Love Strong: What 10 Years of Marriage Has Taught Me to Accept

marriagemarriageToday is our ten year wedding anniversary. I can't help but wonder where the time went…ten years goes by so quickly. Joseph and I married on a whim, without thinking about how marriage and kids would change us.

Then I got pregnant. Joseph was there with me at almost every appointment, he cried when we learned it was a boy, he never left my side during delivery and he was home with me the first four weeks of my maternity leave with our firstborn son Norrin. Becoming parents was a major moment in our marriage and it brought us closer together. We were truly partners.

Related: 7 things I wish I knew about men before I got married

And then Norrin was diagnosed with autism. Our entire lives were turned upside down. We changed our work schedules, we had therapists in and out of our home - five, six days a week. Family outings were scarce. Date nights became limited. But we are not a family to feel sorry for. It was our commitment and partnership that held us together. And we have so much to be grateful for and celebrate.

Being married isn't easy. Raising a child with autism hasn't made our marriage any easier. We fight. We struggle. We are under emotional and financial strain. But there is no other person in this world who understands how I feel about raising Norrin better than my husband. And I am grateful that we have each other to lean on.

We are different. And that's okay.

Joseph and I are complete opposites in many ways. He loves Star Trek and Dr. Who - I could care less. He listens to heavy metal while I prefer pop music. He washes his clothes without fabric softener and I can't imagine washing clothes without it. We have learned to accept and respect each other's differences.

We will go to bed angry.

Everyone loves to tell newlyweds: Don't go to bed angry. And while I understand why this tidbit of advice is always given, it's kind of tough to do. I've learned that marriage is HARD. And couples will fight and sometimes you will go to bed angry. (Sometimes you'll go to bed a few nights in a row angry.) But marriage is WORK. Every single day, we are working on our marriage. I am always reminding myself to listen and talk.

The couple that laughs together, stays together

I'll be the first to admit that many of our 'arguments' are dumb and sometimes they last longer than necessary. And it will get to the point where Joseph and I will just look at each other and burst out laughing. That's how I always know we will be okay. It's because we can still laugh together.

We are still a couple.

This is the thing so many couples with kids forget - they forget they're still a couple. After kids, it's so hard to keep the romance alive. Being a parent is stressful, demanding, exhausting, expensive. It's hard to be spontaneous and romantic. But we try to remember that we're still a couple - whether we're holding hands on the beach or in the supermarket. (It's usually at the supermarket.) We take the time to kiss each other hello, to hold hands, to say "I love you." And on that rare date night out, we try to talk about things unrelated to parenting or autism.

We will never be who we once were.

I look at this picture and I can't help but think how different we both were then. We were so young (okay, maybe not that young). We had no idea what was in store for us. We had no idea there would be disability or loss. Those aren't the things you think about when you start out your life with someone. Sure, we made vows to be true in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health but those words are so easy to say when you're young and in love. The true test comes later, in the midst of the bad and the sickness. I have accepted that we will never be this young couple again. And I'm not the least bit sad about it. Our love and devotion has grown into something so much better.

We are a family.

When Joseph and I first got married, having kids was the furthest thing from my mind. Being a mom has been an amazing experience and I am lucky to have such a wonderful partner like Joseph. We have fun as a family, we find so much joy in our day-to-day. It's not always easy, but there is no one else I'd rather walk this journey with. Being Norrin's parents has been the thing that has connected us for life. That connection is what I really love about our marriage.

-By Lisa Quinones-Fontanez

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