I knew that if I was ever going to marry again my #1 dealbreaker was that I marry a man who shared my faith in Jesus Christ. I was first drawn to Mike when I heard him pray out loud during a meeting at our church's Divorce Care ministry. I remember feeling at home with his hand in mine and listening to his sweet southern drawl pray for guidance and for strength over all of us walking the difficult road of separation and divorce. His prayer was like a balm to my weathered and lonely soul.
Mike and I began dating during my separation from B. This angered some members of our church who believed that as long as I was not "legally" divorced from my husband I was not free to date or think about another man in a romantic way. A few even tried to have us formally removed from the church. After a meeting with our Pastor we were assured the few did not speak for the many and he urged us to join a couple's bible study held every Sunday after the service.
During this time Mike met my boys, Sam and Noah, and began learning more about them and about their diagnosis of autism. I had once been told that a woman should not introduce her children to a man until she has a ring on her finger. I suppose I could see the point in that thinking. Children become easily attached to others and it would be potentially hurtful to have them bond with a man you are dating if that relationship does not last. However, in my case I needed to know early on if my life with my boys was something Mike could handle and more importantly if it was something he was willing to commit to for the rest of his life.
We had a number of conversations during our first year together about the realities of autism. I wanted him to see what autism was and what it was not. Little did I know he would teach me a lot too. Mike has 2 sons of his own, ages 18 and 12, and at times when I was ripping my hair out over something my sons were doing he would assure me that their behavior was because they are boys and perhaps less about their diagnoses. It was reassuring to know that some of their antics are because they are normal. Normal, active, crazy-making, energetic BOYS!
So you may be asking yourself....What makes this marriage work? It is a million beautiful things that together equal what I always wanted but never thought I could have.
- We share a faith rooted in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior
- He makes me laugh everyday
- He is lighthearted and doesn't take life too seriously
- But he knows when to take me seriously
- He is a southern boy with the charm and chivalry to prove it
- When he makes a mistake he says "I'm sorry" and he means it
- His kisses make my head swoon
- His touch makes my heart quicken
- But his prayers bring me to the heart of God
- He loves the way I like to dote on him.
- He changes diapers.
- He cooks and cleans and does laundry
- He tells my boys he loves them when they leave for a weekend at their Dad's house
- He loves to take naps with me.
- He reads his bible and does his best to follow it.
- He doesn't gossip.
- He loves to watch movies and eat popcorn and have a picnic on the living room floor.
- He has a career but its what he does and not who he is.
- When I am with him I feel adored and completely loved for who I am right where I am.
- He could care less if I am skinny or plump, but he prefers plump.
- When he is mad he doesn't say things he will regret.
- He also doesn't storm out of the house and leave me feeling abandoned.
- He really listens to me and doesn't try to fix every little thing I talk about.
- But when he can fix something he does an expert job at it
- He's a big kid at heart.
- He likes to go to Toys R Us
- When I start a shopping list he will pick it up and buy everything on it.
- Including tampons!
- He plays Scrabble, Monopoly, and card games with me.
- He doesn't care if we have grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner
- He loves his Mama and respects his Father.
- He'll give you anything you need if he has the means or the item on hand.
Still, we realize that our marriage is not without some of the same stresses and concerns for my boys that I dealt with in my first marriage. The important difference is that we face them together as a couple. When either of us is feeling the strain we talk about it. Even when we disagree about something we don't use our words to hurt one another but instead we have learned to listen and to compromise when necessary.
Neither Mike or I know what the future will bring for my boys. We do not know if they will remain with us in our home until the day comes that one or both of us are too old to care for them ourselves, or if they will transition at some time to an adult group home, or if they will surpass all the odds and go on to attend college and live seemingly "normal" lives. But what we do know for sure is that we will face their futures together as both a couple and a family....albeit a more unique one than most.
Sunday can be found writing about her life, her 2 sons Sam and Noah, and her status as a second-time newlywed on her blog http://www.extremeparenthood.com