for this woman. I’m not letting her get away!” (Full disclosure, I had been engaged three times prior and always found an excuse to back out.)
But he fought for us. He told the oncologist he would have surgery, and we would be married. We would celebrate our honeymoon in Hawaii. And with the hand of God guiding his surgeon, he became cancer free, as quickly as he’d learned of it.
In the first year of our marriage, a miscarriage. We both walked around like zombies, not really knowing what to say. Not wanting to say anything. We were both numb. I became distant, in my own world, hiding my grief behind closed doors. And again, he fought for us. He wouldn’t let me fade into my despair. He nudged me gently back into life. And a few months later, we were blessed with the news of another pregnancy.
As the years passed, like many couples, we became more about our children, our careers, and the daily struggles of paying the bills; being completely exhausted, and having adult responsibilities. We were no longer husband and wife. We were mom and dad. We were providers. We became all about Scouts and Baseball, Theatre and Dance. Recitals and Award nights.
Date nights were rare. Those nights of sitting on the sofa and listening to love songs were long gone. Sitting on the sofa was now an excuse to fall asleep. And in the morning, it was backpacks and lunches, breakfast and bus stops.
It was routine. It was like we were on autopilot. But marriages cannot survive on autopilot.
And just when I thought I was ready to walk away, he fought for us. He fought hard. And I made it so hard for him. While he was fighting for us, I was closing my heart and sealing it up. I became cold and distant. But he still fought; regardless of how many times I told him it wouldn’t work…he was quietly changing. He was shifting priorities. He was refocusing. He was fighting for us. For our family. For the life we created.
And what happened surprised me. I stopped fighting. I started to feel again. I started to love again.
Marriage can be hard. Marriage can become routine. Sometimes, after a long day, you’re just too tired to do anything, so you sit on the couch and mindlessly watch tv. But he’s there. Right next to you. He’s there: where he’s been since the day you said, “I do” – next to you.
For better or worse, in good times and bad. He’s there. He’s given you his love, his commitment, his heart. He’s become vulnerable to you. He’s told you every insecurity and fear. He’s seen you at your worst – and I’m talking worst – and he’s never judged you, never raised his voice to you, never done anything but love and honor and cherish you.
Life isn’t easy. Love isn’t easy. But anything worth having is worth fighting for. My husband taught me that. He fought for us with an unwavering determination. He fought for us when it seemed all hope was lost. His love and faith was stronger than my doubt.
You know…last year I wrote about being addicted to the Hallmark Christmas movies. Now that they’ve started back up again, I’m starting to feel like perhaps I’m experiencing my own Christmas miracle.
And like the happy ending in all of those movies, I’ve realized – love truly does conquer all.
And it’s worth fighting for.