My marriage almost ended two and half years ago, here's how we recovered.
My husband, Cody, and I had both done things on our own to screw up our relationship. All of those problems acted as wedges that pushed us further and further apart until we barely even recognized each other (despite the fact that we slept in the same bed every night). We went days without speaking, and it was totally normal for me and my 7-year-old daughter Addie to leave home for weeks at a time so he could study. Once we moved to Indiana, I learned not to rely on Cody; school was his first priority and we agreed to simply stick it out until the end. After all, law school was only 3 years.
I don't remember doing many things with Cody that didn't involve mundane errands on Saturday or church on Sunday. He was gone all the time, so I pushed my way through the loneliness knowing that he was doing it for us and for our future, but truthfully, I felt abandoned.
I did everything for and with Addie. She was my entire world (and I was hers) for those 3 years. She never really expected her dad to be around, which was good, because he wasn't. Cody and Addie have always loved each other fiercely, but he missed out on a grand majority of her life because of school and work.
I took care of everything because that was my job as the mom. Cody's job was to get good grades and get through school and I did everything in my power to make that as easy for him as possible. I wanted more kids, but more than anything I wanted a husband, my husband. I wanted him to notice me. I did everything to desperately seek his approval. When I realized nothing I did got his attention, I became more and more entrenched in the online world. I had friends that lived in the computer who understood me. They liked me. They said nice things to me. They said I looked pretty and they offered words of comfort and condolence when I was down. I was never alone as long as I had a computer and a Wi-Fi signal nearby. I began to ignore Cody more and more, our daily lives were completely separate, until finally I decided I could do just fine without him. I had been theoretically alone for 3 years. Alone was familiar. If he wasn't going to tell me the things I needed and wanted to hear, I was going to go out and find someone who would.
He kept promising me that one day things would get better. "After this semester, things will get better. After this year, things will get better. Once law review is over, things will get better. After I graduate, things will get better. Once I’m done with the bar, things will get better."
But things never got better, and I kept waiting for that magical day. We wasted 3 years of our lives together waiting on things to get better. I decided to leave. I had a plan. I had an escape route. I pulled him aside one Sunday and said "I'm leaving you." I could tell it hit him from out of nowhere. He truly believed we were fine.
He didn't get angry. He didn't beg. He didn't try to reason with me.
He saw right away that I was weary from the last 3 years of waiting and I could no longer stand to be alone and ignored. I had every right to leave, he had every right to let me.
But he didn't. He promised me that from that moment forward I would never go a day without knowing how much he loved me.
We spent much of the next 3 months in silent recovery, both of us scared that the other one would change our minds and leave. We talked about everything, about what a disappointment I must be to him that I couldn't give him the big family he wanted (I wanted two; he wanted the von Trapp Family.) Then we talked about how that didn't matter, that Addie and I mattered, and that more kids wasn't something I needed to worry about, we needed to worry about saving our marriage.
We moved from our apartment into a hotel for a month as our home was being finished. We decided we'd hash it all out in the hotel, leave it all there and start new in our first home together. But shortly after we moved into our home, we got into a huge fight. I looked up at him screaming, "WE DON'T DO THIS HERE! THIS HOME IS OUR SAFE PLACE! WE DON'T FIGHT HERE!" It ended then and we haven't fought in our home since.
I got my husband back in late 2009 and he got his wife back around the same time. We made it. We survived the horrible ugly that sometimes comes even when a relationship is built on love. We started over. Things are equal now. Things are discussed. Family comes first, and as soon as our second daughter, Vivi, came into our lives it's as though she sealed all the cracks shut between the three of us who wandered through life without her for the last decade.
I thought I was in love on our wedding day, June 16, 2001. But as I sit here today I am more in love with him and us together than I ever have been in my entire life. We are so good together. We still have our stumbles here and there, he's learning to be the dad he wasn't for the first 6 years and I'm learning to be comfortable in my own skin and reveling in how far we've come.
If there's someone or something worth fighting for, fight with all you have. Believe that you are worth fighting for as well. You deserve all the happiness life can give you despite the horrible pains and disappointments that will be handed to you along the way. Without the dark, we wouldn't have light. Without the bitter, we wouldn't have the sweet. Without pain, we wouldn't have the relief of eventually collapsing into love and finally, for the first time even, feeling like we can catch our breath.
This article was originally published at Mooshinindy.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.