I am thankful for second chances – especially as they relate to my marriage.

We were both close to walking away at our 8th wedding anniversary, but with what we know about God, we knew that wasn’t the right path. So we took the thing we both valued in our relationship, our friendship, and built on that to rebuild our marriage. My husband and I learned that it is imperative that we stay friends regardless of what we feel and what we face. We know that the definition of a FRIEND is a person that stands by you through whatever issues you may have, but more than that is willing to point out YOUR issues to YOU, with love.

The breakdowns started well before we reached our 8th anniversary. My husband was diagnosed as being diabetic well before we were married, and I was aware of that. I figured he was taking care of the diabetes in a way that would keep it from escalating and that we would keep up the workouts and eat right habits that we had both embraced prior to the wedding. Then, his mom died, and I got pregnant. Then, both the children that I brought into the marriage became teenagers. We started one business, then another. Life was busy, complex and ROUTINE. During all this BUSY we were still friends – texting each other throughout the day, and sharing our deepest thoughts with each other, or so I thought.

However, there were aspects of my husbands’ health that I wasn’t aware of – as he put it, he glossed over them. Those issues came to a head on the day that we had scheduled a weekend getaway to mentor to a newlywed couple who were having struggles of their own. I had a follow-up doctor appointment and he wasn’t looking well. He had this cough/wheezing that he hadn’t been able to shake and I suggested he visit his doctor while I visited mine, and then we would hit the road.

His doctor sent him straight to the ER. He was diagnosed in the ER as being in heart failure – congestive heart failure. The doctors there informed me that along with that, there was high blood pressure, some kidney failure and high cholesterol. And, most of these issues he was aware of – I was not.

The myriad of health issues shook me – I felt that he wasn’t being honest with me and that he was being selfish by allowing himself to get to this place where he could have died on his family. So, I took charge. I changed how the entire family ate, instituted workout plans and scheduled it all. I made doctors appointments and made my schedule work so I could be there for each one. He resented it all and like any resentful child, he rebelled.

Because he is extremely docile, he didn’t outwardly say, “I don’t like this,” or “I am not doing that.” He, instead, just quietly pulled away from all my efforts. His pulling away led to resentment building in me and me in turn pulling away from him. Both of us pulling away and leaving things unsaid was killing our relationship.

As we were in the midst of the many difficulties we were facing, we learned that first and foremost a friend is HONEST with you. They tell you the thing you may not want to hear and they walk the balance between not sugar coating and making it malicious. As we dealt with the things that were the least satisfactory about our relationship, our goal had to be to make our relationship better, not to hurt each other. We also learned that the best friends you have are likely very different than you. That was one of the things we struggled with. With all the things we have in common, we have very different personalities, and these personality traits cause us to handle stress and adversity in very different ways. There are things you can learn in those differences – and they don’t come from trying to change your spouse into a duplication of yourself.

The last thing and the most important thing we learned is that it NEVER hurts to laugh. We don’t laugh at each other – but lots of situations lend themselves to laughter. For example – I was very angry with him during a heated exchange we were having during our 8th year. I was very animated and becoming more upset, all the while with a spoon in my hand. He said something I didn’t agree with and I threw the spoon at him. He then said we needed to take a break – not because things were that heated, but because the best thing I could think to do to get my point across was to toss that spoon at his head so I obviously wasn’t thinking clearly! And then we both laughed.

I am thankful that he is the first person I want to call with good news or bad, and I the same for him.