Please don’t tell anyone, but I am a sentimental fool. I cry during chick flicks, I love a good love story. I love falling in love and sometimes I get teary thinking about how lucky I am to be married to the man of my dreams.
I met my husband before I knew what kind of man I was dreaming about. I was 29, raising my little girl by myself. I had a bunch of debt, some emotional trauma from a bad first marriage and awful divorce. I had what no one wants…baggage.
I was friends with his sister. She loved me. She loved him. And she thought we might love each other. Maybe it wasn’t love right away, but it was really fun. He taught me to be more adventurous on the ski slopes and in the kitchen. I taught him that we could still have fun, even though we had to be home early on school nights.
We had so many differences, but loved many of the same things. We loved to hike, ski, and travel together. We were also both extremely concerned about my daughter’s happiness, and what our relationship would be like for her. That focus made us slow down and really figure out what we wanted. If this wasn’t going to be a forever thing, it wasn’t going to be a thing at all. So, we got to know each other, and dated for 6 years.
We had our ups and downs, and ons and offs but we knew a few simple things; I loved him. He loved me. And we both loved her.
In the Fall of 2004, Mark proposed to me after a romantic dinner in the mountains. The next day, he proposed to my daughter. He didn’t tell me he was going to do this, but he had his grandmother’s wedding ring engraved to say, “Jag älskar dig”, I love you, in Swedish. He gave it to her in a tiny box, with a tiny note that had a big question, “Will you be my daughter?”
I said yes. She said yes. And on May 21, 2005 we were married. We celebrated with close friends and family. We told ourselves that marriage wouldn’t change anything for us. We were wrong.
We bought a house and started our lives as man and wife and child. We were happy. I was in love with him, in love with love, and ready to see where this journey would take us.
One year later, the dragon appeared in our fairy tale. I didn’t feel well. I was tired and dizzy, and the side of my face was tingly. After a month of extensive tests I got the phone call. “You have MS.” All I could think of was, “how I am I going to tell my family that I have Multiple Sclerosis?” I had to tell him first. I had to tell him that I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had to tell him that I didn’t know if I would be able to hike with him, ski with him or even walk with him someday.
About a week after my diagnosis, I did the unthinkable. I asked him to leave me. I didn’t ask him to do that so he would feel sorry for me. I didn’t ask him to leave me because I wanted to do this alone. I asked him to do it, because I wanted him to have a full life, and I wasn’t sure if I could offer that to him anymore. I thought he deserved more than taking care of a wife with MS.
I learned so much from him and our marriage:
- Love is not enough. Take it from an expert, it is easy to be in love, but it is not enough to sustain a long term relationship. You need all the other stuff too. You need patience, gentleness, romance, passion, compromise, real friendship and selflessness.
- Being right is not important. Seriously, in most cases who cares who was right? By the time you are really mad at each other, you likely can’t remember the reason you got angry in the first place. It’s ok to just kiss and make up. Not everything needs to be resolved.
- Actions speak louder than words, but say the words anyway. When my husband says, “you look beautiful” or sends me a text that says, “can’t wait to see you tonight.” It makes me feel special and more loving. Say I love you every day. Even when you’re not feeling it.
- Marriage at it’s best, is simple. Wow, I can’t believe I said that. I thought marriage was supposed to be really complicated, and near impossible to hold onto. I was wrong. Marriage is complicated and near impossible to hold onto when you stop thinking about each other, when you stop thinking about marriage. Keep it simple and if you notice things are crazy complicated, pare down. Like you would clean out a closet, clean out the things that are getting in the way of being married.
- Less stuff means more genuine connection. By getting rid of our stuff, paying off our debt, and spending less, we can finally zero in on what each other needs the most. Even though we have known each other for 11 years, we are getting to know each other better, because we have the time and space to pay attention.
I am forever grateful that he did not take me up on my offer to leave. He has seen me at my worst, and inspired me to be my best. By staying focused on the most important things in our lives, we fight MS together, and we are working towards an amazing future and enjoying ourselves along the way.
I think we told ourselves that marriage wouldn’t change a thing because things were so good. Things were so good, and we didn’t want to disturb what we had. Instead, we made what we had better. Each day I think, “I can’t believe I love him more than I did before.” Every day, I think about how lucky I am to be living my very own love story.
As one of the main characters of a simple love story, I know that my intentions and my actions support my marriage. My husband is amazing, but he can’t do it alone. We may encounter bumps in the road and a few surprises, but together, we will celebrate and protect our marriage, and our family.