Marriage in Movement

Dear God, It is 10:30 at night and I can literally not keep my eyes open two hours ago. Why do you insist on waking me so late in the evening to write? What gives? This better be good. Amen

That’s right, I got up out of my bed, put on a pot of tea, and started writing when I should be sleeping. I do not have the time nor the energy for this. I’ve got kids to raise! That requires sleep, my friends! And my kids sleep good. I am so lucky to have kids that sleep good. My GOD does not let me sleep. It’s like I’m kept awake until I get my fancy pants out of bed and on the computer. I’ve been promised some sort of ground breaking material so here I go.

My therapist reminded me after the embryo transfer failed, that when couples go through a loss of a child, they tend to turn away from each other. They sulk in their loneliness and hoard the grief all to themselves. We don’t automatically reach toward a friend or a loved one when we are grieving. We dive into ourselves and wait for it to pass. Except it doesn’t pass; it festers.

My husband had been distant. He was “doing” all the things and keeping very busy. I tried leaning into him, but he would push away as lovingly as he could. “I’m fine.”  He is the rock of the family after all. He has always been the stable one in all ways. Yeah, I’m not buying it.

I finally told him that if he didn’t tell me what was wrong I would assume he was mad at me. He rolled his eyes and said, that is definitely not what is going on. So I asked him to explain. It came down to his lack of control. He couldn’t control the outcome of our fertility treatments. He had experienced disrespect at work and felt as though he had lost some amount of control of that part of his job. We had just put our dog down that same week so he had felt helpless in that matter even though we chose to let him go peacefully. He is training for a big triathlon and is not feeling in control of his free time or training right now. He was not feeling like the rock. To him, it’s a black and white world for the most part. In control or out of control.

When I thought of it that way, I could understand his frustration. He wasn’t grieving in the same way I was. So I had to think of a way to be there for him that would help him most.

Now, I’m not what we would call a good housewife. I am not a perfectionist in any way. I hate doing dishes, laundry, or any cleaning, and can handle a good mess. So what I decided to work harder at was keeping the house clean. I pulled some of the “doings” away from him. He came home the next couple of days and just sat with the kids “being.” Although, one day he beat me to the punch and cooked dinner for us all. He is a pretty amazing guy like that.

 

Over the past 12 years of marriage I have gotten much better at helping him “do” and he has gotten much better at helping me “be.” I would say the first five years of our marriage our main arguments were over him pushing me to “do” all the time and me pushing him to “be” all the time.

  • Him: You need to clean the house right now!
  • Me: You need to be patient with me!

Then our arguments turned into arguments about our styles of arguing.

  • Me: You yell too much!
  • Him: Well, you don’t even respond to me!
  • Me: You aren’t showing me very much love!
  • Him: You aren’t showing me very much respect!
  • Me: *Silence*
  • Him: SEE!

(This is a paired down version of a 3-6 hour argument we had several times, generally in the middle of the night. Had we said these nice and clear things, it would have been better.)

Seriously people, this was our first five years. Marriage is hard.

Now here we are going through a hard situation and giving each other a break.  I mean we aren’t perfect; we did argue about something I cannot even remember before we left for a six hour road trip. We didn’t speak the whole time. I listened to a book on building my legend (because I am amazing) and he listened to podcasts about economics (because he is a nerd). Throughout our weekend with family we gradually relaxed. We lost the embryos and our dog in less than five days. It was a hard week to say the least.

We really have come a long way in our marriage. I’m not sure we would have handled that so well in the beginning of our marriage. It has taken a lot of work though. Our compassion for each other should come naturally, but it has come with hard work over a period of years.

I had a friend recently ask me how I got my husband into therapy with me all those years ago. I can’t really remember, so I asked him.

There are two things:

  • 1. I also recognized that there was an issue. and 2. Even though I didn’t think therapy would help (and even hated the stigma of therapy) it was just a matter of sucking it up and going anyway with an open mind. Ultimately it comes down to this: We are married and love each other. If one person feels that the marriage is slipping and believes that a specific intervention might help, it is the other person’s job (if they are fully invested) to give it a shot. – The husband

He went to every therapy session I asked him to go too. I cannot tell you how thankful I am he didn’t fight me on this. Therapists are not all created equal and we have had our share of crazies. He powered through all of the crazies with me. I’m not saying all therapists can save a marriage. Some folks go to therapists and decide to end their marriage.  Shit happens. I’m not saying our marriage is bulletproof. What I’m saying is we give every possible effort to strengthen our relationship where we can. Even then I know it may not be enough. Today we are strong, but who knows what we will look like in ten years. I’m hoping we continue the trend of strengthening our marriage.

We still argue, because we are humans. Humans disagree. That is normal. I am still snarky, because honestly, I don’t really know how to turn that off. He has learned to not react to my snarkiness most of the time. I get it, I can be hard to read with my sarcasm. Also, I can be hilarious. He may or may not agree all the time.

He is a really smart guy and I feel threatened sometimes. I don’t know why, but I do. I’ve learned to appreciate his knowledge…most of the time. Other times I get super annoyed, because I am human.

We have learned to give and take. Marriage is kind of an amazing shit show. What other human could you live with in the same space, continually, for the rest of your life. We leave our parents home at 18 – from people who have cared for us, loved us, and given us everything they could…and we run. Yet we find a mate and all of a sudden we are like, “Yeah, I could totally live with this person that I’ve known for a couple years for the REST OF MY LIFE!”

WHAT ARE WE THINKING??

You throw in personal growth over time; changing interests. Throw in some medical problems, family problems, financial problems, kids and gray hair. Everything changes. You are not the people you were when you met. You are not the people you were two years ago. Yet, here you are spending the rest of your life with this one person. Honestly, it’s a scary adventure. What’s going to happen next? Somehow we get comfortable with this. We understand how they move and adjust. They understand how we move and adjust. It becomes this synchronized mesh where we are kind of doing the same thing, but also attempting to be individuals as well.

Marriage is a balance that flows with time. It’s an imperfect dance.

So that is what God brought me. Relationship advice I guess. Even though I don’t feel qualified to be giving such advice.

Bottom line, don’t give up on a relationship that once had love, without a fight.

 

SheilaKChester

When Fire Consumes Your Soul

Sometimes God calls you to do amazing things. Sometimes you hear it loud and clear. THIS IS YOUR CALLING!! So you run into the fire with God as your shield standing behind you saying THIS IS THE WAY!

Today, the fire consumed me.

We have been pursuing embryo adoption since 2014. The summer of 2015 we tried two transfers, both ending with a momentary pregnancy. We spent the next year searching for more embryos. We went through two failed matches so we decided to start the long adoption process again. Three months into starting that adoption process we got a call that we were matched. It took 2 months to approve that embryo match and another 6 months to receive the embryos at our clinic. The same time we were working on our adoption home study. It was taking FOREVER. We were at 6 months into the home study and I was calling the agency daily to get them to move along. I started medications for the embryo transfer and one week later we got a call from our adoption agency that they had a child for us. Now it was all happening at once. All of the babies at one time. I could see the miracles happening before us. I was truly living inside a miracle.

Our sweet girl came home and our lives were perfect. We delayed the transfer by a year. God gave us this child and these embryos for a reason. Then for some icing on the cake HE encouraged me to try breastfeeding and I did. I successfully breastfed my daughter for six months. Just enough time to get started on the next round of fertility treatments.

And here I am today, waiting for the nurse to call me to tell me the embryos are perfect. As I’m driving to drop the kids off at daycare a song comes on the radio.

Let me preface this a bit by explaining that I just started listening to Christian music on the radio. I’m pushing myself deeper into my spirituality so my challenge to myself (and from my friend) was to start listening to Christian music.

So a song comes on the radio.

I’d never heard it before, but I’ve only been listening to Christian radio for about a month so no shocker. But I listened intently to her words. Thy Will Be Done. In my prayers every night I’ve been adding, May Gods Will be my will. But ultimately may Gods Will Be Done. My spiritual counselor said this to me many times last week as well. Thy Will be done.

So what’s the story?

My nurse called after I dropped the kids off to say that the first two embryos didn’t survive the thaw. I held it together, because I had two left.  She recommended I stay relaxed and take a valium… I’m not gonna argue. So I took my valium and downloaded the song and listened to it again. What is God trying to tell me? This doesn’t sound like an uplifting song.

My nurse called me at 11am… she was sobbing. The remaining embryos didn’t survive. My heart sank.

She said the embryologist and fertility doctor were devastated. They were honestly trying to figure out if they had any embryos designated for donation that they could give me today.

The first time I walked into this fertility clinic was 7 years ago. I’ve been working with them on and off for 7 years in-between adoptions. They are truly friends.

Now what?

The words God gave me in my prayers last night were this:

For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

Deuteronomy 16:15

The truth is, my Joy is complete. I am no longer chasing “more”. More will come if it is His Will. More in all ways. More love will come in children, in my marriage, in my soul.  God tells us to expect miracles, so maybe in some way this was a miracle to bring me more joy. I just can’t see that through the smoke right now. I do know its out there.

I pray this adds to my story. I’m wearing my wonder woman shirt today, because I’ve got this. I can cry today and mourn the loss of these children that will never be. Tonight I will hug my complete family tight knowing that they are my dreams come true. They are my people brought out of miraculous circumstances.  My husband, my son, and my daughter. Miracles from God.

Today I walked into the fire with God by my side. I feel Jesus in my heart, the Holy Spirit in my head and the true love of God engulfing me like a fire blanket.

Infertility has rocked me to my core. It has made me hateful, angry, depressed, anxious,… and then something changed… it has made me loving, compassionate, complete. Infertility pulled me away from God and then brought me back in grand fashion.

No matter your fire, you are never alone and there is a bigger story to be told.

Discover the stillness of the cyclone.

Sheila K Chester

 

Thy Will by Hillary Scott

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know you’re good But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop Remember that you’re God
And I am not
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will

This is Us

This is us.

The show that has everyone experiencing a straight up emotional back hand. Thank you television for making me feel my emotions. Something I’ve tried to avoid for my entire 35 years.

Not only does this show evoke emotion in me, but it evokes emotion in my husband. I have never seen him react in any manner after a show or movie other than… that was good. But there is something about this show that digs deep into his soul. It’s not just the adoption party that catches us, its the relationships. Life is a series of relationships and this show captures those relationships with vigor.

For one, watching Randall connect to both his biological father and his adoptive father has my husband on his knees. I get why Randalls mother didn’t want him to know his biological father. It’s fear. Fear that our children can’t love two people with similar titles at once. Yet as parents, we can love more than one child. Why wouldn’t we expect our children to do the same?

The last episode where Jack and Rebecca got into a huge fight before she kicked Jack out of the house…. We were both stunned. We had that fight. We had that fight several times. Before finally deciding to build our family through adoption, we were at each others throats. We were on the verge several times of just giving up on our marriage. I wanted to leave. I was tired. And it seemed there was no end in site. We were stagnant in life and blamed each other for our lack of movement. It’s because I wouldn’t do IVF. It’s because Justin didn’t want to adopt until we tried all medical options. It was because we were tired and blamed ourselves for this infertility. I’m sure we had other selfish issues on top of the infertility that played a role in our bickering.

It probably doesn’t help that the same day we watched this last episode, was the day of our monthly marriage counseling. I was expressing some insecurities I had and didn’t feel like I was being understood. I left that session feeling tired and confused.

That night, after the show, Justin turned the tv off stood up and looked at me. He stared for a moment and then said, “I think you are the most beautiful woman in the world. You are gorgeous. The way you look is beautiful. Your heart is beautiful. The way you are a mother is beautiful. You are a beautiful, gorgeous woman and wife. I’m sorry I don’t say that enough.”

Cue Tears. And silence.

I didn’t know what to say. I’d been so hard on myself the past several months (probably years) for not being enough. I’ve been steadily gaining weight for the past 5 years and I’ve finally hit a tipping point. I feel unattractive, undesirable, and unlovable. He was telling me those thoughts in my head weren’t true.

I am attractive, I am desirable, I am lovable.

I hugged him for a long time then we were off to bed. I feel like my response to his outpouring of love was sub-par. I don’t know how to take compliments like these? Automatically my mind said, he is lying. He is just trying to make you feel better. But he wasn’t lying. He was sincere. My husband opened his heart to me to try to explain to me how much he loved me.

How do I turn of that internal voice that is so mean to me? Those thoughts?

Forgiveness.

I forgive myself for gaining the weight. I forgive myself for being so angry all those years. I forgive myself for having those hateful thoughts about myself.

That’s all I can do.

To love someone else is easy. To love yourself, well that’s another story.

Time to build that relationship with myself. I wonder, if I had as much love for me as my husband does… how would my life be different. Well, hopefully I will find out soon enough.

– Sheila Chester

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Why WE Will Never Stop Going to Therapy

The first time my husband and I went to therapy was for pre-marital counseling with our pastor. A requirement for our pastor to marry us. We learned a lot about each other that we had been struggling with through our short relationship. Single ladies and gents… relationships are hard. They take work. A lot of work. If you go into a relationship not willing to give it 100% of your mental and physical energy, then you should probably stop now. Shit happens. Humans are just that, human. We make mistakes. We say things we don’t mean… or we say things we do mean that are mean. We say things in anger and in fear. We say things in the heat of the moment that we cannot take back. If everyone gave up in that moment, there would be no relationships ever.

Our first year of marriage we were lucky to be a part of our churches newly wed small group. We loved that group. Everyone argued over silly things like laundry and dishes. Do the forks face up or down? Yes we all got in serious arguments over ridiculous things. Especially that first year of figuring out how to live with each other. So many arguments about in-laws on all sides of the marriage. We were not so different after-all.

My husband and I have been in and out of therapy since that first year of marriage trying to find common ground in silly arguments… and those not so silly arguments.

Fertility problems triggered a big set of arguments for us. Our equal frustrations created a huge gap in communication as well as a loss of respect for each other. Blaming ourselves and each other for our lack of a child. We would go from therapist to therapist trying to find one that would fit my emotional needs and my husbands logical needs. It was a difficult process. In fact, we had one therapist suggest we get a divorce. She didn’t last very long. Another therapist suggested sex therapy. Nothing like discussing your (lacking) bedroom shinanigans with a total stranger. I’m sure there are good sex therapists but this was not one of them.

One therapist (ok she was a psychic) suggested we stop discussing divorce and start getting along like grown ass adults. Our marriage was not slotted to end in divorce. I don’t know if it was that she was a psychic or if that I really had not heard this statement before that got me to thinking. Either way, I started to see the hurt in my husbands heart and really tried to find that synergy we had when you first got married. When I opened my eyes and heart to his, he opened his to mine. Weird how that worked. A simple act of forgiveness can truly change the entire future of a marriage. Really, I was forgiving myself. My self-hate was coming out in anger toward my husband. He was just reacting to my crazy. It was a whole mess of crazy up in here. When I lessened the crazy, he lessened the reactions. We started to synergize again.

It was then we decided to adopt. Can you imagine any agency accepting a crazy couple like us? Every agency we asked regarding counseling and therapy congratulated us on our work on ourselves and our marriage and said it would have no affect on the adoption process. There were some international countries that wouldn’t accept families in counseling due to their out dated beliefs thinking therapy was for the seriously mentally ill.

We finally had a plan of action that almost guaranteed we would be a family of 3 sooner or later. Granted it didn’t make the waiting any easier. But we were finally in it TOGETHER in it. We were equally waiting. No blame. No guilt. Just waiting together.

We went through a hard failed adoption together and it made us stronger yet. Holding a child in your arms and then having her taken away makes you dig deep to just get up in the morning. But we endured it together.  Being fully TOGETHER is something we had never truly experienced.

When we were placed with our son we blossomed even more.

Even though our lives seemed put together we still had our moments. This past year we jumped back into therapy head first. We went in because we kept getting in arguments over the dishes… yes 10 years later… the dishes is what we fight about. Turns out dishes was actually my fear of becoming a dreaded ‘housewife’. Which I had some negative stereotypes against. I’ll discuss some of the changes I personally experienced in another post.

This new therapist is one we can both really connect with. My husband gets his logical needs met and I get my emotional needs met. We are both told to get our heads out of our asses and given homework to do. This therapist understands job security really well and keeps finding things we can work on as individuals and couples. The thing is, we are doing it! We are doing everything we are told to do. We are enjoying our sessions and looking forward to them each month. The dishes argument is still around… because seriously…. I hate the dishes. But we have other issues that come up… individually and as a couple. Sometimes our sessions are just a hooRAH session about how awesome we are doing as a couple…. because some days we totally kick ass at marriage. And some days… we argue about the dishes.

therapy-is

The point of me telling the internet this is that I know SO MANY couples who refuse to go to counseling. They refuse to get help in any way. They think therapy is for sick people or they finally agree to go when its too late. They think their religion is their therapy… or their sister is their therapy. Your sister is ALWAYS going to side with you!!   If your religion is your therapy, see your pastor! You need a third party to come in and tell you the truth. You need a third party to help your decipher your SHIT!

We went to therapy over the freakin’ dishes people! It’s never about the dishes! It’s always something deeper.

But I’m too busy with the kids. I’m too busy with my job. We don’t have the money right now. It’s JUST NOT a priority right now.

What happens when you don’t make your marriage a priority? What if you took your marriage more seriously than your ego?

It doesn’t take too much thought to know the answer to that.

Look. Divorce happens. I’m not saying I’m against divorce. It has its place and in many instances it’s necessary. I’m just saying, unless your physically beating the crap out of each other, give it everything you got before it gets to the big ‘D’. Before it even starts to get to that point.

-Sheila

A note from my husband: 

I’ve been going to therapy for quite some time now, many times with my wife, sometimes by myself.  Is there anything “wrong” with my marriage?  Nope.  Is there anything “wrong” with me?  Nope.  But that doesn’t mean that my marriage can’t be stronger or that I can’t be a stronger pillar in my marriage; it doesn’t mean that I can’t be better at dealing with stressful situations; and it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a better father…and that is why I no longer have a problem discussing with folks that I go to therapy pretty regularly.  The stigma that therapy is only for those who are “broken” or for marriages that are on the verge of failure needs to go away – therapy is for anyone who wants to grow, anyone who wants additional tools to handle the stresses of life more effectively.  I enjoy therapy for that very reason – I enjoy the personal introspection that I must do to grow, and I think many more people can benefit from therapy if we remove the notion that “I’m not broken, therefore I don’t need to go to therapy.”  Try it…you’ll like it, or at the very least, you’ll learn something.

-Justin Chester, Physicist, 4x Ironman finisher, Triathlon coach, involved father, devoted husband, Mans Man.

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