It’s Still Worth It

by Anonymous

Four years ago, I met a man and fell in love. Eighteen months later, after I finished my first year of college, he moved countries to be with me and we got married. We then moved countries twice more in the subsequent two years. He sacrificed a career opportunity at one point to be with me; I sacrificed a great opportunity for school to be with him. We bought a house and winged the financing, scraping it together.

We’ve taken a lot of concrete risks. Some of them have gone well and some have gone belly-up. The biggest risk was believing that our relationship could handle all of it—that it could handle anything. After all, that was why we got married.

I wish I could say that the challenges (and successes) we’ve faced in the past few years have made us stronger as a couple. But they haven’t. Today, we are less kind, less patient, and less understanding of each other than we were on the day we got married, and in large part, I think it’s because we tried to do too much. We wore ourselves out. I was wrong. Our relationship can’t handle anything.

I am bitter and sad right now (in case you hadn’t noticed) because I don’t know what is happening to us—whether this is the beginning of the end or just a rough spot that we’ll look back on in wiser, happier years. The cliches say not to be afraid of failing because that’s the way you learn. But sometimes you don’t learn anything at all. Sometimes, all I can say about failing at something is, “Well, that really sucked.”

In a few months or years, I will probably think I lacked perspective in saying that, because in a few months or years, whatever is happening to me now will be part of getting me to where I am then. I will be able to say, “Look! I never would have gotten here if X hadn’t happened.” Right now, I know this: it sucks that our relationship is a shadow of what it used to be. And also, I am damn proud I married this man.

You see, what I really like about the human species can be summed up in two things. One is goofiness (for example, when “Gangnam Style” became a worldwide viral hit, it made me love being alive that much more). The other is that people are willing, sometimes, to say things like this: “I know that I don’t know what is going to happen to us, or what we’ll do or what kind of people we will be in ten years. I know that maybe someday, we could crash and burn and be those divorced people who throw out all the pictures of their exes. But today, right now, I love you so much that I don’t care. I don’t care that I might someday become the kind of person so angry and frustrated with you, so disgusted with us, that I might pour a perfectly good batch of pancake batter down the drain. Today, I’m telling you I’m going to try. I’m willing to take that chance if you are.”

Or at least that’s what I hear when I go to a wedding. And I can’t imagine anything more beautiful.

You don’t have to learn something or grow or have gotten to something better somewhere along the way for a failed risk to have been worth taking. There are some things that just plain make humanity worth its salt. And the courage to love in the face of uncertainty is one of them.

Photo by APW Sponsor Lisa Wiseman

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  • I really hope you get out of the suckiness soon. Internet hugs.

  • Anon2

    This is awesome. I really, really appreciate when people acknowledge the gamble that marriage essentially is. I’m in what I’d describe as a potential rough patch in our marriage, and we’ve just made the decision to go to therapy together. This decision makes me ridiculously happy, and makes me love my husband so freaking much that it’s weird that I think our relationship is at risk for trouble. But, you know – life.

    • TeaforTwo

      I have found that when things seem on the verge of a breakdown is also when my relationship feels strongest. We had a rough patch this winter that nearly ended our relationship, but instead it forced us to talk about the issues we were having, face up to the fact that they were real, and then fight to work through them. Jarring ourselves out of autopilot and taking one another for granted made me feel really close to my partner.

      And then instead of breaking up, we got engaged, and will be married this December. It stops my heart to think about how different my life would be if we hadn’t fought through the darkness together.

  • Ella

    I needed this this week. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Cleo

    Sometimes there’s a post here that just SAYS it. Commenting feels inadequate because there’s nothing left to add.

    For me, this is one of those posts.

    “In a few months or years, I will probably think I lacked perspective in saying that, because in a few months or years, whatever is happening to me now will be part of getting me to where I am then. I will be able to say, “Look! I never would have gotten here if X hadn’t happened.” ”

    That part especially. Best wishes.

  • Shiri

    “The biggest risk was believing that our relationship could handle all of it—that it could handle anything.”

    Oof. Yes, yes. This is brilliant. I think it describes two important things: 1) the risk we take in getting married and that leap of faith and 2) the confidence/arrogance we have in our own and our relationship’s strength. It’s such a fine line, knowing when it’s a leap and when it’s misplaced confidence.

    I hope things get better for you. I hope you can rebuild from the base that sounds like it’s still there. I hope you are able to eventually look back on where you are now and appreciate it for where it led you, and I hope that it will be leading you together with him.

    • KB

      I totally agree – I think the obliviousness with which we toss around the idea “We can handle anything!”, that’s what gets us in the worst trouble because it gives us license to hurt our partners, or at least take them for granted. My husband likes to say that resentment is the poison to all relationships, it’s like the road of no return. Once you start resenting someone, it can just chip away at a relationship until it’s just a shadow of it’s former strength.

      I agree that sometimes there are no “lessons learned” at certain points in your life – or the lesson is, “Hey, go back in time and don’t do that!” which is so not helpful. But I’m glad that the OP shared this so that everyone can reevaluate how they look at their own partner and maybe be a little more kind to them.

  • Ana

    Yes! Part of our wedding vows were “I choose you as you are, loving what I know of you and trusting what I don’t yet know” and sometimes the “don’t yet know” parts are effing terrifying.

  • Marguerite

    Thanks for this. Really needed to read this today. I feel less alone knowing that I’m not the only one dealing with these things and feeling these sucky feelings.

  • KINA

    Weirdly, this post makes me believe in marriage more than any super happy post ever could. Thank you.

  • Alicia

    “You don’t have to learn something or grow or have gotten to something better somewhere along the way for a failed risk to have been worth taking. There are some things that just plain make humanity worth its salt. And the courage to love in the face of uncertainty is one of them.”

    That “needing it to be worth it” is the part that scares me the most sometimes about risks. Thank you for the reminder of why when it comes to marriage, it is enough on its own.

    Best of luck. <3

  • I think too often that if the story doesn’t end in “happily ever after” that the story is a failure. If we truly believe that the journey is the reward, than we should enjoy each moment for what it is, and not only as a stepping stone to something more.

    I’m hoping your days get brighter ahead, but if they do not, I’m glad for you that you can still say it was worth it..

    • ahh…that was supposed to say,

      if the story doesn’t end in “happily ever after” we THINK that the story is a failure…

  • Lira

    This is so brave and honest. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Anon

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    I’m in a similar place right now. 4 months after our wedding, my fiancée may be loosing his job and I’m looking for work too – a dear friend recently said to me, “I wish you guys didn’t have to go through all this, right after coming back from your honeymoon!” – but life is like that sometimes – and it makes me realize that marriage exists because of times like these, not in spite of them.

    I’ve been trying to be there for a very dear friend whose boyfriend is dealing with some serious mental illness issues. They want to take this leap of faith and get married. I’ve been expressing a lot of concern to her, questioning her decision – but maybe I need to step back, let go and realize I may just be witnessing a rough spot – and maybe holding on to him in the face of uncertainty, is the best thing she can do. I don’t know where you draw that line, when to take that chance, and when it’s just too much.

    No easy answers here. But thank you for writing. This is such a rich topic. And your thoughtful post addresses it beautifully.

    • It’s posts like this that I think are some of the most important ones on this site. Too often in wedding planning we get caught up in the fairytale that is weddings, but relationships are real and they can be quite difficult at times. I think it’s really important to highlight that this journey we are on doesn’t always end the way we expected, it’s not always sunshine and roses… but we do it because it’s worth it, even in the struggle.

      I know my fiancé and I have been through a lot — long distance (for a short time, transatlantic long distance), death in the family, financial struggles — in our four years. Right now I’m unemployed after being laid off from my job (second time in one year! what!!?) which is just another blow in a string of unfortunate events in our lives here lately. These things certainly have a sort of uncanny ability to test our relationships (mine has also had its rough waters). But no matter what happens, it’s worth it.

      Thanks for putting it in perspective. I wish you the best of luck and I hope with all my heart that you come out on the other side with a strengthened relationship.

    • Sorry btw… I meant to make a comment… I don’t know how I ended up replying to you. I do love your comment though :)

  • Steph

    So. My marriage is great. But I still really appreciate this post, because I recently took a risk and failed. And it’s been a journey (that I’m still on) of getting to the place where I can say “I tried. I failed. It was still worth it” and mean those words.

    Holding good thoughts for you and your marriage :)

  • MegsDad

    “There are some things that just plain make humanity worth its salt. And the courage to love in the face of uncertainty is one of them.” I rarely find wisdom expressed so clearly. even at APW. To parse my words carefully, I feel sorrow for what is happening to you, but I do not feel sorry for you. Sometimes life just sucks. There is no virtue in suffering, but there is in courage. The difference is important.

  • Addie

    Agh, APW how do you always know when I need a swift kick in the pants? As I am about to through the proverbial pancake batter down the drain, this post made me take a good hard look at what I’m really doing. Which is being terrified of a huge leap I’m about to make. Taking risks are hard! And promising to deal with another person’s shit forever is really, really hard.

    I just try to remember an old snowboarding adage: If you’re going to fall, try to fall uphill.

    Onward and upward.

  • Rosie

    I’ve been thinking about this recently: that even if we don’t end up with the fairy tale ending, I hope I could look back and be pleased that we got married, because it shows how important that relationship was to us at that time. I agree with other commenters that the journey should be important, as well as the destination or relative ‘success’.

    • I am in the non-fairy-tale ending situation….and I am still glad we got married. We had a beautiful relationship. Until the (very recent) end (well, we are still married but my husband left me). But I try to separate the two. So….I hope you never face this situation, but I wanted to say that there is hope if you do.

      • Rosie

        Thank you for your reply, I’m glad you can still appreciate what was. I hope that things improve for you, whatever that might look like.

      • I am also in the non fairy tale ending. recently, same situation, my husband left. I’m struggling with the questions that can’t be answered, the whys and the what ifs. It’s very reassuring that you have been able to look back on the marriage as beautiful and not regret it. I hope to get to that place, it’s painful to think back on though. but thank you for the glimmer of hope and optimism.

        • Erin,

          I am so, so sorry to hear you are in this situation. It is so incredibly painful. There just aren’t really words…

          Two books have been incredibly helpful to me in surviving this: How to Survive the Loss of a Love (I read this about every night before bed- I think I am on my 3rd time through now) and Vikki Stark’s Runaway Husbands (I have started my 2nd time through this one). I will be thinking about you… Let me know if I can help somehow. You can leave a comment on my blog, and I will be able to see your email that way.

          I wish you healing and better days ahead.

        • And Erin, hang in there… I will be thinking of you.

          • thank you so much. I will definitely pick up those books, I really appreciate your kindness and help :)

  • Leoka

    Thank you so much for this post.
    My marriage was at a huge risk for about half a year, right after the wedding. We’re slowly building it back up now. Wedding is one day, and then the life goes on.
    I learned so much from this struggle. I learned to live one day at a time and be grateful for what we have NOW, instead of expecting “happily ever after” and demanding a promise of it.
    Whatever future holds, today I’m happy. And no matte how painful it was at times, it was all worth it, I learned so much, I became a better person because of it.

  • I love this: “the courage to love in the face of uncertainty.”

    I hope I can one day again have that courage.

    • Karyn

      You will. It just takes time.

  • I love so much about this post, most of which has been covered by other commenters already. I just wanted to add that it’s refreshing to read someone able to just say “This sucks.” So often, we feel like we have to add “but at least…” or “It could be worse…” I think because we’re heading off all of the other people who will say it to us if we don’t. Sometimes things just suck. I’m not saying we should just sit and wallow, but we ought to be able to acknowledge it. So good for you. I’m sorry this sucks and I hope it sucks a lot less very soon.

  • Anon

    “Today, we are less kind, less patient, and less understanding of each other than we were on the day we got married, and in large part, I think it’s because we tried to do too much. We wore ourselves out. I was wrong. Our relationship can’t handle anything.”

    This is exactly where we are right now and really hard to read- I’ve been hoping that it’s “just a rough spot that we’ll look back on in wiser, happier years” and haven’t even let myself think that it could be “the beginning of the end.” Though it sucks to be forced to think about that as a possibility, it also gives me the push I need to have a serious talk with my husband about what we’re dealing with.

  • Heather

    I really do admire your clarity. I don’t think I realized the power of failure over a relationship until I moved in with my fiance. We dated nearly eight years before we got engaged, moved in together a month later, and I had that smug feeling of “we’re the exception” going in. I actually thought we were going to be the couple that never fights (ha). If things weren’t so painful I would laugh, I was that girl who essentially went on fun dates with and remained exclusive to one guy for eight years and thought she’d put her relationship to the test. When you start spending all your time, start making all decisions as a partner you are forced to form a new identity for yourself. It’s not comfortable. And when things go badly you both have a stake in the blame. And the very worst thing I did was try and point out what he did to make myself feel superior, knowing full well I was in deep too. A lot of tears have been shed over our own ineptitude, but at the end of the day we love each other a hell of a lot. That alone is “worth it” and I think it will always hold up no matter how things go.
    Honestly, I have half a mind to walk down the aisle to “Follow you Down” by the Gin Blossoms, that song rings truer to us than many more tasteful options.

  • MegsMom

    MegsDad said, “sometimes life just sucks.” Yes, sometimes it just does just. But here’s a funny thing: no fairy tales tell us that when we are born someone says, “Now you will live happily ever after.” No one is that foolish. As parents, we might *wish* that our children could live happily ever after, but we know that this is impossible. So where did someone, once upon a time, come up with the idea that when we get married we will live happily ever after? LIFE isn’t happily ever after. It just isn’t.

    This December, MegsDad and I will celebrate our 39th anniversary. Once we had celebrated our 20th, I would sometimes be asked with amazement, “How did you guys do it? How have you managed to stay married that long?” I often compare a good marriage to job that you really, really love.

    I have spent my career years as a teacher. I love it. I am passionate about it. I always have felt and thought that it was something that I was called to do. Over the years, I have had bad days, bad weeks, bad months. I have had bad YEARS. Years where by November 1, I couldn’t wait for the year to end. Long stretches in which I wanted to tear my hair out and scream by the end of almost every day. For most of my career, I taught in neighborhoods in which the kids had almost every card in the deck stacked against them, and I sometimes felt that what I did for them was a hopelessly inconsequential drop in the bucket.

    But did I want to quit teaching? I would sometimes fantasize about it. A couple of times I went so far as to investigate what additional training I would need in order to switch careers. But when it came down to a serious decision, I always chose to stay. Teaching gave me so much joy, so much satisfaction, and the kids returned so much love. And every time a kid’s face literally lit up with the realization that they understood something new, I felt that I had had a small part in the making of that miracle.

    If your marriage is that: up times, down times, struggling times, and every once in a while miracle times, however small, then it is well worth helping each other find “the courage to love in the faee of uncertainty.”

    Beautiful post. Thank you.

    • Another Annie

      Thank you, MegsMom. This was an extremely helpful analogy. Congratulations on putting in all the tough work necessary to make it to 39 years. :)

      • MegsMom

        Thanks! :)

  • I don’t have anything to say other than I just really liked reading this and I really appreciate that it was written and published.

  • Amy

    Thank you for sharing, you are not alone.

  • sfw

    Thank you for this post and for all these comments about being inside the rough spots. Often it seems the stories about the rough spots are told when they’ve been navigated successfully and the relationship has come out stronger on the other side. I really need to know right now that I am not the only one out there making the daily decision to stay and keep working on my relationship while it goes through something that may be a rough spot or may be a failure. Thank you thank you.

  • Danielle

    This post is so appreciated. Though we don’t discuss it much publicly, dealing with the hard parts of marriage is just as important as enjoying all the high points. I think about this as I wear two rings, both related to my husband. The first is my wedding ring and the second is a gift given from my husband a year after we got married. And the reason for the second one? It was an “I’m sorry/thank you” ring. We had a particularly hard year, during which my husband didn’t quite rise to the challenge of taking on the responsibilities that come with marriage and spent most of the year annoyed with me. Only after we had pushed past it were we able to talk about it, and figure out what it meant. For my husband, that meant saying thank you and apologising, and he gave me a beautiful ring I had been eyeing up to say that. It didn’t erase the bad year or make me feel like our marriage was now easy, but it is a daily reminder of the two sides of the marriage coin.

  • Thank you thank you thank you. My husband and I got married at what some people might consider “young”. Everyone thought we should wait, said that “we’re both going to change so much”. Of course, we are going to change. Sometimes things are going to suck. But why should we wait to marry just because things “might” turn out badly some day.

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  • I am going through the part where things crash and burn, I’m not yet ripping up pictures of him but I’ve hidden the wedding album where I can’t see it. Thank you for reminding me that even though this sucks, it was not a mistake or a waste. Our love was real, so real that we both took a chance on it.
    Thank you for reminding me to appreciate that.

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