Marriage Diaries: The Weight of Our Vows

I hope you’ll give a warm welcome to Cari from Dugans in Cahoots today! I first came across her blog through a post that lit social media up: We can’t be friends. Since then, I’ve been touched by many others she has written (especially this one), and I’m so happy to have her be a part of the Marriage Diaries!

For better or worse
In sickness and health
For richer or poorer
In good times and bad…

As a young bride, walking down the aisle, the only person I saw was Michael. I was so excited to begin our life together. I knew he was the one I wanted to be with. The one I wanted to love until I was old and grey. Without a doubt I was certain that our life would be wonderful together.

And it has been. Truly. However, I was completely naive to the realities of life that could potentially shake even the strongest of marriages. Did I really ponder what our vows to each other REALLY meant before our wedding day? Maybe, but I couldn’t possibly understand the weight of them.

Our first months married were spent in a small but cute basement apartment. For gas and food all we had was $80 a week. We had nothing but we had each other. I still look back at that time in our life as a time when life was beautiful. Life was rich. We were young, a little bit reckless and very happy. For Michael, though, it was a hard year. He wanted to provide well, and it was difficult for him not to have consistent work. He knew that my admiration, love and respect for him wasn’t dependent on the number displayed on his paycheck, but he still cared. I can’t remember how many times we over drafted our bank account back then. But I do remember evenings laying on the back porch looking at the stars, rice and beans eaten by candle light and many afternoons wasted at Starbucks playing UNO. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to be Mrs. Dugan. I still feel that way. Whenever money gets tight now, I think to myself, we survived it then, and we will again.

…for richer or poorer

Nine months after we were married, we found out we were pregnant with our Bella. What should have been a happy time was dimmed by the fact that I was incredibly sick. I couldn’t eat. All I wanted to do was sleep. It was extremely difficult to complete even the smallest of tasks. I lost so much weight that it was ghastly. It was not how I imagined pregnancy to be like. Eventually the sickness subsided but throughout that whole time Michael was my rock . He came to every one of my prenatal appointments . He cooked for me. Cleaned for me. Held my hair back as I vomited for the millionth time and held me as I cried. As each of my pregnancies turned out to be much worse than the last, he was there. With my youngest daughter I was so sick that I was in and out of the hospital. I felt like I was wasting away. Eventually the hospital gave me a continuous iv and medicine that I could self administer at home . He loved me throughout that entire time. There were days where I didn’t have energy to dress myself or even brush my hair. He did all those things and more for me. I always knew Michael loved me but it was during that time that his love was made concrete. I could visibly see it. I could feel it in a way that I couldn’t before.

…in sickness and in health

I often say that Michael and I grew up together. We were so young. We barely even knew each other, at least not the way we do today, twelve years later. Those years in between have been filled with so much change, growth, transitions and life. You can imagine what these walls would whisper about us if they could. We have had our share of slammed doors and angry words. Words that I want to erase but can’t. Michael has seen me at my very worst. My angriest. He has witnessed my most selfish and unloving of sides. But if you asked him he would say that he loves me more today than he has ever before. How? I believe him, but it still intrigues me every time he says that. I never thought it was truly possible to know a person so completely, so intimately but still love them despite their short comings. But then again I shouldn’t be so surprised, Michael is far from perfect but I do love him on his best day and on his worse. Nothing can change how I feel for him.

…for better or for worse

Last fall we ran into some unexpected financial challenges. It was the kind of situation that snuck up and took us by surprise. Michael ( being amazing ) went and got a second job. Meaning he was now gone for 70-80 hours a week. He was exhausted. When he was home I was out shooting weddings and sessions. We hardly saw each other and mostly communicated through email and text messages. It was lonely and tiring. Through it all we managed to completely love each other. I took over all the yard work so he wouldn’t have any additional chores on his plate. He, rather than sleeping or relaxing the rare times he was home, made dinner and took over caring for the kids so I could work . We were on survival mode but the two of us ventured to lighten each other’s loads. I think it was then that I learned that it is possible to still love even when we are on the brink of ourselves. Because we were committed to serving each other.

…in good times and bad

I know now that my love for Michael will be tested. Again and again and again. Some seasons more than others. But I am no longer surprised when it happens. Those vows that were said so many years ago have become real to us over the years. I hold onto them as dearly as I hold on to my marriage, to my family, to my Michael.

For better or worse
In sickness and health
For richer or poorer
In good times and bad…

Cari Dugan is a lifestyle photographer and writer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She writes candidly about everyday life and experiences of being a wife and a mother on her blog Dugans in Cahoots. Her husband, three children, and chocolate lab make life what it is—A Beautiful Mess. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Linked up with the Pin-It Party, Works for Me Wednesdayand Grace at Home

  • Ashley
    April 9, 2014 at 9:13 am

    This is so beautiful! It’s fun to look at each of these and think, yes, we’ve been there too!

    • Cari Dugan
      April 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Slammed doors at your house too? 😉 Marriage is hard and messy, but it is also wonderful and beautiful. -xo

  • Patricia
    April 9, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Thanks for sharing your life and experiences….You say it so well! Love you

    • Cari Dugan
      April 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Pati! I love you too, wish you were closer sister so we could share in the day to day.

  • Jules
    April 9, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Hi Erica- I found your blog recently and just wanted to say I’m so happy you’re doing another round of the marriage diaries. I love them. Marriage is the best and I love reading these stories. And I clicked those links to Cari’s blog and loved them. I can’t wait to head over and read more. Thanks for sharing Cari!

    • Cari Dugan
      April 9, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Thank you for Reading Jules! I am also happy Erica is doing this series. Can’t wait to read from other authors.

  • Katie @ Wonderfully Made
    April 9, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Cari, this post is just beautiful. I love how you wove the vows into your story and the love you and your husband share through it all!

    • Cari Dugan
      April 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      Thanks Katie. It was good for me to write. Tears came as I was reflecting over the past ten years. 🙂

  • Heather
    April 10, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Such a touching story of your marriage. I think we only went through one brief financial dip when DH’s company liquidated and he got anther job within a month, so it wasn’t that bad. His mom helped us. About our second year we hit a rough patch when there was a flirty girl in his office. Come to think of it, it was the same time the liquidation thing was about to happen so it was a rough time. We have been married for ten years but we weren’t spring chickens when we got together either. Then we also had five years of infertility to contend with too before we had Nicky. It’s good to look back and appreciate the good times and the bad, life is all about balance.

  • Emily Smith // The Best of this Life
    April 12, 2014 at 11:04 am

    What a beautiful read on this Saturday afternoon! Hubby is at work, putting in extra hours and my two kids are FINALLY napping and this is just the sort of thing that makes me breathe and say, “Yep, we are doing it – it’s messy, but wonderful”. My husband carried me through hypermesis gravidarum as well (horrific pregnancy sickness, Ivs, meds, hospital) – I didn’t think I could or would get to the other side, but he was there every step of the way. Thanks for sharing your story!

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