Ten Years of Marriage: Love, Loss and Starting Over

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Today marks 10 years of marriage for me and my husband.  Ten years ago we exchanged vows at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas, only a few months after we had met.  We met at the mall of all places.  I managed the men’s clothing store, Express (formally Structure) and he managed a T-Mobile store.

Your first reaction might be to say, “Congratulations!”, but I need no congratulations today. We have been going through a divorce for the past 10 months.

I’ll never forget the day we met.  T-Mobile had a theft one evening after my hubby and his team had left for the night. He came to see if I or anyone from my team had seen anything suspicious.  I was no help because I had been off that evening, but we ended up talking for about an hour that day.  I remember telling one of my co-workers, “That guy talks a lot!” like he was so annoying.

I continued to spend time with him and after a few dates we quickly fell in love.

We found a cute apartment one block from the beach in Carlsbad, CA.  We were so in love that we moved in together within a month.  About 2 months later, I found out I was pregnant.

I actually remember the “oops” night and remember thinking, “Oh well.  I love this guy and if I get pregnant, I get pregnant.”  I was at that stage in my life where all my friends were married or getting married and I was ready to quit the single life and move forward as well.  I wanted the husband, 2.5 kids, house on a court…the married life that I had dreamed about as a little girl.  Little did I know what goes into that world and that life.

My parents’ marriage is one of those rare fairytale marriages that I dreamt I would have.  They married when my mom was 18 and my dad was 25.  They met one night at a college party and walked down the aisle two months later.  They are still married today and I only have one memory of them having an argument, but no words were exchanged.  I wanted their fairytale marriage from my very first date as a teenager.

I was about 4 years old when their fight happened.  I sat in the garage with my dad while he worked on this really old car of his.  It was something out of the 40′s, big and black with a bench seat in the front.  I remember sitting behind the wheel, pretending that I drove while he worked.  My mom came into the garage upset and told my dad she was leaving.  I don’t remember the exact details , but I remember feeling like I was never going to see my mother again.  These memories are coming back to me as I write this post. I forgot I even had them, but they are making things a bit clear when I look at my reactions in my own marriage.

When the hubby and I started having arguments, I didn’t really know how to handle them.  I had never seen my parents argue, so I thought I should avoid the confrontations.  I wouldn’t talk about our problems with him.  I would do my best to bury my feelings until they would surface from major build up and explode.

When they exploded, my first reaction was to get a divorce, every time.  I didn’t know any other way of handling these feelings.  Shutting down put a temporary band-aid on hurt feelings.

The fights got worse and worse through the years because of the build up and then release of feelings.  Feelings I had no idea how to manage.

It wasn’t only me that had a problem communicating.  The hubby also had a polar opposite way of dealing with arguments.  He argued until he was blue in the face and I could get no word in edgewise.  Our dysfunctional arguments evolved into a dysfunctional relationship. When we finally hit rock bottom, he wanted to go to a counselor and in my eyes, it was too late.

Our marriage faced another major difficulty – his mother. She lived with us throughout our entire marriage and made it very difficult for us to have a functional marriage.

She was very critical of me, to me.  Domestically domineering, she worked very hard to run our household, taking responsibilities that I wanted and needed to do as a wife.  I never knew what it was like to be a wife or a mother in my own home because a lot of what goes into that, she did.

Some have called me a saint for dealing with her for so long.  I call myself a coward and a submissive for letting her ruin the chapters in my life I will never experience.  I will never get those years back and never know what it was like to be a young bride, with a young family, in my own home in suburban California.

Sometimes I wonder if things would have worked out if his mother hadn’t lived with us.  Our relationship weighed under a lot of pressure because of the way she treated me, in my own home.  Most of our arguments involved my MIL and there were times when she would physically be involved in those arguments.  She finally started shutting her door and butting out, but by then, the damage had been done.

Today, I live in an apartment in Arkansas while my 3 daughters, husband and mother-in-law live together in the home we purchased in Florida.  I die inside every day I think about what was taken away from me.  The chapters I lost, the years taken from me.  I blame many things and people, I blame myself.

There are some good things that came from this experience. I add new chapters to my story every day. I thank God for my 3 beautiful, sweet angels; for the strength I found to remove myself from the dysfunctional home I helped to create; and for the people who have entered my life.

They help build me up and show me that I can live a happy life filled with love and communication.

Making Hard Decisions

Life is full of hard decisions.  As we get older they get progressively harder because more people join our lives and are affected by those decisions.  As a mother of 3 beautiful girls I recently had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life…at least I hope.

I flew back to Florida last week for my monthly trip to see the girls.  During this trip, I was also going into mediation with my soon-to-be ex-husband.  We had been together for 8 years when I knew for sure that it was completely over.

During those 8 years, we had had some ups and downs throughout the marriage. I wanted to leave several times before now, but I tried each and every time to work through it — even if it meant pushing my hurtful feelings aside and dealing with the unhappiness.

The state of Florida orders all divorcing couples to go through mediation to see if they can resolve custody and support issues without going before a judge. Prior to mediation day, I had planned meetings with the girls’ teachers to let them know what was going on and to form a relationship with them.  The teacher meetings went better than I expected and I left each meeting feeling conflicted in  my plan  for the girls.

I had arrived in Florida intending to fight for full custody of the girls.  After seeing the girls’ teachers and seeing the girls themselves happy to see me, but happier to go back home and to school each day, my plan changed.

They make straight A’s, and their teachers didn’t even know their parents were going through a divorce because the girls are so happy in class. They were both student of the week  within the first  few weeks of school.  I decided I couldn’t break their hearts or their father’s heart by taking them from their home on Florida.

I went in knowing exactly what I wanted and that I would leave if I had to change anything.  I wanted shared custody.  I wanted to make shared decisions with their dad on health, religious and school issues.  I wanted half of  Christmas break. I wanted 8 weeks in the summer.  I wanted every other Spring Break and  every other Thanksgiving.  I wanted a four day weekend every month and I wanted Mother’s Day.  If I didn’t get all of that, which is an amount of time sharing I could live with, I would leave and fight for full custody.

Mediation took 10 hours. All we resolved were the custody and visitation questions, but those are really the most important ones.

Next up…financials.  And, I won’t be sharing those details.

Requesting Prayers Please

I can never prepare myself enough for my monthly trip to Florida.  I haven’t shared this openly just yet, but I’m going through a divorce.  I live in Arkansas and my girls are in Florida with their dad and grandmother.  I fly to see them every month for about a week at a time.  It is by far the most emotionally trying thing I have ever experienced in my life, and I would not wish it upon anyone, ever.

About a week before I fly out I get stressed and a little depressed.  Knowing I have such a short period of time to spend with them I worry over what we will do each day.  I want to spend high quality time with them, so I stick to activities where we can talk, play and interact with each other.  I took them to see a movie once and decided it was a huge waste of quality time. That was the last time we saw a movie as an activity.

With the cancer scare just a week ago, getting paperwork prepared for my lawyer and getting ready for Bloggy Bootcamp Dallas, I didn’t have time or energy to be worried about what activities the girls and I would do.  I ended up planning the week on my plane trip out to Florida.

This trip was different.  They had a holiday day off school Monday, so I picked them up Sunday night.  Monday we bowled, swam, shopped a little and then ended the night at their favorite restaurant, Olive Garden.  The  thing that was different was having to take them home in the evening.  I usually have them an entire week without interruptions.  I did however get to keep my 3-year-old since she isn’t going to school yet.  She was thrilled to get to come back to the hotel with me.  She talked the entire ride back…I’ve never heard her talk SO much!

I’m lying here in the bed next to her, typing this post in the dark of the morning feeling really sad.  I miss having her warm little body next to me, so close that I can reach over to caress her hair or rub the warm skin on her arm.  I miss all three of them.  I have that happy/sad emotion going on in my heart and it sucks.  I’m grateful that in my line of work I can visit them each month, but being so far away is one of the hardest things a mother can experience.

My divorce mediation takes place later this week. I’m going to need lots of prayers on Thursday.  I need everyone to pray that we can reach some equitable and start moving toward a conclusion to this process. I’d hate for some judge, who doesn’t know or care about my girls, to make decisions on their lives.  I’m hoping the ex and I can agree on decisions that will affect their lives forever in positive ways.

Divorce is never easy, and this has been hard on everyone. Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers this week. We can use all the help we can get.