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      Get Smart on the Web   09/16/2016

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happy anniversary, to my awesome husband!

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yeah, i know... mark never comes here anymore. but i wanted to shout from the mountaintops how awesome this anniversary is for us. but to do that, i have to get there in a round about way, so it's also a testimony of the struggles we've been through.

yes, it's new year's day... and 15 years ago, THIS is the day we chose to get married. as much as i wanted to marry sooner, i had been a single mom for ten years, and i really wasn't quite ready to give up that 3 grand EIC tax credit. so on 1/1/99, mark and i began our lives together as husband and wife.

i know many people here wonder just what it must be like to spend that many years with the love of your life. well, let me tell ya, it has been a bed of roses, complete with many, many thorns. living with and sharing a home with a cousin is not really any different than spending a life and home with any other person someone chooses to commit to. i know that comes as a shock to so many, who have decided that their marriage to a non-cousin has ended in such dissatisfaction that SURELY, if they could just rid themselves of the ball and chain and marry their cousin instead, life would be just perfect. well, that's delusional thinking, and the kind of expectations that will destroy a marriage.... not only the marriage that one may already be in, but any potential marriage one might enter into with their cousin later.

truth is, my cousin, my husband, the love of my life, is just a man. he's just as human as any other guy on the planet, and like all humans, he comes with flaws. but hey, so do i! when we first got together all those years ago, we would often remind each other not to put each other on a pedestal.... because sooner or later, we all get our pedestal knocked out from under us, and it can be a very painful fall. mark never "completed" me, nor i, him. we were complete in and of ourselves... so having each other in our lives didn't complete us, it only enhanced our life. that's very important. if your lover completes you, then you're going to have some nasty wounds when things start going south.

and trust me, things WILL go south. yep, even with your cousin.

and when they do, here's what i did to improve the situation. i gave it up to God.

not immediately. it took me years to finally figure out that to REALLY give it up to God, i had to get myself out of the way. and that was a bit difficult for me. because when things are spiraling out of control, it's our human nature to think it's all about us. i had this need, this urge, to FIX my husband. i'd pray for God to fix him, but then i'd try to micro-manage everything... as if God needed my help. haha, yeah right. and then one year i decided to give up something for lent. (you don't have to wait til lent to do this though!) it's the only time i ever observed lent in my life. and what i gave up was nagging.  i didn't just give it up, though. i replaced it. this took a lot of self discipline. but every time i wanted to open my mouth to say anything negative to him, or to anyone else about him, i'd stop myself, and instead i would ask God to bless my husband.

and after 40 days, my marriage had improved so much! not because HE had changed, but because I had changed. and when i changed, so did how he responded to me.

things still weren't perfect though. he still had some addictions to deal with, and i still had a lot of being ignored to deal with. but as i learned to have a life of my own, separate from managing his every move, God was working behind the scenes on my husband. i'd gotten pretty good (finally) at putting things in God's hands, and at one point i bravely had said "ok God, do whatever it takes to fix the broken places in him... no matter how it affects my life!" that's a really, really brave prayer... and i'd begun researching how to survive living homeless on the streets in preparation for God's answer to my prayer. 

it wasn't long after that that he came home one evening and said he'd lost his job, because of his addiction. i stood there in my kitchen scrubbing potatoes or something of the sort, and a feeling of total peace flooded over me. i looked at him and said "ok". he was stunned. he'd expected me to cry, yell, scream, hit him or something! he said "that's it? just ok?" and i leveled my gaze at him and said "yes, ok. God's got this." i gave him a brief hug and then went back to work in the kitchen.

things immediately started falling into place. with no job in vegas, and no job to go to in texas, mark was kinda forced into giving up his addiction. we started selling everything we owned. my brother was moving to alaska, and offered us his house for the same rent as what we were paying, which was way below market value for both locations. with no income to speak of, and no clue how we were going to pay for it, we started making preparations for a cross-country move. our landlord in vegas waived our last month's rent, my brother offered to waive our first month's rent in texas.

it is only by the grace of God that we were able to move. we sold everything we thought we could spare. a friend or relative would give us a little money as an unexpected gift. i was able to negotiate a moving truck down to about half the price that it originally was going to cost. some friends who were very skilled (professionally) at moving came and helped us pack and load the truck. we hooked up our old, beat up SUV behind the moving van, loaded up three cats in my car, one in the truck with my husband, and since we had dropped our cell phone services, we tried to stay within a two mile range of each other so that we could communicate with walkie talkies.

this is getting so long winded LOL. anyway, we made it back to texas... the home of both his family and mine. mark has never picked his addiction back up, and i still try hard not to pick up nagging, ever. 

my husband works his butt off for far less money than he ever made in vegas, and allows me to stay at home, enjoying the company of my 87 year old mother. she has several older sisters, the oldest of whom just turned 100 last month. we've lost two of her siblings in the last year, and are sadly anticipating losing at least two more this one... probably early in this one. i take her to see them as often as i can.

early last year, my oldest daughter was in a bind. for a month we brought her young children here to texas to stay with us while their mom and dad dealt with what they had to deal with. a couple of months after they went back to florida, my other daughter was going through a divorce, and she and her youngest son came to stay with us for six months. not only was i driving mom to and from (and at that time she had another sibling living out her last days), i was taking my daughter to two jobs nearly every day, taking her little boy to and from school.

mark was a rock through all of that. he steadfastly worked and allowed me the luxury of being a stay at home wife/daughter/mom/grandma... a very multi-faceted and demanding role. and now that things have slowed down and it's just me, him and mom here most of the time, he encourages me to stay home, read and make jewelry.

he may not live a life of faith that is visible to everyone he runs across every day, but i know that the last few years have really increased his faith and trust in God's provision. He gives God all the credit for having gotten us to where we are now, and taking care of our needs. He gives God the credit for breaking his addiction and keeping him on the right track. and i'm pretty sure he gives God the glory since he even gave up cigarettes last summer.

mark is my best friend. he is exactly the man i wanted to grow old with. he makes me laugh ALL the time. we have fun together, and when things aren't really 'fun', he pitches in and we work side by side to do what is necessary. he loves me, and it shows in everything he says and does.

we could have thrown in the towel so many times, and just given up on each other and walked away. there were times i wanted to. there were times HE wanted to. but we stuck it out. and now, after fifteen years, we can look back over our lives and think WOW... our love is so much stronger, because we climbed all those mountains (sometimes dragging each other by the hair, kicking and screaming) together.

i can't imagine my life without him. and i thank God for every moment we've had... the good, the bad, the ugly.... because from where i'm standing, it's all beautiful now.

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Thank you for sharing your story.  As I am beginning this journey with my cousin, it's good to hear a story of success - a real story, not some fairy tale version of true love.

Congratulations to you and Mark and may you  be blessed with many more years of happiness and laughter!

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Wow, that's a fantastic story Lady C.  You prayed to God, and He answered you by helping his plan fall into place.  And He gave you that peace that surpasses all understanding when Mark told you he lost his job.  You two are blessed and loved by God, and under His care!

Fantastic!  Praise God Almighty !!!  Still performing miracles centuries after the Bible was written :)


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Loved to read this real story of love, cousin love, that is.  Success in marriage takes A TON of work, any marriage, cousin or not!  I am glad to hear someone talk about the real side of things.  It ain't all butterflies and rainbows all of time... but that's kind of what makes the good parts so sweet, don't you think? 

Congrats on so many years together, and here's to many more.

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yep, and it's a reality check i've shared with few people over the years here. and even then, it was usually more alluded to than this. but it was a story i felt needed to be shared. mark had mixed feelings about my sharing, though! (he didn't tell me to take it down though, and he did ask once what kinds of responses i'd gotten from it.)

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Congratulations to you both! I know it hasn't always been a bed of roses, but things do get easier as time goes on( or so I'm learning ). I've been through some difficult time the past three years. It's been painful, but that is what makes you grow.

It's great to see God's hand in you life. Hey, in the end, we win. In the mean time, you never know what you will go through in this life. It is great to take time out. look back, and see where God has already brought us. It gives if faith that he will bring us the rest of the way!

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