Don’t give up! Seriously. I mean it. You reply, Oh, Taylor, you’re one of those people who pray every morning in front of a lit candle and read your Bible, who actually likes Christian music, who’s been married to the same person your whole life. . . of course God can heal your marriage . . .

Well, yes, I am a Jesus person and I try very hard to get up and spend time with Him every morning because I am undoubtedly a better wife, mother, and friend when I do. I listen to Christian music because it keeps me connected to Jesus throughout the day, when I’m running around doing ten things at once.

But when I say not to give up, I mean it. Jack and I were married at nineteen, before either of us knew I suffered from an extreme case of Bipolar 1 Disorder. Besides the fact that two nineteen year olds getting married run the risk of a 95% divorce rate, my illness splintered our marriage into a million pieces. We did try to file for divorce after eight months of being separated, and it was by the grace of God alone that He brought us back together (and the court house refused our papers because they were in the wrong format!) Years later, as I researched for this site, I learned that first marriages in which one partner has Bipolar 1 Disorder have a 90% divorce rate. When I read that number, when I considered the loving (highly flawed but sacramental) marriage Jack and I have been blessed with, there is only God to thank, only hands lifted, only knees bent.

The struggles didn’t end the day we decided that, with God’s help, we would commit ourselves anew to our marriage. We have fought to redefine again and again a marriage that keeps being faced with the shifting tides of this life: through the death of our first son, Caleb, through the happy birth of our Rainbow baby, through the death of Jack’s father and the rebuilding of his family, and through the long journey we walk with our heart warrior, Samuel.

We continue to be encumbered with medical costs, yet God continues to provide. We continue to worry about Samuel, but God walks beside us. We mourn together the loss of Caleb, and we allow each other to mourn separately. We continue to remodel a house in which every corner is wonky and rats climb the apple tree and infest the attic. We fight over chopping down apple trees, how to discipline our kids, the fact that I won’t sit down and relax, the budget, money . . . We struggle to get our family to church on Sundays, and are at least ten minutes late every Sunday.

And we have times when we’re madly in love and times when we want to kill each other. But through it all, I have learned something I won’t let go of: starting over with someone else is far more daunting than endeavoring to keep loving, forgiving, and trying to understand this man who has been through it all with me.

Today, Darlene Schacht’s Messy Beautiful Love is available in book stores and online for you to buy. I guarantee that this book will help you be a better spouse, a better Christian, and ultimately more successful in your marriage.

To help promote Messy Beautiful Love, I’ll be giving away a copy of the book (along with all the freebies from the pre-order promotion), courtesy of Darlene Schact, today! All you have to do is leave a comment on Red Vine’s Facebook page sharing your favorite part of being married to enter the drawing.

When I need inspiration, when I need to remember why to turn, again, to my love and keep on keeping on, this is one of the songs I listen to:

May we all find new courage today to love each other better.

Taylor