With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.
Though Ben and Erin have been through the unimaginable, they have come through the other side stronger. Two years into their marriage, a freak accident left Ben without the use of his arms and legs. Erin says, “I went from wife to caregiver in a matter of seconds and we have spent the past 5 years learning how to be husband and wife again.” Erin explains that at the time of the accident, she thought she and Ben were working as a team but quickly realized how much she leaned on him for everything. After the accident, she says, “I had to make sure the bills were paid, the medical decisions were made, the house was taken care of and our daughter was taken care of, too.”
“I remember sitting in the ER not knowing if my husband would live and thinking ‘would he want to stay on life support?’ I know the answer now, but I didn’t then, and it scared the hell out of me.” Ben and Erin offer this advice to married and engaged couples: “Have the difficult discussions early and often. They are important.”
In many ways, life has returned to a new normal. Erin and Ben each has the same job as before the accident and they are both studying for their Masters’ in health policy and management (they enjoy having heated discussions about health care!). And their five-year-old daughter, Isabel, has recently found a fun upside to Ben’s accident. Erin explains, “Ben’s chair can stand up so he’ll stand up – it’s amazing – and she’ll climb up it, then stand up and jump onto the couch. She also ties her bike or play car to him and he’ll pull her around outside. They do crazy things together!”
I asked Ben to tell me a story about their marriage, and he summed it up saying, “Our life is a story. After a freak injury left me a quadriplegic, the fact that my wife and I are still married shows that our love is unconditional and the partnership makes us stronger.”