This is Marriage
Right now I’m sitting in a hospital waiting room. Or, to be exact, I’m sitting in the hallway outside of the waiting room, at a workstation specifically designed for people like me. People who are waiting in a hospital.
I am waiting for Joe. At this moment, he is gowned and unconscious, undergoing a surgery called a discectomy, where they cut a teeny tiny hole in his lower back and shave away the bulging disc that’s been infringing on his sciatic nerve since Father’s Day.
This bulging disc has likely been in progress for years—decades, even. Years of poor posture and carrying toddlers and stacking wood has contributed to the slow pop of an unhappy disc. And finally, a heavy deadlift at Crossfit was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.
About an hour ago I watched while Joe undressed and put on his pale blue hospital gown. I watched him kick off the new brown shoes I made him buy during a recent trip to the outlets, so I could get a pair of orange suede heels half off.
As he shoved his clothes into a white plastic bag, I thought about how earlier this week he’d cleaned out his closet, discarding old flannels he’d had since college, worn-out sneakers and socks with holes. He held up a pair of cordovan dress shoes he’d bought during our very first shopping trip together nineteen years ago and said with a smile, “Remember these?”
Dressed in light blue scrubs, the surgeon popped into the room just as Joe settled into the hospital bed. The two of them started to go over the procedure, to talk about how Joe would not breathe on his own during the two-hour surgery. I focused my gaze on the toe of his brown shoe sticking out of the shiny bag.
And I thought; this is marriage. One day you’re shopping with a cute guy you just met for shoes to wear to his cousin’s wedding, and before you know it you’re convincing that same guy the brown leather shoes look great as you slip your foot into a pair for yourself. And then—just weeks after that—those new brown shoes he reluctantly bought for himself will sit, discarded, in a room down the hall while someone else breathes for him.
I write a lot about raising our five kids and autism and victories on Thanksgiving and lime juicers and blah blah blah-dey blah. But the truth is, some days this marriage is so hard. It is so hard I can barely breathe. No one—and I do mean no one—makes me as angry, as frustrated, as enraged, as this man does.
The biggest argument we’ve ever had—and believe me, we’ve had some doozies—was over Oreos. Yes, you read that right: the biggest fight I’ve ever had with my husband was over a chocolate wafer cookie. (To be fair, they were double-stuffed, and I think that ups the ante a bit.)
We’d been married less than a year, and I had to go to a dinner for work. It was incredibly boring, and I spent most of the long evening nodding my head and looking forward to going home, climbing into my pajamas, and eating a few cookies before bed.
I walked into our apartment just in time to see Joe holding the empty blue cellophane bag—plastic cookie divider cast aside on the floor— and shaking the last of the chocolate crumbs into his mouth.
I was outraged. How selfish! How greedy and thoughtless and disgusting. Before long, the argument took on a life of its own, launching itself from a Nabisco product to everything that was wrong with us as a couple. You never think about anyone but yourself! You overreact to everything!
We didn’t speak for days.
In the middle of huge arguments like The Great Oreo Fight, I often have the sensation I am teetering on the edge of a large abyss, that Joe and I are separated by the deepest chasm. Married, yes. But also so very alone.
I know divorce. I’ve personally experienced three divorces, not one of which has been my own. I am not afraid of divorce. But somehow, thus far, Joe and I have always managed to cross the gulf that separates us. To buy a new bag of Oreos and move on.
This is marriage. It is standing on the edge of the abyss and saying, I choose to stay. Today, I will stay.
As Joe’s leg pain worsened all summer and two cortisone shots did nothing to help the inflammation, to relieve the pressure on his aggravated nerve, it became clear that surgery was the next step.
Once he explained the recovery to me—no lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk for six weeks, no driving for two, no twisting or bending—I developed a plan for him. He would go to his parents for at least a week, where he could rest and recuperate without a 55-pound four-year old launching at him like a cannonball. When he came home I would drive him back and forth to work.
But Joe didn’t want this. He didn’t want to go to his parents for that long and he didn’t want me driving him around and in general he didn’t want me to be the boss of him. It was infuriating.
I confided in Phoebe when we met to talk about Jack’s progress with fire drills, figuring she would take my side. She didn’t.
Instead she said, “I hear fear in your voice. So why do you go straight to anger? Sit with the fear a moment. Let yourself feel it.”
And sitting on her light brown couch with a giant Elmo peering over my shoulder, I did. I let myself feel my fear.
For the first time since June, I talked about how scared I was to see Joe’s health decline, to see him wait ten minutes before getting out of the car. I wept describing how he struggled to toss the football with the boys and twirl Rose in the air.
How terrifying it is to see the strongest man I know falter.
Sitting here in my tiny workstation outside of the waiting room, I am feeling my fear again, and I notice I have a pit in my stomach – another leg to the emotional spider. With Joe in an operating room somewhere down the hall, I realize there is yet another dimension.
I am afraid this is my fault.
I mean, I was the one who pushed him into Crossfit, who nagged him to get in shape and exercise. And if I can’t control his recovery—if one of the kids jumps on him or he forgets and lifts a chair, then that will be my fault too.
This is marriage.
A few years ago I got up in the middle of the night for some water. I walked towards the door as Joe came out of the bathroom, and when we passed each other sleepily he reached out his arms and hugged me for a long moment.
For days afterwards I lived with that moment in my heart and my mind. I marveled that this person could love me so instinctively, so thoroughly, to reach out half awake and embrace me without even thinking about it.
It is this memory I cling to like a life preserver when the storms of marital rage and frustration sweep over me, when the scenes in the barbershop become epic or he walks in ten minutes late from work for the third day in a row.
This is the Joe I am thinking of now.
Shifting a little in my hard plastic chair, I go online and look up Webster-Merriam’s definition of marriage. It uses weird words like state of being united and recognized by law and intimate union.
Yes, it’s a union and yes, it is contractual, but it’s so much more.
It is sitting in a hospital fifteen years later and realizing it wasn’t about the cookies after all. I went straight to anger in order to avoid the really scary thoughts; you don’t love me enough and I have made a mistake and this marriage will never work. To avoid my fear.
It is finding grace again and again in the small gestures; buying shoes and eating Oreos and spontaneously embracing in the dark hours of the night.
It is complicated and raw and tender and long and giddy and miserable and scary and exhausting and exhilarating and broken and yet whole and I know this is a lot of adjectives but they’re all true.
It is waiting, waiting, waiting for the surgeon in the blue scrubs to tap me on the shoulder and tell me it all went fine, that within a few hours my husband will slip on his new brown shoes and walk out of the door—sore from surgery, groggy from anesthesia, but free of the live wire that has electrified his leg for the past five months.
That he is breathing on his own so I don’t have to do it alone.
This is marriage.
November 11, 2013 @ 1:39 pm
Good luck, Dr. Joe. Hope all goes well. Carrie, I went through this twice with my husband. It’s hard to watch someone suffer. He’ll be fine once he’s on the mend. Prayers to you both and to the kids.
November 11, 2013 @ 1:48 pm
As usual, thanks for the perspective on why do we go to anger? Something drives us there besides the 16 year old. I like that you said we should stop and feel the fear.
November 11, 2013 @ 2:12 pm
Very honest look at marriage; many of us feel exactly the same. Good luck to you as Joe recovers. I went through this with my husband twice. We are both patients of Dr. Joe and wish him a speedy recovery.
November 11, 2013 @ 2:40 pm
I really hope his surgery accomplishes what it is supposed to do! God bless you guys :o)
November 11, 2013 @ 2:40 pm
PS..Buy him some gourmet cookies LOL
November 11, 2013 @ 4:59 pm
perfect to read this on our 13 year anniversary. enjoy the ride!
November 11, 2013 @ 6:10 pm
Amazing how you, married such a short time ( relatively speaking ) can describe married so succinctly! So glad Joe is getting better.
November 11, 2013 @ 7:26 pm
Wow. Yes, that is exactly it.
November 12, 2013 @ 12:46 pm
Thank you so much. I find my self going right to Anger far too much lately.
November 12, 2013 @ 2:47 pm
Thoroughly enjoyed this piece Carrie, and can so identify with your thoughts on marriage. It is complicated and beautiful at the same time. I don’t write about my marriage enough, and I think those of us in the throes can benefit from stories about how mundane yet wonderful marriage can be! Thanks for sharing this piece of you and your husband, I hope he recovers quickly!
November 13, 2013 @ 10:36 am
Carrie- You are a gifted writer! I love your stories and how spot on you are with everything! I hope all is well with Joe this week.
November 14, 2013 @ 7:13 am
This is just beautiful and so timely for me as I head to an ortho consult with my husband for a bulging disc. Our big fight wasn’t over Oreos (totally worthy of a fight) but a seat in my van. 18 years of choosing each other and getting ready to do this achy/aging/broken thing together.
Thank-you for sharing.
November 14, 2013 @ 9:27 am
So true !
November 14, 2013 @ 9:54 am
What a beautiful reflection of marriage. Good luck (to both of you) with recovery.
November 14, 2013 @ 10:10 am
Wow. This is beautiful! Can I share it with my friends?
We have 5 children and have been married 18 1/2 years. I can’t wait to read your other articles. Marriage is hard, hard, hard but worth it.
November 14, 2013 @ 10:17 am
I would love if you shared! Thank you for reading!
November 14, 2013 @ 10:12 am
I just went on Amazon and bought your book!!
November 14, 2013 @ 11:30 am
Beautiful…I have tears right now. We have been married 8 years, after long marriages with others. That makes us older and every day I fear that when I get up, he won’t be there to hug me good morning. I fear what will happen to me if something happens to him. We argue, we fuss and we fight, but I love him with all my heart. Thank you for a wonderful piece.
November 14, 2013 @ 11:36 am
My favorite line is the where you say “Today I will stay”. That’s me regularly. I don’t think anyone goes into marriage knowing just how difficult it can be. Or how much can happen in a short or long amount of time. This was so well written. I hope your husband recovers quickly.
November 14, 2013 @ 11:44 am
Last month, I suffered sudden cardiac arrest and ended up in the hospital for nearly two weeks with several days of my life gone, notice of an impending open heart surgery and no real sense of what had happened. Frankly, I got the better end of the deal. My wife had had to sit by while I coded 18 times, while the fear and the anger grew. She would have to spend our 16th anniversary in your waiting room, dealing with family and friends as well as her own emotions, waiting to hear from doctors and nurses about how my hours long heart surgery was going. Now we and our four children are dealing with the aftermath, which honestly has been a series of graces. But thank you for giving me a window into what my wife is experiencing. She sent me this article only moments ago and I will be bringing her a bag of Oreos to our lunch date later today. ;-). God bless you and yours.
November 16, 2013 @ 3:08 pm
And now I understand why my marriages failed! 🙁
This is Marriage: Joe’s Side | Carrie Cariello
November 18, 2013 @ 10:25 am
[…] ← This is Marriage […]
November 19, 2013 @ 4:57 pm
There is a poignancy to this post that literally breaks my heart in half. You two work so well together, that I, for one, pray you never have to breathe alone!
November 24, 2013 @ 3:12 pm
What an awesome blog! I hope Joe gets better soon!
November 24, 2013 @ 3:22 pm
Best wishes on Joe’s recovery and strength to you as you hold it all together. Your rendition of marriage is the realest i have ever read. Thank you for sharing. Joining the club pretty soon – first timer.
November 24, 2013 @ 3:55 pm
I’m a tough cookie and yet this has managed to bring a few drops of water to my eyes. This made me think of me and my boyfriend; granted we aren’t married. But those feelings..I’ve had a lot of them before. Thank you for posting this, it was beautiful.
November 24, 2013 @ 3:55 pm
Reblogged this on Feral Soul and commented:
November 24, 2013 @ 4:08 pm
I loved your point of view and you reminded me of Kahlil Gibran’s book ‘The Prophet’
This is an excerpt on the subject of marriage: (a very good read over all, I highly recommend it)
“You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
November 24, 2013 @ 4:15 pm
An earlier poster said this was a short term marriage??? IN all actuality these days 19 years is a LONG term marriage..Beautiful thing to see people still hang in there & realize it IS for better , for worse, forever (@ Joe’s comments..) 2 thumbs UP on both sides of this write..Virtual high 5^
November 24, 2013 @ 4:20 pm
Poetic and honest. It is marriage and it is love, consistent and emotional. I know you’ll love each other more because of this.
Susannah Ailene Martin
November 24, 2013 @ 5:41 pm
Wow, that was beautiful. It’s great to see someone who still understands marriage.
November 24, 2013 @ 5:53 pm
Having been in the hospital for 3 discs that magically herniated you paint such a true piece of art on the journey we call marriage.
November 24, 2013 @ 7:04 pm
“This is marriage. It is standing on the edge of the abyss and saying, I choose to stay. Today, I will stay.” Yes, that is exactly it. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, and speedy recovery to your mate.
November 24, 2013 @ 8:35 pm
So beautifully written. I’m a newlywed and this feels both realistic and inspiring. Good luck with recovery!
November 24, 2013 @ 8:58 pm
so true about our emotions. We have fear, but somehow we go straight to anger because we fear losing control of the situation. And often when I am angry, I cry, because that is more socially acceptable in my generation. I am so glad your husband is feeling better.
November 24, 2013 @ 9:09 pm
I am only 22 and am engaged with my boyfriend who I have only been dating for a year and a half, and this had given me that extra insight on how marriage is. I mean, Ive understood that there will be times like this but never really understood how Im going to feel. It seems more like a duty to me, marriage. You do it because you have to because you WANT to have to. But I have never thought about how you said, when my man who I see is so strong and who I depend on for security, starts to become weak at some point. My fiance has anxiety, pretty bad sometimes & thats been a tough roller coaster. To not blame him when our dinner is ruined because he feels anxious in public and must leave. Or when our son is just being nuts and it stresses him out & he leaves me with the duties. Its very hard already, but I know its made me love him truly for those times that we have both stuck it out. Youre doing a good job & your husband is lucky.
The Dependent Life
November 24, 2013 @ 9:38 pm
This is so beautiful. The thing that stuck with me is the part about going straight to anger, instead of staying with the fear. Wow. That made me think. I need to be slower to be angry and instead analyze where it’s coming from. Thanks for making me think.
November 24, 2013 @ 9:59 pm
Reblogged this on footsteps to follow and commented:
This brought me to tears. I am still really young, only in high school young, but I pray to have a marriage that’s so rewarding. If that’s what marriage is then I say bring it on ,one day ill marry my Romeo.
November 25, 2013 @ 12:21 am
Excellent post! Very good description of love and marriage. I hope Joe is doing well!
November 25, 2013 @ 12:56 am
God bless us all on this journey of intimate relationships and contractual obligations. It is the wildest ride I could never have imagined and it scares the hell out of me every day and has for over 26 years and I wouldn’t trade the midnight, sleepy hugs and the waiting for the doctors to come tell me I will be whole again when he awakens for anything in the world. It is fragile, it is intimate, and it is the relationship that is the portal to complete joy.
May the force be with you and Joe.
November 25, 2013 @ 1:12 am
Reblogged this on Moments of Reflection and commented:
Quite interesting…and Oreos lol
Fiona McQuarrie (@all_about_work)
November 25, 2013 @ 1:16 am
This is a great piece of writing. Best wishes to you and your husband while he recovers!
November 25, 2013 @ 1:26 am
Reblogged this on f.
November 25, 2013 @ 2:30 am
This really resonated, especially the bit about how you can be married yet feel alone – something I am still trying to get my head around. I recently got married and wasn’t expecting this. You are right about the fear, what a brilliant insight. Thanks for writing this.
November 25, 2013 @ 2:34 am
wonderful post ,
November 25, 2013 @ 3:19 am
You know, when I read the freshly pressed title ‘so this is marriage’ I thought, oh no, another male bashing article. Glad I overcame my fear and checked you out. I don’t know you, nor do I know Joe but your piece made me reach for the hankie. Nice post.
November 25, 2013 @ 3:25 am
I am a college student, feeling as though I found the love of my life. This post inspires me that it truly exists. Praying for a successful surgery and smooth recovery, hang tight in the waiting room.
November 25, 2013 @ 3:35 am
Good luck. Thanks for letting me know! 🙂
November 25, 2013 @ 5:09 am
prayers all your way 🙁
November 25, 2013 @ 6:00 am
This was actually so inspiring to read. Im not married but its nice to hear that despite the really bad times you guys clearly love each other so much! Inspiration for girls like me.
November 25, 2013 @ 6:22 am
Wonderfully written. Good luck!
November 25, 2013 @ 6:25 am
Lovely and inspiring piece. And how I can relate about the not being able to fix someone else — a life lesson I seem to have to learn again and again.
One word of advice on the disc stuff: gentle yoga!
November 25, 2013 @ 6:28 am
… never mind: I just read your “about” — and you know this already!
Food For Thought | Team Aidan
November 25, 2013 @ 6:42 am
[…] to me as well. She lives in New Hampshire and has a son with Autism. I loved her most recent piece on marriage. Yes, choosing love, she’s clearly my […]
November 25, 2013 @ 7:11 am
Hope he is better by now so you can restart the Oreo WWII. Lovely post.
November 25, 2013 @ 7:56 am
Thank you for this. We aren’t married, hopefully one day, but my long time boyfriend and I had a blow out fight the other day about nothing and it turned into everything. And I told him it was ok to hate me sometimes. He didn’t seem to think it was ok. He thought it meant we were bad. I think it means we’re normal.
November 25, 2013 @ 8:21 am
Thank you, this makes me feel much better and opens up my eyes to some things I’ve been dealing with in my own relationship with my fiancé.
November 25, 2013 @ 8:25 am
I enjoyed the perspective. I’ve only been married 6 months and there are days I feel like I’ve made the choice to stay. This is work – but I love my husband dearly. So worth it.
BTW – white fudge covered Oreos are in stores now. Only for the holiday season – love them!!! Speedy recovery.
November 25, 2013 @ 8:29 am
“This is marriage. It is standing on the edge of the abyss and saying, I choose to stay.Today, I will stay”. This is the powerful statement that I will carry with me. Thank you for sharing your journey with us
November 25, 2013 @ 9:29 am
true love is destiny
James R. Clawson
November 25, 2013 @ 10:18 am
Thanks for sharing. I can remember two years ago, I two was on a hospital bed after going through a 6 hour surgery for tongue cancer. Only 30 days before had I been diagnosed. But after the surgery my wife was by my side holding my hand. Having tubes and all sorts of objects on me to help me get through this time was very stressful. That first night I had a very difficult time breathing but I had survived the hardest part and am especially thankful for a loving and caring wife who has been by my side for over 16 years. I too am thankful for marriage this time of the year!
November 25, 2013 @ 10:32 am
So so so beautifully written.
November 25, 2013 @ 10:49 am
Painfully honest and beautifully put. I hope his recovery is quick and you buy two bags of Oreos–one for each of you:)
November 25, 2013 @ 11:26 am
Your blog resonates…it made me smile and nod my head. Thank you so much and good luck.
November 25, 2013 @ 11:54 am
This is gorgeous and so well-done.
My husband has seen me through (!) three orthopedic surgeries in the 13.5 years we’ve been together and the last one (Feb. 2012) was my left hip replacement. Serious shit. He took three weeks’ vacation to help me heal, clean my 12-staple wound every day and walk me around the garages for PT. It takes a lot of grace to handle an ill/injured/healing spouse. That IS marriage.
Great post and best of luck to you both as he heals.
November 25, 2013 @ 11:59 am
Beautiful post. “No one—and I do mean no one—makes me as angry, as frustrated, as enraged, as this man does.” so true. I remember when I fell out with my husband over cornettos.
November 25, 2013 @ 12:38 pm
Been there. My wife especially as I struggled to get to life after a stroke. It took three months from the initial I am going to die phase to I will survive phase. Life kicks you ever so often and lets you know how fragile you can be. I am glad your situation turned out favorably. The best Barry
November 25, 2013 @ 1:06 pm
I’m not married, not yet anyways. I do however have a girlfriend with whom I raise both our child and her child part time. Even though we aren’t married, your post resonated with me. Partly due to the description of the fights and how they are usually about little things like Oreos (we had one once when I got the wrong fruit & nut mix), but mostly because of your statements of deciding to stay. Making the decision to stay each day. I understand that thought process and can thank my parents for that. They told me very clearly, you might not always like the one you love, but that doesn’t mean you stop loving them.
November 25, 2013 @ 1:37 pm
It is such an honest piece. Great.
Lindsey (Currie) Dubois
November 25, 2013 @ 1:54 pm
Beautiful and raw. Sounds like a true and real partnership that will survive and thrive within the inevitable twists and turns of fate. Thank you for sharing.
Have a lovely day,
November 25, 2013 @ 2:50 pm
That day when you walk down the ailse….how does one feel?
November 25, 2013 @ 3:30 pm
Fingers crossed for you both! Being a nurse, I see what you describe every day.
Check my blog out? It’s at http:// bumpless .wordpress .com 🙂
November 25, 2013 @ 4:38 pm
Çok sevindim Joe daha iyi oluyor.
November 25, 2013 @ 4:40 pm
This is such an amazing post. Putting into words so many emotions in a beautiful way. I do hope your husband is doing well.
November 25, 2013 @ 4:53 pm
An amazing post – I’ve been married for 10 years and i completely understand what you mean by the ‘abyss’ – thanks for posting 🙂
November 25, 2013 @ 5:52 pm
I adored this piece, I’m still at the Oreo stage of our relationship so this was like reading ahead. Thank you for sharing your words!
November 25, 2013 @ 5:54 pm
so true – and I’ve had experience this year of looking after hubby while he slowly recovers from surgery but I also remember that he has looked after me too when I’ve been ill and in hospital. it’s what you sign up for when you decide to get married
November 25, 2013 @ 6:06 pm
Reblogged this on ashrew_untamed and commented:
Yes’m this us marriage!
November 25, 2013 @ 6:35 pm
Praying for husband’s speedy and FULL recovery. Thank you for sharing. Your love for your husband is soooo very evident. Your family is very blessed. That your kids see their parents loving each other is something they will always carry with them.
November 25, 2013 @ 7:57 pm
Reblogged this on Being Fit 4 Me.
November 25, 2013 @ 9:17 pm
Reblogged this on Passionate Dreaming and commented:
This whole past year of marriage I have jumped to anger on most occasions. Maybe the anger saves me from the fear of losing the only man who ever loved me truly… the man who always put me first… despite my annoying antics and my pain in the ass ways… may leave me at any moment. And even though I want to put on my strong cap and say fuck it he can go… blah blah blah he will never find a wife like me… I can’t help the feeling of fear in the pit of my stomach that maybe one day I may just push the wrong button a little too hard. That’s marriage I suppose. =/
November 25, 2013 @ 9:25 pm
Refreshing to see honesty in marriage. Best wishes to you and your family and your husband’s speedy recovery.
November 25, 2013 @ 10:23 pm
Reblogged this on Sarah's Speculation.
November 25, 2013 @ 10:28 pm
Wow this is such a powerful read, barely took my eyes off the screen! Being such a cynical person on the subject of marriage, after two failed marriages. You given me a new prospective on the subject. I’ve seen family members go through 30yrs of marriage after meeting at school as childhood sweethearts and wondered how they did it?! Now I have a little insight into what makes a solid marriage which stands the battle of time. Keep writing… 🙂
November 25, 2013 @ 10:44 pm
Hope your husband recovers soon. When I had surgery, I dont know what I would have done without my wife.
The Modern Day Fairy Godmother
November 25, 2013 @ 11:38 pm
Reblogged this on The Modern Day Fairy Godmother and commented:
I absolutely love this! This is how I wish my future marriage to be like
November 26, 2013 @ 12:14 am
Hope joe gets better !
November 26, 2013 @ 12:46 am
This is a very touching blog. I am about to get married in a few months and I wonder what we will be like years from now.
November 26, 2013 @ 2:05 am
i was there once, waiting for a bone marrow transplant to take. just concentrate on the muffin!
November 26, 2013 @ 3:39 am
That was very touching and also very true…
November 26, 2013 @ 4:08 am
Reblogged this on mglweightloss.
November 26, 2013 @ 4:56 am
I wanted to leave a comment from the other side of this. You stopped by my blog, so I am not goi g to give you the run down bit I have had two back surgeries in the last three years. One part that caught me is the past where you say you feel like this could be your fault… It’s not. And ironically that guilt you feel is probably echoed a thousand fold for him.
One of the hardest things to deal with after back surgery is the guilt. You can’t do anything, you want to help, and you feel useless. But it is of the utmost importance that your husband swollow his pride and do nothing for the whole time. After the six weeks, retraining his core is so important… And it is important to maintain it to prevent further injuries. Look into transverse abdominals, and invest I a balance ball to sit on and exercise with.
If you’d like, I can put together a set of exercises for after the six weeks down time… I imagine you know some core work outs, but in rehab it is important to focus in small muscles, stabilizers and endurance, not the overall fitness that we usually train for. Although that is still important, it is imperative that he reactivates the muscles that shut down after injury.
I hope something I have said helps. Please remember that nothing you could have done would have changed this. Its not your fault nor is it his. Tell him you love him everyday and Hold on to your belief that this is marriage. It isn’t easy to take care of someone after back surgery but if you can manage to support him without taking away his independence or making him feel like he owes you for it you are an amazing woman.
Please feel free to ask me anything.
Best, and good luck!
November 26, 2013 @ 6:18 am
so honest, raw and beautiful.
November 26, 2013 @ 7:53 am
Beautiful reflection, finding the greatness in the little things … little drops of emotional glue. Thanks for sharing.
November 26, 2013 @ 8:20 am
Reblogged this on The Odyssey That Is Life and commented:
Simple yet profound.
November 26, 2013 @ 8:28 am
I can totally identify with all the feelings, with the fear, with the anger, and with the stupid fight (ours was over toothpaste). Thanks for putting so many emotions into words.
November 26, 2013 @ 9:31 am
Great post….I sat where you sat twice…my husband down the hall doing the same exact surgery for the same exact reasons…throwing kids on the bed, getting firewood, etc etc etc. It was so eerily real as I read your post….only it happened to me in 1994 and 1996. Today Marty is not completely well…but he can walk which he couldn’t do before the first surgery. Not only walk, but get wood, climb mountains, hunt with his kids…the oldest is 30…the youngest 13. And ski a 32 mile long cross country ski race…he has done it 21 times…this next is his 22nd. He has pain, the electric shocks to his leg make him involuntarily yelp at times, but oh what a joy that he is otherwise healthy and still doing the things he loves…living an active and involved and healthy life style. Praying that your husband and you get to experience a similar recovery and joyful life. Thanks for your post…it was a great Thanksgiving read!
November 26, 2013 @ 11:14 am
Reblogged this on LA-Quisha's Traveling Pants and commented:
And this is #howtheymakelovework
Beautiful and deep reality of everyday struggles that couples face and are able to overcome because of their LOVE!
November 26, 2013 @ 1:32 pm
This beautifully written! I love your view on the subject. The ups and downs, the Oreos, and especially the fear….what we do when we CARE enough, to make it work.
Thank you for your post! Indeed worthy of a Freshly Pressed post!!
November 26, 2013 @ 2:03 pm
Well said. Marriage is living life — all the good and the bad — together. As a team. Two people promising to be there to laugh and rejoice in the good times, and support, love, and share the burdens during the bad. My wife and I are 20 years into our journey, and she is seeing my health decline a bit for the first time, as I have to fight colon cancer. It’s hard for her, but our love only grows stronger, and our relationship grows even deeper. 🙂 Prayers for you and your husband, and your family. 🙂 Hang on and enjoy the ride.
November 26, 2013 @ 2:55 pm
November 26, 2013 @ 5:42 pm
Carrie- I’ve lived this story but from the other side, under anesthesia for a lumbar discectomy. My husband in the waiting room. P.S. my surgeon once described the wearing down of a disk like repeatedly bending a wire hanger. Eventually it breaks. Most people are simply picking up a pencil not doing crossfit the moment it goes. I hope he is on the mend and without the pain which I find wears on you if it goes to long. At least this was the excuse I allowed for my misguided temper bursts in my marriage.
Which brings me to the meat of this post. I followed along with every word so aware of what marriage takes, the highlights and lowlights that weave together an intimate connection. Thank you for sharing. I am heading into another surgery soon. This time without my husband since we’ve divorced. Just reading this made me appreciate him and even miss him just a bit. Thank you.
November 26, 2013 @ 7:09 pm
Oh sweet mercy this is beautiful.
November 26, 2013 @ 8:40 pm
November 27, 2013 @ 12:43 am
Reblogged this on life coach.
November 27, 2013 @ 3:01 am
Reblogged this on mygrandbiz003.
November 27, 2013 @ 4:52 am
My wishes are with you.
November 27, 2013 @ 7:56 am
Oh. it’s always the oreos. Or the tv remote. Or the shoe left by the door that gets tripped over that starts the most epic battles isn’t it?
Thanks for such an honest piece. It really sheds some light on some of the most raw emotions of relationships doesn’t it?
November 27, 2013 @ 8:39 am
Marriage certainly has its ups and downs, but at least there are still people like you who understand that you committed to each other–for better or for worse. Unfortunately in this day and age of a throw away society, many people view marriage the same way they would with getting a new phone–out with the old when it give you some trouble and replace it with a shinier model. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
Doodling Through Life
November 27, 2013 @ 10:59 pm
beautifully written ~ I shared this with my family as enjoyed your thoughts so. True!
November 28, 2013 @ 7:21 am
This was beautiful. Good to know some people still understand the truths in life.
November 28, 2013 @ 7:32 am
Am sure Joe is all hale and hearty by now and is doing well. This is marriage where one feels and lives the pains and joys of another. Your post left me so emotional, especially these parts “and when we passed each other sleepily he reached out his arms and hugged me for a long moment”
“Yes, it’s a union and yes, it is contractual, but it’s so much more.”
“It is complicated and raw and tender and long and giddy and miserable and scary and exhausting and exhilarating and broken and yet whole and I know this is a lot of adjectives but they’re all true. That he is breathing on his own so I don’t have to do it alone.”
Sending my prayers and wishes to you and your Joe. May you have many 19 years of marriage 🙂
Good luck and thanks for warming me up with sharing the love you two have.
November 28, 2013 @ 11:56 am
I loved reading this post. Touching, honest and beautifully written.
November 28, 2013 @ 1:00 pm
I was so touched by your post. It made me both heartened to hear something so positive about marriage and love and intimacy and slightly sad to realise that I no longer have that. Cherish it – I’m sure you do. Thank you for sharing. And really beautifully written. Here’s mine – a different world, different outcome but a love story of sorts nonetheless. http://whatwouldkirstieallsopdo.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/never-accidentally-marry-a-gay-man-part-5-the-serious-one/
November 28, 2013 @ 1:07 pm
Thank you for sharing this lovely post. A frank and very touching insight into a marriage. I replied earlier and it disappeared so if I’ve sent this twice apologies! What I wanted to say was how heartened I was to hear a positive and realistic account of an intimate relationship and how it also made me a tiny bit sad that I no longer have this. I wish you both well. Here’s my account – a different world in every way – but a love story nonetheless. Of sorts. http://whatwouldkirstieallsopdo.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/never-accidentally-marry-a-gay-man-part-5-the-serious-one/
November 28, 2013 @ 6:55 pm
Reblogged this on Wifopal's Blog.
November 28, 2013 @ 11:35 pm
Beautiful words. I hope all goes well with your husbands surgery. x
Freshly Riffed 58: Turn Him ‘Round, Paddle His Rear | A VERY STRANGE PLACE
November 29, 2013 @ 1:10 am
[…] This Is Marriage […]
November 29, 2013 @ 6:37 am
Reblogged this on Chronicles of the Life of a STRANGER called Me and commented:
I loved, LOVED this post.. God bless our marriages!
November 29, 2013 @ 6:40 am
Loved, LOVED this post. God bless our marriages, and may God continue to bless your mariage for countless many more years. In Jesus name. Amen.
November 30, 2013 @ 3:38 am
Very nice to hear being in the pre marriage state!
November 30, 2013 @ 2:29 pm
I am new to blogging, and looking around here I stumbled onto you and this story. It sounds JUST LIKE my life with my husband (also an MD) and we also have a son on the spectrum..so I am inspired BEYOND words on a page. I can do this, too. Just like you, writing from the heart, about life and marriage and motherhood, and the stuff of every day life.
Thank you for sharing.
November 30, 2013 @ 2:34 pm
Reblogged this on Fun Food Photography by Jeanne and commented:
How do I follow you?
November 30, 2013 @ 8:22 pm
Hello! You can follow me here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whatcolorismonday Thanks for reading!
November 30, 2013 @ 7:29 pm
Reblogged this on H Jacob Buller and commented:
This is good…
Turning Pages: Of Books and Life
December 1, 2013 @ 6:02 pm
Your thoughts about marriage touched me very deeply and have definitely mirrored my own experiences (happily, without any spousal surgeries – yet). It is a wild and crazy ride! Thank you so much for sharing such intimate thoughts!
December 1, 2013 @ 11:17 pm
I enjoyed this! My husband and I sound much like you guys…except our biggest fight was over FETA CHEESE! Ha! Hope your husband feels better & you stay sane 🙂
A Letter to Jack | Carrie Cariello
December 2, 2013 @ 5:32 pm
[…] sickness or a disease, and as far as I know, there is no real cure. I don’t know if you’ll get married, but frankly some days I’m not sure we’ll marry any of you […]
December 2, 2013 @ 8:04 pm
Reblogged this on Sue's Simple Snippets and commented:
A simply, completely, accurate take on what it means to be married.
Guest Post: ‘This is Marriage’….. | Funhouse
December 3, 2013 @ 1:09 pm
[…] POSTED ON NOVEMBER 11, 2013 BY CCARIELLO […]
December 3, 2013 @ 1:53 pm
Very well written, detailed and amazing, all the best to Joe and hopefully he returns back to how he was, all the respect to you and thanks for such a deep post I really enjoyed reading.
December 4, 2013 @ 10:36 am
As a newlywed I really appreciate the honesty in this post and the rawness of feeling that can so often come from fear in a relationship.
And it was a thought very similar to yours that convinced me I was ready for marriage in the first place: “This is marriage. It is standing on the edge of the abyss and saying, I choose to stay. Today, I will stay.”
Thanks you for sharing
December 5, 2013 @ 11:21 pm
I came across this entry by accident. Now it’s almost midnight, I’m sitting at my desk, crying almost too hard to be able to see the screen, and thinking about the man that sits at the other end of our apartment and how much I love him.
and how hard it would be if I lost him.
Thank you for your strength. You have moved me so greatly with just your experience and your words.
Epiphany!! | Adventures in Marriage and Motherhood
December 7, 2013 @ 1:53 pm
[…] was reading this blog post (you can find it here: https://carriecariello.com/2013/11/11/this-is-marriage/ ) and she said the reason she will jump to anger is so she doesn’t have to face the […]
December 7, 2013 @ 5:52 pm
Thank you for this post.
December 9, 2013 @ 5:38 pm
Beautifully written! After 30 years of marriage, I must acknowledge that my wife is my best friend and I cannot envision life without her…if we are all truly honest about our marriages, the better outweighs the worse.
December 11, 2013 @ 2:28 am
This article is so good, I like this blog, Thank you very much for sharing
December 11, 2013 @ 5:47 pm
Reblogged this on blue_muse.
December 12, 2013 @ 12:18 pm
Amazing honesty. Thanks, it was a great read and nice to be able to get into my wife’s head a little bit.
December 15, 2013 @ 3:32 pm
Thank you for your beautiful post! I read this for the first time on my 21-year anniversary. My son later that day had to go to the ER for a suspected appendicitis. I cried the first time I read your story and every time since. It’s so hard to accept all the struggles and sometimes I want to walk away too. My husband also had the same back surgery yours had; we also have a son with autism. And I have so much fear, for many years, which turns into anger, and I never put it together that they were somehow linked. To understand my feelings – what is it that makes me do or say something – it’s my biggest challenge. Again, many thanks for your article and I wish you and your family all the best:)
January 3, 2014 @ 7:25 pm
This piece really resonated with me for a number of reasons. I have been in that space, waiting for my husband to come out of surgery. Rich has had a laminectomy ( disc removal from his neck), a brain tumour de-bulked and spinal fusion. The stress on a marriage is intense. I stay because I choose to stay. We didn’t choose this ill health either. Every day he is in incredible pain, an this impacts our family day, yet this was not his choice or mine. I stay, and we battle on, knowing that deep down we love and respect each other and want to be together. He is the father of my children and the only one I have ever trusted was strong enough to make me feel safe when life was getting on top of me. I focus every day on the fact that the pain and the restrictions are just part not the whole. Best wishes to you and your family.
One Blogger’s Incredibly Honest (And Beautiful) Take On Marriage | Lipstick & Politics
February 7, 2014 @ 12:00 am
[…] this recent post, blogger Carrie Cariello, mother of five children, one of whom is autistic, describes in an […]
The Things I Know Because of Autism | Carrie Cariello
January 26, 2015 @ 11:30 am
[…] have watched my husband grieve the child he expected to have—the boy who would wave to him from the school bus and play […]