This year for Valentine’s Day, Allen and I decided we wanted to share about the darkest time in our marriage.
“WHY?? IT’S VALENTINE’S DAY!!”
Yup, that’s exactly why.
There’s so much emphasis on finding the perfect gift, on incredible romantic gestures, sex, and hearts. LOTS OF HEARTS. We wanted to open up about our relationship because we know that it will help many of you who are going through the darkest time now. Many of you are not feeling like celebrating this corporate holiday. I know because I was once there!
We’re not offering a solution but merely our own account of what happened to us in the last few years, what we wish had happened and the changes we made to make it better for us today. We’re not hoping you feel and do the same things we did but know that you and your partner are not alone and that relationship brokenness is very real and not very often talked about so here we are! We came up with 10 questions for each other, answered them separately and pasted it together below. It’s not the most elegantly written because it just comes from off the cuff. We did it this way because we think it’s important to show both sides. Many times, especially between men and women, needs and expectations are different. To identify that is key.
We only hope that this post will encourage you especially on this Valentine’s Day. xoxo – Laura & Allen
Written by Allen:
- What was your first impression of Laura?My first impression of Laura was, this girl exudes coolness with her walk and attitude, but also the leather jacket helps. Then when I found out she was into Marvel comics (this was all before the Marvel craze with their films), I was stunned and knew she was the one for me.
- What did the two of you enjoy doing the most? Was there a particular memory that you both shared that you will always cherish forever?We love watching films, whether it’s blockbuster films or arthouse films (made me watch Bicycle Thief and great film by the way), camping and visiting National Parks and experiencing beautiful landscapes. But what I remember most is our time together visiting Seattle and Olympic National Park for the first time. We got to share some of the most other worldly places together and immediately fell in love with the pacific northwest and Laura was the perfect person to share this experience with.
- When did marriage start getting difficult?Marriage started to get difficult when Casey our 2nd was born. It was constant baby duties while taking care of our first born and we really didn’t have time for each other. Laura also became busy with her work after going viral couple years before and me working all the time didn’t really help either.
- What do you feel contributed to that?Lack of intimacy was a huge contributor for me. I’m not talking about just sex, but the little things like giving me a hug, holding my arm or putting her hands on my back. When the touching stopped, I felt lonely and unimportant and most importantly I felt unloved. Also just talking to each other came to a halt and without proper communication, it was hard to feel out what one was thinking. In Laura’s case she was always stressed and anxious from work, plus the constant breast feeding, and taking care of the kids did not help at all and because of her mood swings, I felt like I was walking on eggshells. I just didn’t want to talk to her anymore because anything I say could cause her to yell and get angry and it felt like I was living with a ticking time bomb. This kind of sounds like it was all Laura’s fault and you’re probably thinking what was I doing through all of this to make her feel this way, and you are right to think that because there was so much more I could’ve done to make this situation better, but regardless, these were the emotions I was feeling at the time and I knew it was creating a huge distance between us.
- What hurt you the most during that time?What hurt me the most at the time was when Laura and I got into a verbal fight while I was holding Casey. As I started to yell back, Laura grabbed a hold of Casey from my arms and told me to get out of the house, but what hurt me more was the look in her eyes that said “you are an unworthy husband and father”. I felt immediate anger, sadness, but at the end of it all, I only felt hopelessness and the feeling of wanting to just give up.
- What do you think was the problem?The problem was we could’ve said and done things differently to not hurt each other and definitely spend more time together away from the kids, but ultimately both of us were not intimate with our heavenly Father. Our relationship with Him was at an all time low and what we really needed was the community of our church and their prayers. Aside from our lack of spiritual relationship, we really needed to spend time together away from the kids, but also spend time with our own friends and just recharge.
- What did you want the most to change? What had to change for the marriage to get better?We needed more date nights together and I needed to see my friends more often, or go out to the theater and watch a movie.
- Do you see a change in Laura since the new changes? In yourself? In how parenting is?Yes, we were seeing a lot of changes starting with prayer and counseling from our church community. We decided to also take every other Friday for date night and the other Fridays for prayer night at our church, especially after my parents told me they were willing to watch the kids every Friday. This really helped us revitalize our relationship with one another and we just started to have fun and relax like the time before our marriage. I could see that Laura was much happier and if she’s happy, then I’m happy. Bettering our relationship also helped with parenting because it can truly be difficult to show and give love to another if you’ve got no love to give.
- What is your recent favorite memory with Laura?My recent favorite memory with Laura was getting a couples massage together and grabbing a good bite to eat after. Can’t get any better than relaxing and eating good food with my life partner.
- What is it that you want Joey and Casey to always remember about you and Laura?I want Joey and Casey to remember that their Mom and Dad always cared for each other and loved one another with all they had. I want my girls to remember what a healthy and loving couple looks like and that they too deserve that kind of relationship with their life partner.
Written by Laura:
- What was your first impression of Allen?Allen looked like he came straight out of Korea. He had KPOP style hair from the early 2000s. If you don’t know what that looks like, pretty much his hair looked like John Rzeznik’s from the Goo Goo Dolls except nowhere near as cool haha. Just kidding. Allen was just not “my type” so I quickly dismissed him as just another guy. It seemed pretty clear to me in the beginning that we were nothing alike. It wasn’t until we started getting to know each other that we realized we had so much in common.
- What did the two of you enjoy doing the most? Was there a particular memory that you both shared that you will always cherish forever?We loved traveling together. After we got married, we made it a goal to travel as much as we could afford. We weren’t even sure we wanted to try to have children but even still, we just wanted to see as much of the world together. I have so many amazing fond memories traveling with Allen. I think the one that tops it all for me is when we lived in Seattle for a few months while he was on clinical rotations at school. Living somewhere outside of our hometown together and discovering new experiences and memories together was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Those few months really set the tone for me in our marriage. I wanted to spend the rest of my life experiencing new and original memories with Allen. It was the first time I truly felt like we were leading a new life together as a married couple. It was like heaven to me.
- When did marriage start getting difficult?To be honest, it really just snuck up on us. It’s a very long story that I won’t go into detail here but to sum it up for me, the marriage started becoming difficult after we unexpectedly went viral all over the world soon after Joey was born. It was one of the darkest periods of my life. I was trying to figure out motherhood for the first time while living under the world’s constant and often times not-so-merciful scrutiny. It was two years of ups and downs emotionally for me to say the least. Fast forward a couple years later and it took a turn for the worse a few months after Casey was born. I was a hormonal and emotional wreck. The previous 2 years had been, in what I can say now, very traumatic to me and I had held it all in. Allen and I had never truly talked about what happened those 2 years, how it affected both me and him. I was overwhelmed beyond measure, feeling so distant from my community and friends, while also traumatized by the constant judgment around me as I was still trying to figure out how to be a mom. (Did I mention I received almost daily hate mail and a few death/kidnapping threats during those 2 years??) Allen was still focused on building his career and so I tried to do all that I could on my own. When I needed him, he was unavailable for the most part, so I learned to “figure it out” on my own. Side note to the married couples reading this: please don’t ever do that. It nearly broke us. Eventually we started fighting because I got bitter and I would say the most hurtful things to him. I would throw out the word, “divorce” here and there to see how he would react. He was always just silent, which to me meant he either agreed or didn’t care enough to do something about it. I couldn’t stand being around him and I know some of it had to do with my hormones going crazy but most of it had to do with built up resentment over the past few years. I started to believe that divorce could happen to us and that our lives could possibly be better had we separated. It was the darkest time of our marriage because we were so confused by our emotions in anger and bitterness that we weren’t even sure if we still loved each other. We stopped talking to each other. Intimacy was for sure off the table and we never expressed to each other that we loved each other.
- What do you feel contributed to that?It was a lack of communication. It was the disconnect that came after the lack of communication. It was so many little things that were ignored. Sarcastic and hurtful comments. Silence. No follow-up. Lack of intimacy. Lack of intentional and quality time together. Having TWO kids! But it all began from the lack of communication. And it also wasn’t all on him. We no longer saw our friends because we were so caught up in the chaos of parent-life so it was incredibly draining.
- What hurt you the most during that time?I was so hurt that Allen wasn’t available to me as my husband. He seemed to me just like a roommate who just lived with us and helped me watch the kids. I felt so alone. Uncared for.
- What do you think was the problem?I was hurt that he didn’t make the effort to do more to check in with me and my emotions. He knew that I was going through so much but he let me go through it alone. I think what would’ve helped was to just spend more intentional time together. We forgot what it was like to be with each other, just enjoying each other.
- What did you want the most to change? What had to change for the marriage to get better?I wanted more quality time with him. I wanted to be able to express to him what I was going through and for him to love on me back. I wanted it to go back to where we were before we had kids, when we were so in sync with our feelings about each other. Allen had to let go of his pride and I had to let go of my expectations and bitterness. We also had to make time for ourselves in self-care. That was in the form of alone-time and time with friends.
- Do you see a change in Allen since the new changes? In yourself? In how parenting is?Yes, Allen is happier and less stressed now. (Sorry Allen for putting you through that before haha!) He makes it priority to spend quality alone time with me now and quality time with the girls. That means everything to me. He is more tender towards me and because of that, I’ve become more tender towards him. I still need more work but it’s getting better, I swear. 😉Parenting is always going to be hard but it’s a lot easier now knowing that I’m not alone in this marriage.
- What is your recent favorite memory with Allen?It’s hard to choose because I don’t have just a favorite one. They’re all favorites. When he holds my hand. When he looks at me and just smiles. Just being home with him and the girls together is enough for me.
- What is it that you want Joey and Casey to always remember about you and Allen?I want the girls to know how their parents took care of their marriage. I want them to know that we made the time and investments to self-care, friendship-care and marriage-care so that they can follow that model when they are older.