Shop the fall collection ➔

To the happy couple in my engagement photo:

Would you still be smiling if you knew then what you know now? That this picture of you radiating happiness will someday make you sad and sometimes angry? That life isn’t going to go exactly as you planned? That there will be days, if not for this picture on your dresser, you won’t remember being this happy together? And days you’ll want to scream at the two of you for being so foolish to think you always would be? That these fresh, hopeful faces are going to age 10 years in five?

Would you still be cuddled so assuredly if you knew in the not-so-distant future you’ll only feel that spark in fleeting moments and on rare vacations? Most of the time you’ll both be too weighed down by life and littles to even remember what the heck you were so excited for in this picture.

Do you realize the intimacy that came so easily will eventually take work? That at times it won’t even feel worth it, and you two will almost never be on the same page in its regard? I can see it on your enamored faces—you wouldn’t believe it becomes a periodic source of contention.

Would you still look so hopeful and certain if you knew your path to starting a family will be much harder than you expected? You’ll have an easier time getting pregnant than staying pregnant. Is it still worth it to you if this brings you the greatest loss of your life and also the sweetest, most untimely surprise? Should I warn you now that you each react differently to these life-changing events?

I look at your picture daily. Some days I consider packing you away. It’s painful to see your palpable excitement knowing your second greatest loss is the innocence on your faces.

No one told you marriage would be easy, but would either of you have done anything differently if you knew it was going to be this hard?

Would you still choose each other if you knew the differences in opinion that would arise? You look so confident right now, almost smug, because you agree so wholeheartedly on the big things like money and division of labor. You’re good about compromising on the little things, too, but don’t even realize how resentment will inevitably creep in on both of you and threaten to tear you apart. The loud, exhaustion-fueled fights that will go unresolved into the night. Long stretches of time feeling unappreciated, unacknowledged, and unseen.

These are the days I want to shatter the glass to pieces, your happiness and optimism too much to bear. I feel like I’ve failed you both. Your expectant eyes imploring me to make it better while your genuine smiles try to convince me it’s going to be alright.

And it is. It always is. We always find a way to make it back to each other. But bear in mind it will take more work than you can imagine in your younger minds and more time, space, and compromise than you may be willing to give. Each storm you weather changes you just a little. But weathering them together strengthens you just the same.

Day after day, I leave you atop my dresser to greet me, knowing deep down that both of you are much wiser than I’m giving you credit for. I know neither of you expected this journey to be easy. And I firmly believe both of you had faith in yourselves that you chose precisely the right partner to stand beside you when things got hard.

I realize we knew then exactly what we know now. We’re hanging in for the better. The kind that can only emerge from worse.

You may also like: 

Marriage Will Never Make You Happy

Marriage Isn’t Making Vows, It’s Keeping Them

Dear Husband, You’re Worth It


Christine Derengowski

A SAHM, Christine and her husband hope to instill their love of the outdoors in their two young sons by keeping busy outside. They can often be found walking their dogs, cheering on the Detroit Tigers, or enjoying play dates anywhere kids can expend large amounts of energy with minimal destruction of property. Christine is a contributor for the Mid-Michigan Mom’s Blog and has also been published on Motherly,  Sammiches & Psych Meds, and Scary Mommy.

The Best Marriage Advice We Ever Got: Touch Feet Every Night

In: Faith, Marriage
Couple touching feet in bed

Twenty-six years ago this summer, I got a tiny piece of advice on my wedding day that has kept me from making a huge mistake time and time again. A wise woman told me, “When you climb in bed each night with your husband, make sure that your feet touch under the covers. It’s hard to be mad at someone and touch feet.”  I had no idea, all those years ago, how impactful this piece of advice would be and how many times in our marriage this would be the small act that kept us united. This simple act of...

Keep Reading

Marriage Comes Down To the Little Things

In: Marriage
Empty cup next to coffee maker, color photo

Yesterday when my husband arrived home from work, I was met with a “you didn’t put my coffee cup out this morning.”  My back was to him. I was standing at the sink hand washing our daughter’s sippy cup. As I turned around, he must have read the emotion on my face because I didn’t have to say a word before he chimed in with a “no, no, I don’t expect you to! It was just a good reminder of all of the little things you do that I guess I just get used to and maybe don’t notice and...

Keep Reading

You’re Still the One I Want

In: Marriage
Hugging couple

I remember when we met like it was yesterday. You in your Wranglers and cowboy hat, I just had to ask you to dance. We’ve been together ever since. I remember how you would call me every night, we talked for hours. We had our own special way of saying goodnight before we hung up, “Take care of you for me.” The truth is the moment I  hung up, I couldn’t wait to talk to you again. We lived so far apart, that the only time we spent together was on the weekends. I loved those occasional mornings when you...

Keep Reading

Becoming a Stepmom Made Me a Mother

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Mother, father, and child kissing mom's cheek

From the time I was a little girl, it was always a given that I was going to be a mom. My younger sister and I picked names out (Denim and Lace) for our fictional children we were one day going to have, improbably, at the same time. As I grew older, college and responsibilities and a career kept my fictional children from becoming real, but I always knew that, eventually, I was going to be a mom. But then, life sometimes throws you hard and fast curveballs, and with one failed marriage looming on the horizon, I began to...

Keep Reading

The Greatest Gift Is Time

In: Living, Marriage, Motherhood
Couple with child at home

Recently, I attended both a wedding and a baby shower in the same weekend. As I was wrapping both gifts, I couldn’t help but think about what those two women really needed. The perfect gift for those first steps into marriage or motherhood is not anything that could be wrapped in pretty paper.  Sure newlyweds need pans to cook in, and babies need blankets to snuggle in. Yes, soft towels are nice and baby jammies might be the cutest clothing anyone could ever purchase. What both new brides and new mommas really need, though, could never be found on a...

Keep Reading

Loving and Appreciating the Man You Married Changes Everything

In: Marriage
Man and woman hold hands

They say, marry the man who . . .  Holds open the door for you. Gives you flowers on your birthday. Carries the heavy groceries for ysou. Makes coffee for you in the morning. Tells you how much he loves you every day. Messages you in the middle of the afternoon to tell you he’s thinking about you. Plans date nights for the two of you. But what if the man you married doesn’t do all or any of these things? Or what if he does them, but he doesn’t do them consistently? He’s so unlike those other husbands who...

Keep Reading

Loving Me after Trauma Means Being Careful with My Heart

In: Marriage
Man and woman silhouette

To the husband loving me despite my past trauma, Thank you. For not sneaking up and playfully putting your arms around me in the kitchen like you’d like to, because you know I don’t like being touched from behind. RELATED: The Lies of Abuse Will Not Silence My Voice For somehow always knowing when I need to hear “You look great,” because the low self-esteem is acting up again. For understanding that sex will always be different for me. And some days, difficult. For letting me sit in the chair facing the window in the restaurant. For living daily with...

Keep Reading

The Woman He Married Is Long Gone

In: Grief, Kids, Marriage
Young couple smiling

My husband has been married to at least five different women—and they’re all versions of me. His first wife was the 21-year-old version of me, who was a fit and focused college athlete. She was a driven, perfectionist dream-chaser. She was ready to push and sacrifice to chase the dream. No challenge was too hard—but then again, the hardest thing in her life was her organic chemistry final. She had the eternal optimism that comes with naivety and innocence. She loved him with eagerness and couldn’t wait to build a life with him. He often still daydreams of this first...

Keep Reading

Modeling a Healthy Marriage for Our Kids Matters

In: Kids, Marriage
Boy watching parents kiss

Sometimes he’ll whisper playfully to me, when I’m doting on the kids and not paying him much attention, “Hey, none of this, ya know,” gesturing to our boys, “would have been even remotely possible without me, the big D,” with a wink and a smirk. And I’ll smile involuntarily, roll my eyes, and concede, usually silently, that yeah, he’s got a point. A great point, actually. Without my (truly incredible) husband, without the two of us, there would be no family as we know it, no world as we know it.  It’s not about loving my husband more, nor is...

Keep Reading

Dear Husband, I Love This Stage of Life With You

In: Marriage
Happy family of four

Dear husband, It’s no secret our love story has been long and bumpy. We have grown apart and back again many times throughout the years. But now we are entering a different time in our lives. Our children are no longer babies—they wouldn’t even be considered toddlers. I am loving this time with you. A time where we have more freedom to be silly, to play, to travel, and just sit with each other. The days before this were long. They were rocky. They were so stressful. RELATED: Dear Husband, There is a Table Waiting For Us There was never...

Keep Reading