Strong Marriage

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On your wedding day you recite vows that I don’t think many people truly understand, or live by. You say “in good times and in bad”, but do you really mean it? You say “in sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part,” but when sickness creeps in do you cling tight to those words? Unfortunately, the sad truth is that many of us do not. We are a selfish people that first and foremost look out for number one. In my 9 years of marriage we have owned seven vehicles, totaled two. We have lived in four homes, experienced foreclosure, and had to move in with the in-laws to escape bankruptcy. We have had several seemingly great “couple friends” that we don’t even talk to anymore. We have watched our child go through cancer, and survive. We thought when we said “I do” that our marriage would be perfect. However, it didn’t take us long to realize that that wasn’t true at all.

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Like any newlyweds we started out in the honeymoon phase, but that didn’t last long. After one month of marriage we were preparing for baby number one, our son, Parker. The week before I was expected to deliver my husband quit his job due to poor circumstances, which left us even more financially unstable. I had a normal pregnancy, but had to have an emergency c-section to deliver him safely.

When Parker was six months old we found out we were pregnant with baby number two, our daughter, Kylee. I also had a normal pregnancy with Kylee but had a planned c-section due to complications during my first delivery. Once I had come out of recovery they rolled me into the NICU to see her for the first time. Kylee was lying in an incubator on her back, but her legs looked like she was doing a split. There were tubes and wires surrounding her little body. It was then that I knew my little girl wouldn’t be “normal”. While still in the NICU she was clinically diagnosed with Arthrogryposis, which we’d later find out was a misdiagnosis.

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During the next year Kylee practically lived in the hospital, which left my husband and I separated, and often. About four days before she’d turn one she stopped breathing due to mucus blockage in her airway from a simple cold. So Kylee’s first birthday was spent at her second home, the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, and her present… a shiny new tracheotomy tube. Over the next couple years we continued to live with a sick child, and when she was two-years-old she was diagnosed with bilateral Wilm’s tumor. To make matters worse my husband began to (and still does) deal with chronic pain from a source we are still unable to figure out. When Kylee entered remission I decided I’d go back to school, so there’s that too. Last year our son was diagnosed with ADHD, and although I was reluctant to put him on medication I feel like it has helped him. This school year he has struggled so much with teachers, peers, and friends. We have had to comfort our son that would come home from school crying because he can’t control himself or his emotions.

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So, how did we make it? How did we get to the other side? How are we still together, as one body, happily married? The odds against our marriage have been great, but through all the adversity and struggles we’ve endured, we made it.

We have a marriage that outdoes one another in acts of honor, and a marriage that submits to each other in love and affection. Love is a verb; it’s something you do, not just something that you feel. Never stop learning your spouse. Keep chasing them and definitely continue to date them.

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Yes, life has been hard at times, even hell, but thank God we don’t look like what we have been through. God has been our rock, our source of strength, and hope throughout our marriage. Without Him at the center I don’t know what would have stopped us from leaving when things got too hard.

- Laura Elizabeth O’Shields

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