This heartfelt essay is a true story written by one of our followers. We love all that it teaches about nurturing marriage, and feel that sharing personal stories here will help all of us in our determination to strengthen our marriages.
I sat on the couch at 3am. The tears had dried up an hour before, but the shaking and hiccups were still in full swing. Every time I started to calm down I’d feel another butterfly kick from the little girl in my six-month pregnant belly. Thinking about my daughter and her big brother asleep in the other room, my heart would shatter all over again. I had two hours to make a decision that would shape the rest of their lives…would I be staying with their father?
My husband and I had met and married while attending college. Our wedding was a traditional ceremony for our faith, where we promised to work together in this life toward salvation in the next. I planned on spending my life side by side with my church-going husband as we served together in our congregations. I couldn’t wait to watch him help christen and baptize each of our children into our church. And that was the life we had been living, everything was going according to plan.
That is until we moved across country for grad school. I found myself unexpectedly pregnant and feeling very much alone. My husband was stressed with his new school and the fact that none of his peers really understood him. His church peers were all out of school and making real money and his classmates were all single and childless. As time went on, my husband started hanging out more and more with his classmates, and less and less at home. He started finding reasons to skip church. Slowly but surely we stopped talking about the things that had been so important to us before. Church became a topic of contention. I thought he was drinking (a big no-no for members of our church) but didn’t know how to confront him about it. So I didn’t.
For six months we slowly descended into passive aggressive silences and snapping at each other over little things. But that January night everything exploded. I still don’t know what started it. If it was a snarky comment from him or an eye roll from me. Either way we had it out. A lot of issues were brought up, lots of cruel things were said, but what it all came down to was that my husband didn’t want to live the values of our faith any more. Suddenly the marriage we had built over three years was over, dead at my feet. Everything we had planned, all the dreams I had of father’s blessings, youth church trips, and sitting as a family in church each Sunday were over. I felt so betrayed and abandoned.
Finally, my husband went to bed and I took up residence on the couch trying to work out my next move. As I sat there that night, I realized a lot of things. I realized that I was my husband’s wife, not his mother, and no matter how much I wanted to make his choices for him, I couldn’t. I realized I loved him, still. I realized what a good father he is. I realized what a good provider he is. I realized that we were still a good partnership. I realized that we could re-build a new marriage, our second marriage, if we wanted to. And I realized that I wanted to. I also realized that none of this mattered if he didn’t want to re-build with me.
The next morning my husband came to me, hugged me, and asked me to start with him again. And so we did. We set firm boundaries and expectations (He would not bring alcohol in the house. I would not pay tithe on his income, etc.). We stopped letting things fester. I would straight out tell him when I missed him at church and he would tell me he was going out drinking. We made an effort to focus on the things we still shared, our love of movies and the joy of our two children. It was a battle, and we had to keep changing our strategies, but it was beyond worth it.
That was exactly two years ago. We are on our second marriage and it is wonderful. There are still days I miss our first marriage, the one where I never worried about what to tell my children when they ask why Daddy doesn’t come to church with us, or dread dealing with the complexity of extended family functions. Mostly though, I am grateful. Grateful that we chose to figure it out. Grateful that all the things that were wonderful about my husband then, are still wonderful now. And mostly grateful that I don’t ever doubt our ability to overcome what life throws at us.