What Does “For Better or For Worse” Really Mean? (Part One)

Marriage-3My only sister is getting married and with it comes all the motherly instincts an older sister would have. Not surprisingly, I have been reflecting upon my own seven-year-plus marriage and the journey it has taken.

Mr. Wonderful and I had no idea what “for better or for worse” really meant when we said our wedding vows. As friends, we saw each other in all our annoying and moody ways. As a dating couple, we gave each other chicken soup when one of us caught the cold, and went through career changes and family drama together. When I was bedridden from a nasty car accident, he brought a bouquet of tulips from Chicago. As we recited our lines to each other at the altar, we naively thought we understood what marriage was all about.

A year after we got married, I had clinical depression. It wasn’t the first time I suffered from depression, but this time it was more severe and longer than it had ever been before. It’s not a condition understood by very many people unless they’ve gone through it themselves, and Mr. Wonderful saw me turn from a person who wanted to have dinner parties every week to not wanting to do anything but sleep and cry. I became paranoid, anxious and overly sensitive. I hated myself. When I heard someone was dying, I told God I would be happy to trade places. I know it sounds terrible to not want the gift of life, but I didn’t want mine.

Mr. Wonderful faithfully went to counseling with me, even though the sessions had little to do with him. He didn’t know what else to do. The therapist told him there was nothing he could do. It was my “problem,” and I had to get through it somehow.

I can’t imagine what that period was like for my husband. He would suggest having friends over. I would say no. On the rare occasions I agreed, I would sit listlessly at the dinner table, staring blankly at the wall behind our friends’ faces, completely void of conversation. I dreaded family events, always trying to muster up the best face possible, only to be totally exhausted afterwards.

Mr. Wonderful is not a saint, but never once did he blame me or my depression for our shell of a marriage. He would tell me that he still loved me, and would choose what was left of myself over not being married to me at all.

After three years, the cloud gradually lifted. Perhaps it was therapy. Perhaps it was a miracle. Perhaps it was because I eventually decided to make a plan to change my life. When you feel you’ve hit rock bottom, suddenly taking risks doesn’t seem so scary…

…continued here

Linking to More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express

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  1. Keith Sun says

    Thanks for sharing this, Jen. as someone familiar with depression, i can understand the hardship of what you were experiencing those first few years of marriage. no doubt it put a huge stress on jason, but like the marriage vow says, “for better or for worse,” really means just that. it is a beautiful thing that god provided your husband for you in your time of need.

    i hope you’re doing well in the meantime in panama, i miss you guys and i’ve always appreciated your candor and generosity of spirit.

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing something so personal. I am sure many people will be blessed by this and your “to be continued” story. Praise God for all He has done and will do! Love you both!

  3. SJ says

    Absolutely beautiful. He truly deserves the title Mr. Wonderful for such grace. God continue to bless you and watch over you both. :)

  4. says

    This is amazing, thank you for sharing this. Mental health can be so fragile and beyond our control sometimes, but that’s when we most need love and support. I am so grateful you received that from him– what a testimony to God’s love!

  5. says

    I felt we are sharing a very similar goal even similar struggles. So glad that you visited me today, I discovered another beautiful and down to earth lady to share stories and outfit, of course!

    From jing at http://www.bejingxu.com

  6. Lauren says

    Thank you so much for writing this. Clinical depression is something that many people live with on a daily basis, yet no one talks openly about it. I’ve known so many people in my life that I had no idea were struggling as much as they were because they were ashamed or embarrassed to admit they were depressed because they had “everything they ever wanted.” And on the flip side, I know how difficult it can be to live with someone who is depressed. Your Mr. Wonderful truly deserves that title.

    Disco Daydream

    • lifeunrefined says

      You are dead on. I’ve lived with guilt about my depression most of my life because I grew up in a comfortable home, in a safe neighborhood, and had all the privileges I needed. But depression can happen to anyone, whether it’s triggered by a life crisis or brain chemistry. My hope is that by freely talking about it, I can encourage others to do the same and find support with one another.

  7. says


    You are such a good writer! It takes a brave soul to share something so personal, and you wrote about it so beautifully. I am sure someone will read your story and it will help them. Sounds like you caught a good one!

    xo katie // a touch of teal

    • lifeunrefined says

      Thanks Katie, that really means a lot! I love writing. :) If my story helps someone else, then my experience was not a loss.

  8. says

    This was beautiful and I thank you for sharing this. Your husband sounds like an absolutely wonderful man and I know from my own experiences that having the person you love most supporting you, no matter what, is the most important thing in the world. At times like that it’s important to know that someone really, truly does care.

    Clothes & Quotes

  9. says

    I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to go through this or to even share this here. You’re right that not many people understand what ‘depression’ really is and how much of a toll it can take on a family – it takes a very strong person to share what you have. I’m so happy your cloud lifted and Mr. Wonderful is indeed that!

  10. Tina says

    Thank you for sharing this, Jen, and being vulnerable dobwe all know that it’s normal when life–especially my own–is not as we want it to be. Kkeeping it real.

  11. Thida says

    Hey Jen! I’m so glad I came across this! How are you? missed your beautiful sincere face. I remember last year in LA, after the lucky FABB, you, Alina and I went out for deserts and I remember you told us “my life isn’t as glamorous” and the same time I thought to myself, mine isn’t either. We make it seem so great because we are surrounded by what sociey deem as perfect and what we should want and have. Bottom line is the idea of being perfect brought me to the same page As you are, depression… remember when I told you that it started when my mom passed. It was way before that, and till this day I am still struggling. No matter how great my life is in line, there’s always that inner mood swing that can snap my moods upside down, which has put a toll on my relationship as well. We are so blessed with people who have patience and love us because that makes a huge differnce. I’m so glad you stepped out to share such a personal story because now I know that I am not alone and you are not alone. I am still trying to find answers as to why i feel this way. But I know time will heal anything. I’ve learned to lift myself up by reminding myself of all the blessings in my life. Miss you and hope you are well! Jealous of all your travels but I’m so happy for you!
    Thida Kol

    • lifeunrefined says

      Thida, this just makes me love you all the more! Know that you definitely have another friend who understands the struggle with depression, and all the guilt we carry along with it. Can’t wait til we meet again so we can have another heart to heart. <3

  12. Linda Manns Linneman says

    Life is so full of ups and downs. I know what you mean about depression. I have been going through some depression myself lately and am having a hard time digging myself back out. I really appreciate you sharing this great article


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