Anniversary Survival Guide

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Never in a million years did I think my wedding anniversary would be a day marked by sadness. Joy, love, commitment, growth, reflection, celebration maybe, but never sadness. No one says their vows in hopes of five years from their wedding day no longer being together. A completely foolish and ridiculous thought, I know. Thankfully, it’s safe to say, the majority of people enter their vows with a lifetime in mind. That’s why divorce is so difficult. You never plan on the death do us part commitment changing. It’s just not part of the plan. Making the backing out of the commitment so painful.

My ex and I spent just as many anniversaries together as we did apart. Our 3rd anniversary we were pretty freshly separated. At this point, I was NOT giving up on my marriage. I assumed this was one of those “bad times” in the good times and bad. The morning of that anniversary I went to mass at the church where we got married with our daughter and my ex-husband showed up as well. After the mass, a priest talked to us, commenting on our beautiful family and how in love we looked. Very strange how people’s lives look one way on the surface. It was a sweet time for our family though. This was shortly before his brief comeback to our marriage, so it’s possible this was part of his testing the waters. Later in the day, he gave me a card and flowers (doubtful his girlfriend knew). And that night I went out with my closest friends, sisters and mother-in-law. When you’re separated and not celebrating your anniversary with your spouse, you sure as hell deserve to celebrate it with all of the close ladyfriends in your life!

In looking through my old journals and writing from this time I recently found a note I wanted to write to the other woman on this anniversary that we spent apart. I never ended up sending it, but the words show where my heart was at the time: “Anniversaries between a husband and wife are meant to not only celebrate their love, but their commitment to one another. This year I will fight for that love and commitment. I will fight for my marriage and my beautiful family. I hope one day you find a man, who’s not already married, to share that love and commitment with.” On our 3rd anniversary, my hope was for our marriage to be restored.

The next two anniversaries to follow we had already filed for divorce. My ex-husband was back to living with his girlfriend, and my fight had a bit less oomph to it. The date stung, but I didn’t feel that same drive to make the marriage work. I felt more bitterness than anything. Actually, the card I got him on our 4th anniversary just said QUITTER on the front (you really can find anything on Etsy). I spent these days sad, surrounded by friends and family, and in prayer for my future.

And now this year, I heard the date and thought, oh yeah. Ugh. It stung much less. It may always be a trigger day for me and one that’s hard to forget. The date this year I was reminded of God’s protection. I had a peaceful morning at mass that was centered around God’s protection over his flock and the image of Him wiping away our tears. God protected me from a marriage that would have destroyed my value and wiped tears upon tears. Even on a day with less sting, God was so gracious with me. I was reminded God has been with me the entire time. He was there when I said my vows and He was there six years later as my steadfast protector. 

Ultimately, this day that is hard to forget, brought me my daughter. As you’ve heard me say before, she is my brightest of all silver lining. If you have children from a broken marriage, focus on the gift of your little ones. The day marked by your union is what brought you those sweet littles. If you’re still married, but separated on your anniversary, this may just be an off year. Don’t give up hope! Some marriages last up to 60 years. A few bad ones and 55+ good ones is not too shabby. Spend time reflecting on what you or your spouse can do to make next year an anniversary really worth celebrating. If you’re separated, going through a divorce, or freshly divorced, spend time in prayer and surrounded by people who care for you. Do whatever it takes to get through the day, remembering tomorrow is a new one. Pray for what God wants for your heart and your future. Meditate on one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

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