Newlyweds in a time of pandemic

It rained on our wedding day.

For exactly 30 minutes, during our outdoor ceremony, the otherwise sunny, warm day turned gray, dropping rain on us and our guests.

It was the only time it rained all weekend. As soon as we began our walk back down the aisle, the sun re-emerged. We posed for photos, made our grand reception entrance and drank and danced with our families and friends, creating memories I will cherish forever.

Who would have thought, six months into our marriage, that we would be plunged into a slow moving and confusing time in history; a global pandemic, economic depression and civil unrest?

Of course, our relationship has not been all rainbows and clear skies. When we first moved in together, we lived in the worlds tiniest apartment. We worked hard to move up in the world to a house and a reliable car, a savings account and better credit. We experienced deaths, injuries, a miscarriage, and so many other things that can go wrong.

And of course, the biggest challenge of them all; my husband Joshua coming into an established bond between mom and son, inserting himself as the father figure and taking on the role of stepdad. Step-parenting is never an easy task. But from day one he stepped up to the plate and never backed down, even during the hard times.

The groom and the junior groomsman, getting ready on the big day. Photo by Melissa Mullen Photography

A few weeks ago, to make room in our freezer to stock up on meat following news of possible shortages, I reluctantly removed our frozen wedding cake top. As per tradition, it was being saved to eat on our one year anniversary, September 28, 2020. To our dismay, the wrapping had come undone and the cake was no good. It was with great sadness that I dumped the cake in the garbage.

There goes our cake. There goes our year. In the trash.

We had a nice little plan, but now just uncertainty. We had been working so hard, and shopping for land to build a house was on the horizon. Now, we are watching our savings dry up and our plan fades into the distance.

This was supposed to be our year.

We were supposed to be getting out of debt and taking our first steps toward home ownership.

We were supposed to take a late honeymoon, to make up for time we didn’t take after the wedding.

We were supposed to drive across the country to visit family and see our great country.

We were supposed to take dancing lessons, bring my son to his first concert, and do a mud run this summer (finally).

We were supposed to be discussing the possibility of more children.

It was all put on hold…because of a virus. We are newlyweds in the time of pandemic.

It’s been 3 months since Joshua came home from the gym and I was sitting upright in bed, eyes glued to the TV and terrified. The NBA had just cancelled their season. Tom Hanks had just announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 and Trump was announcing the travel ban from Europe.

We both lay awake for hours, huddled together in our bed, talking. Worrying. Speculating. Trying to plan what to do next, or what may happen next. We had been watching the virus unfold in other countries. We saw the lockdowns in Wuhan and the terrifying videos from Italy. We couldn’t wrap our minds around these things happening here.

A few days later, schools shut down and our lives completely changed.

The weeks have crawled by since then. Yet it seems like only last night that we sat on the back steps after my son had gone to bed, leaning against eachother in the cold, speaking our fears in low voices. There was such a heavy feeling in the air.

I sobbed, rambling through every worst-case scenarios that could occur over the next several months or years. Joshua is asthmatic and considered high risk, and I was terrified of him going to work. I felt as though the entire world was falling apart.

Joshua held my hand and remained stoic, steady as always. He is the rock in this relationship, a fact that is more clear now than ever.

This time last year, our wedding plans were in full gear and I was losing my mind (but oh, to go back to being stressed about the tablecloths not perfectly matching the napkins). I had quite a few meltdowns. One time, I cried in the middle of dinner at Applebees because there was a 10% chance of rain in the forecast for our day.

On the big day, when it rained, the first thing I said to him when I met him on the alter was “I told you so”.

Instead of leaving me at the altar for such a greeting, he smiled, tenderly burshing a rogue curl from my face. He took my hands and the love in his eyes made the rest of the world fade away.

Photo by Melissa Mullen Photography

This. This calming presence. This is one of the main reasons I love him. No one else on Earth has ever been able to ground me in that way.

I don’t know what I would do without him.

Merging two lives into one as newly married couples do, especially when one of them is bringing a child into the marriage, is already difficult. Adjusting to life as a blended family while also learning to navigate this new world of social distancing and endless breaking news is beyond challenging.

It’s been a long three months. There have been some great moments of bonding and fun, but also days of fighting and bitterness as a family. I struggled hard with adjusting to being an unemployed homeschooling housewife. I swung wildly between meditating on the silver linings and lamenting my terrible luck.

But my wonderful husband, a blue collar worker, put on his boots and went to work. During the first several weeks of quarantine, he “volunteered as tribute” as we jokingly referred to his store runs. He literally brought home the bacon, and the toilet paper when he could find it.

The whole routine of his coming home was so stressful and time consuming – no one hug, no one kiss, straight to the shower. While he washed away his long day, I would grab his clothes and run them to the washing machine, then go wipe down bags of groceries.

Today, I venture out a bit more and work a little, but my husband truly is the backbone of providing for our family. He gets up, kisses me goodbye while I am still tucked in bed, labors from sunrise to sunset, comes home in time to eat, sleep and go again. He has little time for himself, and the time he does have for himself is spent with us, playing with my son, giving me breaks, and helping me with things around the house.

Through it all, I constantly remind myself how lucky I am. I am a roller coaster of a mess and Joshua is there through all of it, even when his stoicism gets to me and I hassle him for not showing his emotions more, or not communicating enough. His quiet exterior can get to me sometimes. I’m working on that.

But that right there, is marriage. It’s recognizing flaws and strengths in each other and working together to overcome them and move forward in understanding and unconditional love.

It’s also parenting, but that’s a whole other story.

Living through a defining year in history has been an interesting experience, to say the least. The whole world is experiencing crisis fatigue and a collective depression.

This whole experience has really sealed our marriage and our family into this tight little box of comfort, security, and support. We have our clashes, don’t get me wrong. But we get through him, and I feel so blessed to be given a partner that takes on life the way he does.

It rained on our wedding day. And it turned out amazing.

Photo by Melissa Mullen Photography

I’m not saying that anything about this pandemic is amazing. But it has taught us so many lessons and forced us to slow down and be nothing but present for each other. It has forced me to be dependant on someone else, something I am never comfortable with.

I admire my husband. His work ethic, his loyalty and his urge to take care of us means everything to me. If I have to live through a global pandemic and the most chaotic year of my life, I am glad I am doing it with him.

Photo by Melissa Mullen Photography

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