When I said my wedding vows, the words flowed off my tongue with ease. I had handwritten those words and now I knew them by heart. They were the essence of every feeling I had for my husband. We promised to love each other on the bright sun-filled days and we vowed to hold each other through the rocky, turbulent thunderstorms.
We didn’t know the storm we would face in our first year of marriage. After our wedding day, we woke up bright and early and packed up our car to set off on our two-week honeymoon to Charleston, South Carolina.
As fast as the wedding had come and gone, so did our stay in old southern romance. We packed and arrived home where we were immediately thrown back into the reality called normal marital life. Our upstairs bathroom toilet flooded while we’re away due to a small leak we didn’t know existed. Over the two weeks we were away, the leak busted causing water to flood through the ceiling of our kitchen. It flowed into our stove and microwave while we were away. We returned from champagne and strawberries to toilet water standing in our kitchen appliances.
I knew before we were married – somewhere between year seven of our courtship – that I wanted to marry him and start a family right away. We had dated nine years before we were married, and we had lived together for almost all of those years. The only time we didn’t live together was during the first six months of our courtship. Although I had only just entered my 30’s, I struggled to become pregnant. Every month after our honeymoon, I sat in our bathroom crying silently at negative pregnancy tests.
My husband, a man who wasn’t sure if he even wanted a marriage, had even bigger doubts if he was ready to start a family. As I became more depressed over not conceiving our child, he finally agreed to adopt a dog nine months after our wedding.
The dog ended up being the largest German Shepherd puppy I could find. He destroyed our house, biting and chewing constantly. He didn’t have enough room in our two-storey home or our yard to run and let his energy out. I tried walking him every day, but it never seemed to be enough to tire him out.
But I did successfully potty train him, and I took the rapidly growing, lanky pup to training classes. All throughout this, I fought a husband who never liked dogs. Ironically, we even fought like cats and dogs. I spent three months in the first of year of my marriage arguing about a puppy. The puppy symbolized the child I wasn’t able to conceive at the time. He allowed me a purpose to nurture and take care of something other than myself. I felt needed.
My husband came to see the puppy as a burden. He argued how a dog of its size should never be a house pet. Disagreements turned into arguments. Arguments turned into a week of not speaking. I knew a storm was brewing, and I didn’t want to lose my marriage over a puppy.
Three months later, I put an ad in the local newspaper for a ‘Free German Shepherd.’ Within a day, I met with a retired man and his wife. They loaded up my puppy and gave him the home he deserved, complete with a large fenced in yard.
The night they drove away, I sat in my kitchen floor sobbing. I knew I had done the right thing by giving the dog to the person he was ultimately meant to be with, but I was left with nothing. My marriage couldn’t even survive a puppy. My thoughts became a swirling destruction centering on how I’d never be able to have a child since we couldn’t agree on how to raise a dog.
I dipped down into my lowest depression. For almost a month after giving the puppy away, I would come straight home from work and crawl immediately into bed. Some nights I cried, other nights I just stared at the wall and prayed. Many nights, my prayers were just angry words yelled at my God.
It was a lesson that life is always building up to the next series of events. During my first year of marriage, I had expected pregnancy to come naturally. When it didn’t, I expected adopting a dog would be easy. It wasn’t. The only thing that had happened easily with the dog was finding the owner he was meant to share his life with. I hashed out that sometimes in life we are only go-betweens, serving as a connection.
Then everything in our lives changed. A month after I let my puppy go to his rightful home, I became pregnant with our first and only child. My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary at a steakhouse two weeks after finding out we were finally expecting. I polished off 20 ounces of prime rib, which ultimately became my pregnancy craving for the next eight months.
I’ve always been ashamed that a puppy almost destroyed my marriage in its first year, but he wasn’t meant for our home. As the puppy found his home, we welcomed a little boy into our home. We became a family, with two cats. And we love through the good and messy days.
Header Image: Brooke Cagle