“I God, take you…” My husband’s vows were interrupted by an explosion of laughter.
Did he really just call himself God? I shook my head and joined in the laughter.
“Let’s try that again,” the minister said. “Maybe a little bit slower this time. I K.Y.L.E…”
Laughter has always been the thread that holds our relationship together. On our first date, I laughed so hard I peed my pants. After our second date, my stomach muscles were sore from laughing so hard. Although, I’m sure they weren’t half as sore as my husband’s, since his epic fall off his bike was the source of my laughter. He literally flattened himself onto the pavement and then popped right back up as if nothing had happened. He was trying to play it cool. I was trying not to pee my pants again.
The first year of our relationship held a lot of laughter. And the laughter brought with it immense joy. A joy I had previously not known. It was a joy that made problems seem insignificant. A joy that made life worth living.
When my husband and I exchanged our vows we thought were signing up for a lifetime of joy. When we said the words “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health” we expected more better than worse. We planned on more health than sickness.
But life happened, the way it does, different from how we planned. In the six years we’ve been married, there’s been far more sickness than health. My sickness to be exact. And this isn’t at all what either of us signed up for.
He didn’t sign up for that feeling he got when he walked through the door and found our three-week-old baby purple in the face from screaming so long. The anger he felt as he looked over at his wife, who was sitting on the couch with a black stare on her face. She had no clue the baby was crying.
He didn’t sign up for the fear he feels each time he leaves the children home with a wife who is emotionally and medically unstable.
He didn’t sign up for tears and frustration that come with having your wife tell you that there is something medically wrong with her and doctors not knowing how to help.
He didn’t sign up for the countless hours and days spent at hospitals, ERs and urgent care waiting rooms, all with one, two or three kids in tow.
He didn’t sign up to be a single dad to three toddler boys and a caretaker to their mom.
He didn’t sign up for a relationship void of touch because it hurts her too bad.
This is not what he signed up for.
And this isn’t what I signed up for.
I didn’t sign up for a body that would start failing me as soon as we started having kids.
I didn’t sign up for a mind that would take me somewhere else, robbing me of precious moments with my infant son.
I didn’t sign up for the pit in my stomach that comes as I watch my life happen around me, eager to join in but incapable of doing so.
I didn’t sign up for the anger and constant fighting with my husband because I so desperately wish that he could understand.
I didn’t sign up for the rude remarks that he whispers under his breath when he thinks I can’t hear him. I know I don’t look sick but it’s not all in my head.
I didn’t sign up for the guilt I feel for not being the mom my boys deserve and the wife my husband used to have.
This is not what I signed up for.
And this is not what we signed up for.
We didn’t sign up for the severe hyperemesis gravidarum that made pregnancy unbearable for both of us. We didn’t sign up for the danger post partum depression would bring into our home. We didn’t sign up for the still undiagnosed autoimmune disease that makes each day entirely unpredictable.
We didn’t sign up for this.
But last night, as I watched him play with our boys from the bed I made myself on the couch, I realized this is exactly what I signed up for.
“Daddy, what are boobies?”
The sweet sound of our three-year-old’s voice filled the room. I could barely lift my head, but I lifted it enough for our eyes to meet.
We were laughing.
After six years, we are still laughing. The laughter still brings with it immense joy. The laughter still makes our problems seem insignificant. The laughter still makes life worth living, together.
The laughter is still the thread that holds us together.
And that is exactly what we signed up for.