When Andy and I dated, I spent a lot of time praying about marriage. Was he the right person? Was I supposed to marry him? Was it God’s will? I felt so light and happy; was it real?
One day after praying, I read this verse in the Book of Mormon, “O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good.” (Alma 32:35)
It was a direct answer to my prayers. It was real and it was good.
We got married.
Year six has been an interesting year for us. At times, it has felt like we kept the “real” and left “light and happy” strewn along the way. We’ve had a lot of change. I quit a job and have been working flexibly from home most of the year (which I have loved!). I’ve been wrestling to understand God’s plan for me professionally as I’ve rearranged my life to be more present for my family. I started to pursue writing in earnest. Andy finished his first year of grad school and took on new, challenging projects. He worked on a non-profit he started. We had a miscarriage. And, perhaps most defining of all, Andy was diagnosed with ADHD.
We’ve spent a lot of time learning about ADHD. There are the basic symptoms, though they manifest completely differently in each person. There are the secondary symptoms that come from being diagnosed in adulthood; in essence living for decades without a true understanding or support for one’s learning and processing differences. There are the surprisingly predictable patterns that unfold in an ADHD marriage. When we are ready, Andy and I will write about all of these as they have shown up in our lives and family.
Let’s just say for now, that research suggests rates of marital dysfunction and divorce are twice as high for people with ADHD than for people without it.
For us, learning about ADHD was a miracle and a blessing. It helped us to understand some of the patterns and challenges in our relationship. It helped us to recognize that we were not, individually, the primary sources of the budding dysfunctions in a marriage that had been joyful and close. It helped us to understand that many of our confusing, seemingly unresolvable obstacles (some of which I wrote about here without an understanding of ADHD) could be traced directly to this diagnosable, supportable medical condition that had invisibly and deeply touched everything in our lives. It helped us feel greater empathy and understanding for each other. We have been indescribably grateful to learn about ADHD and to start a new journey of love and growth together.
Though this path has been blessed and welcomed, it has not been easy and we still have much to learn. There have been times when I’ve wondered in my heart and in prayer, Heavenly Father, why? This is not what I signed up for when we got married. This is not how I expected or wanted my life to unfold.
There are times when I’ve questioned my initial decision to get married, when I’ve even questioned my love for Andy. Those are the really tough times.
But recently I’ve been wondering, what are we really signing up for when we get married anyway? A long ride into the sunset on the back of a cookie-baking unicorn?
Because who gets married and hopes, maybe one day my husband will have cancer and I’ll have to sacrifice everything to care for him? Maybe one day, my wife will have Alzheimer’s and forget who I am? Maybe one day, one of us will lose a job and we will lose our home? Maybe one day, we’ll learn that we can’t have children? Maybe one day, we will have triplets? Maybe one day, we’ll move across the country, away from our jobs and friends, to care for ailing parents? Maybe one day, one of us will die early, leaving the other to raise our children alone?
But it happens. And that’s life. And that’s marriage. And that’s love.
I’ve learned that we don’t know everything we’re signing up for when we get married. But when we fall in love and when we get married, we are signing up for life together, no matter what it brings. We are signing up to fight each other’s battles. We are signing up to stand together in the face of every obstacle and challenge that may come our way. We are signing up to support each other always. We are signing up to never stop trying, learning, understanding, growing and loving. It isn’t always easy, but it sure it beautiful.
Learning about Andy’s ADHD has strengthened our love and marriage. It has brought us even closer than before, deepened our communication, and opened windows of reflection and understanding. I think we are planting seeds of that time-tested, weathered, unbreakable, lasting love that we see between elderly couples holding hands on benches in the park. That will be us one day. We are going to be the cutest, frumpiest old couple you ever did see.
In a beautiful reminder of the magic, light and happiness that is real in our marriage, Andy set up a romantic anniversary dinner right in our own living room. Because only he would know that this year, I’d rather have a romantic dinner at home on the floor than in a fancy restaurant anywhere else. And because he loves me, he let me watch Zootopia even though he’d researched romantic classics and had Roman Holiday cued up and ready to go.
Our magic is more alive than ever.