It was 2013 the last time I wrote about our marriage. And while that doesn't seem like too too long ago, the honesty hits me in the fact that it was 4 years ago.
I am a photographer, who loves to photograph people as they are right now. The beautiful, the pretty, the ugly, the sad all summed up in one picture, that soon one day will become a marker in the journey. But that marker in the journey serves as a reminder to something - who we were and who we are becoming.
Four years ago we were rounding the corner on our 5th anniversary. We were pregnant with our first child, we lived in what we thought was going to be our dream home - a 1700 square foot apartment in the heart of Hartford, Connecticut. I had just completed my first year in business being a professional photographer and of course, we were ready to welcome all that was ahead.
I had just launched a new business focused on photographing stories of marriage. A year of photographing couples, whether it be engagements, weddings, or family portraits - had shown me that the spark that is there in the beginning doesn’t really ever fade. It’s there….somewhere. But the proof of my theory existed only in my work.
Fast forward to our 6th anniversary a year later; we let our celebration go by the wayside because we were so exhausted. A little bit because we had just become new parents, a little bit because we were moving into a season of survival. The transition of my husband's job away from the church that we had moved to Connecticut for, was painful. We had a new baby, whose grandparents were desperate to see her - and although we lived 1,000 miles away I tried to take trips back and forth. The next month brought a diagnosis of cancer to a dear friend. And the following spring, the levy broke and the flood of everything was too much to bear.
A family crisis back at home in Michigan distracted me. A new business venture I had started with a friend, failed. And on top of it all - our friend who had cancer, died. A few months later we moved back to the Midwest - a small, beach town on Lake Michigan just an hour north of Chicago and a few more hours from family was an answer to our prayers. We began to heal.
Heal though, in our own corners. My husband dove into a new job, while I began to relocate my business to a new market.
I began to feel myself come out of whatever cocoon I had built around myself in Connecticut. I felt like I was becoming a new person, a new version of the person I was years and years ago.
Our 7th anniversary, Andrew surprised me with a trip to Chicago. I remember walking the streets with him, feeling like two strangers. It felt weird to be alone with him since for the past two years we had little alone time - we had been in our ‘survival’ mode and surviving didn’t always necessarily mean ‘together’. We had gotten lost someplace in between who we were and who we were becoming...and I didn’t want to lose what we had.
The line between ‘is something really wrong?’ and ‘everything is fine!’ is one I danced around when I would analyze our relationship. At times I felt like we had grown apart, but were closer than ever. It seemed like we shared a brain, would finish each other's sentences and thoughts, we’d turn up to church in matching outfits! But I felt far from him in a physical sense. We had a two-year-old, and I couldn’t handle one more person touching me - needing me physically.
We always said we’d never let a baby change who we were, but in that moment - the ugly truth was that we had lost touch with who we were.
Our relationship was looking more like two friends, than two lovers. What we had to do first, was be okay with the place we were at, be honest about it to each other. The second was if we wanted to change, we had to embrace intention. And say YES. To holding his hand. To snuggling in the night. To meeting his needs and allowing him to know mine again. To discover the new ‘us’.
There isn’t an ending to tie our story up into a bow, but we are still choosing each other, every day.
To be more than friends, but to be husband and wife..and to leave room for who we are meant to be in this season. And so I want to share our story here and now, to claim the good that has come out of the bad.
We bring to light that for every yin there is a yang, for every down, there is an up. And for every lie that is spoken; in the darkness of the night, in the depths of our minds...we claim light. Light that shines to chase away the darkness. That the place where ‘you and I became us’ still exists, but there is a new place. A place to claim what is true...that we will speak over our life, that you and I are still us...it’s just an us that is born anew.