I am a fan of the band Imagine Dragons. Their songs are catchy but powerful. Their recent hit, “Whatever It Takes”, hooked me from first listen and it seems very appropriate for where Tim and I are in life right now. We have had a helluva first year of marriage…two rounds of unemployment, severe financial distress, crazy family dynamics, battles with depression and anxiety, the death of two pets, a pregnancy, a miscarriage, and serious health issues are just some of the things we have faced together over the last 12 months. It’s been hard. Really hard. And that doesn’t even include the average struggles a couple faces in being married for the first time.
We are now coming out of the tunnel and into the light when it comes to our circumstances, but in many ways it seems like we are just now able to see all of the rubble and damage from the last year. After a tornado or hurricane, families emerge from their safe places to take stock of what has been damaged or lost. That is where I feel like we are right now. Most of the damage was financial. There were weeks over the course of the last year that we had to choose between buying groceries or paying for gas so that we could get to our jobs. We ate a lot of noodles from Aldi and peanut butter. We went into total social lockdown for about 12 weeks so that we didn’t spend a dime on anything other than minimal gas and food. We had to cancel a lot of plans and tell a lot of people we just couldn’t do things for the moment. For me, it became very isolating because I am somewhat of an extrovert by nature and need to be able to get out of the house.
There were several weeks when I had to figure out how to feed us both on about $40 and that is, sadly, really difficult in a large American city. Gas prices kept rising and most days started and ended in total panic for us. There were many days when we just looked at each other and said, “We are going to do whatever it takes to make this work.” Short of doing anything illegal, we both exhausted all of our options to pull together over the last year or so. I picked up extra work here and there doing everything from walking dogs to contract work. Tim did freelance gigs, worked for a friend, and even did a three month stint in one of the worst retail environments I have ever seen just to keep us afloat. And that was just financially. Relationally, we really had to dig deep into the wells of our own hearts to find patience, compassion, and kindness for our selves and each other when we just didn’t have any relational capital left.
But through it all, we knew we were not going to give up. We knew we were in this together and that neither of us was jumping ship, no matter how hard it got. We knew the other person would do whatever it would take to hold us together. And believe me, some days got really ugly. I have a long menu of health issues that also lead to really bad spikes in anxiety and Tim had to navigate that in the midst of working at a really demanding job. And there is just the fact that Tim and I do a lot of things very differently. We have two totally different personalities, we come from two completely different backgrounds, and we were raised about as differently as two people can be raised. Sometimes our differences are a huge asset because we complement each other so well, but sometimes our differences are difficult to navigate because just don’t approach circumstances or conflicts in the same way.
I believe what works for us is that we took vows to do whatever it takes to navigate life together. We agreed, even when we were dating, to be completely honest with each other in all situations, regardless of how easy or painful the truth may be. And y’all, this is a really hard policy to maintain! There are days when it just feels like it would be easier to not talk about things, to ignore feelings or emotions, or to cover something up with a little white lie. Sure, it may be easier to ignore things in the moment, but those issues will always come up somewhere and bite us in the butt. Eventually, it all catches up, so we have found it is better to just face our issues on the front end as best as we can.
Through everything we have experienced over the last year, I have come to see just how far my husband is willing to go to do whatever it takes. He has weathered extreme physical, emotional, psychological, and relational stress. We both have. And I am so thankful for him and our mutual willingness to face really hard things together.
I guess, at the end of the day, there isn’t really a formula for how to do all of this. I just know we have both agreed to do whatever it takes, and love each other in the process.