I’m so glad you’ve made your way over to my brand new column here on the Good Men Project. I want to open my column by introducing myself and sharing what my partner and I have done to tackle stress in the face of health difficulties, financial challenges, sleepless nights, and just the standard packing that comes with being a human.
My name is Rachel. My husband Nathan and I have been married since December 2010. We have two daughters, Elizabeth and Ada. Elizabeth is currently four years old. She is delightfully engaging, asks so many questions, and is obsessed with poop. Ada is nearly 2 years old, recently decided that she prefers walking, and has so much to say! We can even understand a lot of it. We are also expecting our third child, due September 5. Outside of my family life, I am an elected official in my community, pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration, and I work full-time as a higher education professional.
Stress plays a part in every part of our lives, and our long-term relationships are no exception. As we all experience stress and generally manage to come out the other side of the situation in decent shape, I’m willing to guess you’re wondering why I think I’m uniquely qualified to give some pointers. With that in mind, I am going to share an experience that Nathan and I went through together that was, for us, uniquely challenging but has also made us better in the long run.
On December 17, 2010, Nathan became violently ill shortly following our wedding ceremony. Over the course of the weekend, we joked that we’d obviously gotten the sickness part out of the way early in our marriage, and it would be smooth sailing from here on out. Yet, every year on December 17th one of us was ill. This came to what we thought was a head in 2015 when Nathan had emergency gallbladder removal surgery. Some highlights of the experience include the surgeon acting like he was way too busy to answer my questions and a version of myself that only appears during pregnancy—I was 16 weeks along at the time—swearing at the pharmacist at the only 24-hour pharmacy in our area. Following this experience, Nathan began to experience some pretty poor treatment at his job and poor health plagued members of our extended family (some of whom we relied on for childcare). My own job dissatisfaction took a sharp decline. Three weeks before Ada was due to be born, Nathan lost his job which was plenty devastating on its own and also put the kibosh on the plan we had for me to take a 6-month maternity leave.
The week after that, Elizabeth and I (and Ada too, as she was always with me) were in a car accident that totaled our car (although was physically fine). The next week Adorable was born and Nathan found a new job. Hooray! Our run of bad luck was over. That is, until my second day back from maternity leave when Nathan fell and broke his ankle and a brutal cold and flu season (including Nathan being hospitalized for several days for a mystery illness) left my boss calling me in to her office with a tally of every time I’d asked for any time off between August and January.
Long story short, job dissatisfaction and health problems have been plaguing us for most of our relationship and yet, I would describe my marriage as delightful. Nathan is my best friend and although our daughters are in a very high needs stage of their lives (statistically one of the most challenging times in any long-term relationship), I love him and enjoy being with him more than I did nearly ten years ago when I was kicking his shins to indicate my interest. With all of this, I hope, at least, that I’ve gained some little nuggets of knowledge that you’ll find helpful.
This column will continue to evolve over time, but in the short term, you can expect me to share some funny stories about my marriage and children as I talk about working through your stress through communication, self-care, togetherness, and service. It is my hope this space will be engaging and encourage dialogue between us.
This post was originally published on TheRelationshipBlogger.com and has been republished with the author’s permission.
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