This is a hard post to write. I’ve literally avoided it for years. However, I’ve answered the question many times for the people who have been brave enough to ask the question.

“How has your marriage survived this?”

1. We didn’t blame each other. We both chose the daycare provider. We both picked her up and dropped her off. We made those choices together.

2. Alexis became our number one priority. EVERYTHING else shifted into the background. We both decided that whatever choices we made, her recovery would be the first consideration. For us that meant quitting our jobs, draining savings to the last dime, taking everything out of the retirement fund.

3. We understood our relationship was going to change. There were going to be few date nights. Sleeping more than a few hours a day was like winning a million dollar lottery without ever buying a ticket (for years). Our family was in survival mode…and romance was the last thing on the list.

4. We were nice to each other. Regardless of how each of us screwed up each day, no one ever pointed fingers at the other one. Dishes weren’t done…someone would do it eventually. We recognized that we were both doing the best we could, and we treated each other respectfully for that reason.

5. This was not a job for one. We needed one another to make every single thing work 24 hours a day.

6. We had patience…with Alexis, with each other, with our money, with our business. Was it stressful, yes. But we learned we just had to get through each day and never expect anything to happen fast.

7. We were selfless. Rarely did either one of us do anything for ourselves. If we did, someone was usually upset. No selfish moves.

8. We created efficient ways to communicate. We shared a google calendar, and everything went on it. We  texted and emailed.

9. We supported each other’s ideas. Even if ideas were crazy, we listened to each other and supported that decision. If it was a bad decision, we moved on. No dwelling.

10. We just kept trying. We knew that no matter how hard times were, eventually we would come out on the other side and we would be glad we were there together.

So, I think these are the top 10. I know that there are more reasons. I know that many marriages don’t get to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to challenges like ours. When you boil it down we were both able to maintain trust, kindness, and respect.

We aren’t in “survival” mode anymore, but we maintain all of those principals every day.

It continues to make us stronger, and there is never a day when I don’t go to bed thankful that we got through another one together.

Read more about the terrible day that Alexis was shaken, the results of the trial and the incredible determination and bravery from her parents

Tiffany Verzal

Tiffany Verzal was raised in rural Nebraska, and now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Brandon and daughter Alexis (9) and Abby (2). In 2008, Alexis (then 14-months-old) was the victim of shaken baby syndrome at the hands of her daycare provider in Texas. Alexis suffered severe brain damage and has spent over 2000 hours in rehabilitation since her injury. Tiffany continues to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse. Brandon and Tiffany serve as members on Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital’s Board of Trustees. Brandon is currently the Chairman of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board.