When I got married fifteen years ago it was the most thought through and prayed about decision of my life. I knew what I wanted and I wanted to make sure I was doing it right. I knew what I was getting into. In addition to marrying my best friend I was taking on his five kids, dealing with his ex-wife, a slew of unresolved emotional issues (haha, I had my own too) and fifteen years worth of hefty child support.
There were some rough moments in the beginning but we worked them out and grew closer. I grew to absolutely LOVE his girls and they grew to love me too. I gave them my heart and they became mine!!
From the get go we had ups and downs but I focused on the UPs. I was all-in and I gave it my all. This doesn’t mean I was perfectly agreeable to everything, but I was always 100% committed. I was committed to investing in both myself and my marriage. Always striving for ways to improve and make both better.
Together we experienced a full range of life!! For me, he turned on the music and brought color and fun back into my world. He challenged me and occasionally he was (sometimes very) challenging for me to deal with. And no doubt I was equally challenging to him! We had some hard times and A LOT of really good times. I focused on the good times and continued to invest in him and our relationship. I was grateful for him and all he brought to the table.
Two years ago I was slammed with a major health challenge… a perforated bowel and off the charts sepsis which resulted in four major abdominal surgeries, complication after complication, and a year and a half of doctor’s appointments and healing… and he was always physically there for me. He was a perfect caregiver. Dutiful, caring, patient, attentive. Always close by when I needed him.
But as my body recovered the romance we’d previously shared, didn’t. We no longer had fun together and when we spent time together it was simply routine. Spontaneously joyful and tender moments were a thing of the past. The better I physically felt, the more he spent time away from me. Life became a process of going through the motions. When I complained about his lack of interest in me he said things change. I did my best to entice him, but the spark wasn’t there anymore.
He continued to be dutiful, patient and attentive but the charming smile and sparkle in his eyes were gone. His expression was dull and flat more than not, and more and more he spent time away from home. He replaced the words we and us, with me and I. And instead of talking about our plans for the future, he’d drop phrases like “one day you’re going to look up and realize I’m gone”, and “you’re going to have to figure this out because I’m not always going to be here to do it for you”.
I was frustrated with his lack of interest, but I dealt with it by focusing on improving myself and feeling and expressing even more love and gratitude for him. I hoped if I turned myself into a better and brighter person it would positively affect our marriage.
We spent time on a trip together last summer and for a couple of weeks it was good between us. Almost like old times, and I had HOPE! But soon after we got home we were back in the same old lackluster boat.
There were signs that something was seriously wrong and I saw them, butI believed we were just going through a rough patch and he was still in the game with me. I trusted he’d stick it out and keep working with me. He’d stayed by my side through the hardest period of my life (not easy for him!!) and I thought if I focused on improving myself things between us would improve. I focused on the good times between us and continually expressed my love and gratitude for him.
One day I said something that upset him and in an energetic voice he said he was DONE with me. The next day another innocent comment turned into another pointless argument and with grit and steeliness in his voice he told me again that he was DONE. His expression and tone said he meant it. When I asked if he meant divorce done, he said, “yes. I’ve been done for a long time. It’s over.”
It’s interesting how the body works. Mine immediately went into shock. My insides started tremoring and tears ran out of my eyes and nose. I felt like I couldn’t get air and at the same time, I felt like I was going to explode.
When I asked him why, what was going on? He said he’d been told to move forward. That he had something to do and he couldn’t do it with me in his life. That he didn’t know all the details because they needed to unfold but the first step was separating from me. He said he was going for his dreams and he needed to “close out our relationship” to have what he wanted. He was absolutely certain and firm about that.
Nothing made any sense to me. His revelation was surreal and bizarre. It shook me to my core and caused shock waves that still haven’t completely subsided.
The best thing about the timing of it is we were in Hawaii and being near that vast and beautiful ocean seemed to help absorb my initial and most painful waves of shock. During the next seventeen days we were there I was busy absorbing and processing his news. We spent time with our daughter and her husband and I was able to put on a smiley face and truly enjoy it. They had no idea anything was wrong and I was grateful to have more good times together.
After we got back home we got back into our same old routine. He gave me an outline of his plans for the day and sent me short polite texts asking if I needed anything. He texted to let me know when he was on his way home at night. He was always thoughtful, considerate and distant.
For seven weeks I processed through the emotion I was feeling as it came up and (although I didn’t always succeed) I did my best to be gracious and pleasant. I sought to understand him and what he needed and I tried to meet his wants and needs. I focused on every good thing he did for me and I felt truly grateful. I latched onto to every bit of warmth and encouragement he gave me. I prayed for a miracle that would turn his heart back towards me.
Instead of a miracle I slowly gained acceptance that he really was done with me. I could see that he cared about me and didn’t want to hurt me, but he had not been in love with me for quite a long time. His heart was romantically disconnected from me and there was no turning back for him. A major turning point seemed to be when I got sick, after that it was never the same between us. I faced the fact that he had no intention of staying with me.
For me, acceptance came in stages. It involved many long hours spent in prayer and many sleepless nights. I allowed my feelings to come up. I felt sad, mad, confused, frustrated, abandoned and betrayed. I acknowledged how I was feeling and I prayerfully talked it out with my Savior. I turned to two favorite scriptures and drew massive strength from them.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke unto you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~Matthew 11:28-30
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ~John 14:27
I take those heart-warming scriptures literally and as I repeatedly turned my burdens over to Jesus Christ and surrendered what I couldn’t change or control, He filled my heart with His peace. He comforted and soothed my heart and gave me understanding. As light was shed on the subject I found the strength to rise up and (almost) gracefully let go.
Craig slept in the other room and quietly moved out in stages. When I realized with the exception of a couple of large items his stuff was completely gone, I felt relieved. And I also marveled that it made my heart ache. Even more. Still.
I could wonder what I did wrong. Believe me, I have asked the question. But the more I ponder it the more I see that he’s just exercising his agency.
Instead of holding onto the painful energy of judgment and blame I’m choosing to honor his choice, and focus on loving and nurturing myself more.
When I married him I jumped in a hundred percent. I burned the boat and never looked back. I was there for the long haul and I trusted that he was too. When he chose out it caused me pain like none other, and it left me with two choices.
I can either become bitter or I can become better. I’m choosing the option to better myself, to rise up above the pain and become triumphant and victorious.
I’m not a victim, and he is not a villain. We are simply two people doing our best to figure things out and find happiness. He’s decided he needs to go another direction, and I’m just doing my best to adjust. I’m being very honest and vulnerable here. Remember you are hearing my side only. Please do not feel sorry for me. That’s not the point of my sharing this.
My heart is bruised, but I am not broken! I am whole and complete and I’ve proven that I have the capacity to love and give much in a relationship. I like knowing that about myself.
I’m choosing to be grateful for the blessings of this marriage. On the positive side we loved and served each other for many years and I’ve grown and learned so much from being with him. He taught and shaped me and helped me heal. I would not be the strong and confident woman I am today without him. I am grateful for our time together.
I’m choosing to focus on the blessings and lessons that were part of the package deal of marrying him. I will always care about him as a person. I’m choosing to remain his friend and give him my blessings. I sincerely want him to be happy!
I’m choosing to love and forgive and keep working on becoming a better version of myself. Every single day. I’m choosing to stay focused on what I want, and trust the process of life to bring it to me. This is relatively easy for me to do because it’s a way I chose to be many years ago.
For years I’ve been choosing to rise above my circumstances and soar! I’m not about to sink and drown in a well of self pity now. Gratefully with a lot of help from Jesus I’m heading back up to the top faster than I would’ve believed was possible.
I’m grateful I know how to manage my energy, that these are not just words I use, but the way that I do life! I can’t even imagine how I’d be getting through this challenging time without the knowledge and tools I have!
I might not have fully gotten what I wanted (yet!) but I’m alive, I’m strong, and I have increased clarity, purpose and direction.
I’ve still got me, and I’m still on my game!
And that’s a Hallelujah!