It’s safe to say that at this point in my life, I know a thing or two about love.
For the last 13 years, my work as a journalist has been primarily focused on writing about dating, marriage and the pursuit of healthy relationships for women. I absolutely love what I do. I get to talk to experts and therapists regularly about how to improve the bonds that matter and politely pry into couples’ relationships in order to seek out and highlight their most-noteworthy achievements and epiphanies. I take great care in writing about these special moments—big or small, heartwarming or heartbreaking—that shape and define a love story. When I write about love, I do it through the lens of the lessons learned by the couple and the takeaways for everyone reading.
I haven’t been counting, but if I had to guess, I’d say I’ve interviewed and written about more than 400 couples, most of whom are married, about their unique relationship journeys. Until recently, no one had ever interviewed me about my own marriage or asked my husband and I the kinds of tough questions that rarely have quick or easy answers. Then I met NYTimes freelance writer Alix Strauss who pens the publication’s wildly popular It’s No Secret column, and we got to talking about the trials and tribulations of love. We discussed how I met my husband, what he and I had been through since tying the knot in 2010 and why we’d chosen to suddenly renew our vows in August 2019, a year earlier than our original 10-year goal. She asked if we’d share our story for her column. We took some time to discuss and then ultimately agreed. If I could coax countless other couples into trusting me with sharing their truths for the greater good, I thought, then why shouldn’t I be able to do the same? So we went for it, and we didn’t hold back on the raw honesty.
In January, when the column ran, for the first time, our friends and family and a world full of complete strangers reading the Sunday Times, learned that, 16 years after the day we first me, my husband and I are silent fighters who, despite some bumps and hurdles along the road, are still very much in love and stronger together because of what we’ve overcome.
When you exchange vows on your wedding day, of course you mean those words, but at that moment in time you have no idea how you will have to apply them and when and how they will be tested. We couldn’t have known that my husband losing his brother and best friend just four months apart would take him to his lowest point or that he would have trouble finding his way back from there. I couldn’t fathom then that I would be the one to have to shine the light toward the way for us to go forward because the light in his eyes would temporarily go out. I spoke about the power of fighting for your partner when they can no longer fend for themselves. I shared that patience and empathy for him got me through the moments I thought we couldn’t ever get back from.
Before our interviews with The Times, we agreed to move forward with our entire truth, no edits. Now, after reading the heartfelt responses we’ve received (and are still receiving) from so many strangers, I’m confident it was the right decision and the right time to share. We helped people who have found themselves on an unwanted romantic detour and need faith that there is a new and better course. I’ve received the most beautiful thank you letters from women who’ve been where I have—praying for their partners more than they pray for themselves and chosen joy even when it seemed like the least possible option. “I was considering divorce but now I realize it’s just a rough spot, it’s not the end,” wrote one woman from across the country. “You two are living proof that love can still be pure and beautiful, even after something awful,” said another. The letters and messages just keep coming. I cry and smile as I take in the sentiments from each of them. I’m so grateful that being real about our love could affect other’s realities in a meaningful way. After reading the article, a woman who realized she frequents the place where my husband works, actually came there just to meet him in person and to congratulate us both on our success. She waited almost an hour to see him. Wow. Our testimony was that powerful. We had no idea it would but, but we’re so thankful.
Good love vibes are contagious, I believe. When we share our truths and lessons learned, they can catch fire in others and possibly even get them over their own relationship roadblocks. Even in a world filled with perfect filters and captions, we must still allow room for our real lives and experiences and how they shape who we become together and apart.
The next time someone asks you “how things are going” with your relationship. Please don’t sugar coat your answers—that’s not helping you or them. Open up a little, then watch what happens next.