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Thank you for 5 years.

Five years ago, we stood up in front of 200 people… God & our grandparents… and said “I Do”. We promised to be together forever, to stick it out in thick & thin. We knew people were betting against us. Heck, some of them had even TOLD us they didn’t think we’d make it. But we plunged ahead and did it anyway,  and we were convinced we’d prove them all wrong.

Five years ago today, we got married.

And not even 10 months later, we sat on the floor and cried and talked very seriously about giving up, because it wasn’t working.

That was reality for us. It wasn’t working. We’d bruised each other deeply, and we stopped trying to make it better. We were roommates, and not even amicable ones. We’d stopped dreaming about a future together, and just got by on our daily routine. We didn’t even have the energy to fight… nothing seemed worth it.

Not even a year after we said “forever”, we both admitted we were probably looking at the end.

So when people ask me about our wedding… about the significance of our 5th anniversary… it’s a little hard to talk about. Sure, we dressed up and got married and threw a party on April 19th, 2008. We’d already been together for 4 years, so getting married was the next thing to do. It was time, and we thought we were ready.

But the last weekend of January, in 2009, THAT’S when we made the promises that count.

We sat in that hotel room, and we cried, and we held each other’s hands, and we made some choices that needed to be made. We recommitted to each other… to this promise. We apologized, and asked for forgiveness. I wasn’t wearing a white dress, and nobody was there to see it… but those are the promises I remember most.

If we hadn’t gotten married on April 19th, 2008, we probably wouldn’t have gotten married at all. Without a doubt, that day will always be important to me. But if it weren’t for January 29th, 2009, we’d be a statistic… a failed marriage. I’m so glad I don’t have to know what my life would look like without you.

My love, on our 5th anniversary, THANK YOU.

I know I’m hard to live with. I’m hard to keep happy. I’m hard to please. I’m hard to understand. I’m hard to work with. To steal from one of our favorite songs, I am quite simply Hard to Love.

But you do it anyway. You do it loudly and fiercely and loyally and you never ever quit. I don’t deserve you, no matter how often you say it’s the other way around.

Thank you for April 19th, and thank you for January 29th. Thank you for forgiving me, and working with me, and believing in us. Thank you for choosing US over the voices of people that said we couldn’t make it. Thank you for 9 years together, for 5 years married, and for a little over four years of truly being IN THIS TOGETHER.

You’re the absolute love of my life, and no matter where this journey takes us, I’m glad it’s together.

  1. bobbileigh

    April 19th, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Happy Anniversary! Thank you so much for sharing this, we as a society don’t talk about our failures (or near failures) enough and then others that have gone through it or are going through it feel like they are in it alone and shouldn’t talk about it either. It is so refreshing to hear a story like this of a near failure, but then coming out on the other side of it better. This is applicable to all things in life not just marriage, so thank you.

  2. Margaret

    April 19th, 2013 at 6:42 am

    WOW Chelsea! This is very … brave… very lovely.
    Congratulations to you guys and God Bless from this side of the world!

  3. Loren Bell

    April 19th, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Hi. I’m ugly crying. You know, most people would have glossed over those parts between April 19 and January 29. Thank you for not doing that. Even the hard, ugly, mad parts of life are beautiful because they seem to make the great parts shine that much more brightly. Thank you for making that promise because your love inspires a whole bunch if people. Happy nine, five, and four years! <3

  4. Paige Ann

    April 19th, 2013 at 8:55 am

    This was so touching. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Happy Anniversary!!!

  5. Ashley

    April 19th, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I am sitting here like a goofball with tears in my eyes staring at my computer screen. That was amazing and you are some amazing people. Thank you for your complete honesty and realness. There are not many people that admit how difficult life is sometimes. Especially when it comes to weddings and marriages- most everyone talks like it is a rose colored process. You two just proved to me what a real marriage is and how you make it successful. I wish you two nothing but the best and many many years (ie. 50+ years!) for a happy and successful life together!

  6. BreAnn

    April 19th, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I love this…and I shared it – mainly because if I’m going to cry this early on a Friday, I want someone crying with me.. The honesty about rough patches is sooo refreshing, and to see you now..you guys are inspiring.

  7. stephanie

    April 19th, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Waaaahhhhh! Thank you for sharing that. *sniff*

  8. Rikki

    April 19th, 2013 at 11:36 am

    How incredibly sweet. I loved this 😉

  9. Amy

    April 19th, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    What an amazing post that brought tears to my eyes. Esspecially for someone about to take the next step of getting married and seeing how amazing yall are together, thank you for reminding me that it wont alwasy be rainbows and butterflies. Happy anniversary to you both!! xoxo!!!

  10. Geanna Chisholm

    April 19th, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Tears….at my desk….at work. What a beautiful story. Thank you, thank you for sharing something so difficult & intimate. No one is alone in this journey and it can be rough but a re-commitment is sometimes more beautiful and meaningful than the original. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MCGOWANS!

  11. Chelsea Hutchens

    April 19th, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    I’m so so proud of y’all! Love you

  12. Michelle

    April 19th, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Wow. What an incredible story of love and the courage it takes to find it within one another. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Mike

    April 19th, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!! I love you guys! 🙂

  14. Claire

    April 19th, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Wow. Thank you for this. You guys are great. Happy anniversary.

  15. Will

    April 21st, 2013 at 7:09 am

    *sniffle, sniffle*… they’re not tears, my eyes are just sweaty…

  16. cindy fowler

    April 23rd, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Wow! I am impressed. It is beautiful to see and know that people are willing to fight for their marriage. Thanks for being SO honest and hanging in there. Not only are you beautiful, amazing photographers, but beautiful people as well. God Bless.

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