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.


  1. I remember hearing an older gentleman mention how his parents never fought in front of him and when he and his wife had their 1st argument he felt the same way you did. We have “discussions” in front of our children and I pray they learn to “fight fair.” Thank you for your transparency and for being authentic. Praying with you through the emotions… and excited to see what the future holds. You are a beautiful women and deserve the best. :)

  2. Wow, Courtney. I can’t imagine what your life was like back then, and I’m so sorry you had to experience that. I was in a relationship with a man who had a mother like that. I’m so thankful I didn’t marry him! I have the best MIL ever!

    Your angels are so beautiful, and I have a feeling this next chapter is going to be filled with so many blessings, including a pretty special man :) Thank you for sharing your heart.

  3. I think a congratulations ARE in order. Congratulations for seeing that things weren’t right, for standing up for yourself and for not letting your children grow up in an environment where fighting and threatening divorce are the norm. They are lucky little girls to have you as a mom, and for getting the chance to see the real you before they are fully grown. Trust me.

  4. So brave, friend. So SO brave.

  5. Courtney, may the next ten years be ones of love & discovery. Saying a prayer for you & your girls today.

  6. You have been on quite a journey and I am a firm believer that NO pain is wasted! You are such a strong, smart woman who is breathing so much life and experience into those around you! Hugs my sweet friend as you press forward and continue to create your happy ever after! Thru brokenness comes beautiful life!

  7. It’s so interesting what you say about the not seeing your parents argue… My inlaws never argue, or at least not in front of anyone, so for the longest time whenever my husband and I had a tiff he would equate it with feeling like I no longer loved him. I grew up in a very volatile home and my parents only stopped arguing after they no longer cared about their marriage or each other, so, to me arguing equals carrying enough to fight for so something…
    Anyway, didn’t mean to digress… Thinking of you today. I know this must be an incredibly hard day for you. Just know that, as always, I stand in awe of your strength and ability to do what you feel is right and best for your kids. Sending much hugs and love.

  8. So brave. Mothers can be so domineering from 500 miles away they can also nearly ruin your marriage. Life may be different now, but it will be just exactly as you dreamed — the only difference will be the characters iin the story.

  9. Thank you for sharing your story. You don’t know how much it has impacted me.

  10. Thanks for your sharing your personal story with us. You’re amazing and I like how you said you are creating new chapters now. I hope they are amazing and wonderful chapters too! =)

  11. I’ve been following along a little to what’s been going on but never knew the story. I see your pictures of when you are with your girls and it’s like you are reborn. Right now you have to do what is right for you. Rebuilding from scratch has got to be tough but you have a great community behind you every step of the way!

  12. Huge, gigantic hugs, sweetie.

  13. I have to concur, living with a mother-in-law is the worst. I adored my mother-in-law before she moved in, but once she did everything became very difficult. She lived with us for a year and half and my husband and I experienced problems we never had before. I felt trapped in my own home and displaced. I can understand why you had to leave. Thankfully for me, my mother-in-law has moved out and all three of us (my husband, my mother-in-law and I) are all trying to rebuild our relationships, but it’s very hard. I wish you happiness and contentment in your new life, you deserve it! You are such a strong person!

  14. Courtney, I love it when you write from your heart. My parents never fought because they both had been in failed marriages. I witnessed two fights from them, one when my older sister went to college and the other when my mom left my dad for good. My own marriage is a mess because of things like this and I applaud your bravery to stand up for yourself and leave when it was time. Your girls know that you love them and are there for them and someday they will be old enough to read these words and love you even more than you or they thought possible. You are a beautiful person, Courtney, and I noticed a few exciting things are happening for you now. So, Congratulations, on being you, authentic and amazing!

  15. We can all learn from each other. You aren’t alone. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Thank you for sharing your story!

  17. @Garrettabrown says:

    My parents didn’t fight in front of me. I didn’t think married people did fight. I was blown away when I got married. Even before we were married my dad would criticize my relationship and ask why we fought so much. I too was a coward and did not stand up for myself.

  18. You really are strong for removing yourself from that situation. I struggle with getting out of my own dysfunctional relationship on a daily basis. And it’s always encouraging to hear from people who’ve done it and are actually moving on to brighter futures.

  19. Courtney – what a beautiful, honest post. Just like you :)

    Thanks for sharing your life and for the gift of your friendship. I’m so blessed to know you!

  20. Oh Courtney! I relate to this post on so many levels. Wishing you the best as you continue on your journey. There are many chapters left to write in your book and I sense a happy ending.

  21. This is such a great post, thank you for sharing. I think our “past” lives are very similar and I find a comfort in knowing someone has an understanding of what I have been through. Many times I thought, no one will understand and many would judge me for my decision to get divorced and for the decisions that followed but I had to develop a mindset knowing that my decisions are based on my feelings and my kids. That is all that matters. I think you are a strong woman from removing yourself from that relationship (actually one of the strongest and most confident I know) and I am glad to call you a friend. I know your girls will grow up to be as strong as their mother.

    It was great connecting with you this weekend and I think where you are at now in your “relationship” aspect of your life is exactly where you need to be :) You still have many chapters to be written and I know they will be awesome! ((hugs))

  22. what you feel as a failing will become your strength. you know that i know exactly what you are going through. be sure to reach out to friends when you need them…don’t bottle it!!! XOXOX

  23. I enjoyed being able to talk to you a little bit over the weekend and love that you’ve shared this story. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  24. Sometimes being brave is the scariest thing. My parents divorced when I was young and my husband’s parents have been married forever. I remember going to pre-marriage counseling and the priest telling us that because I came from a broken home it would be difficult. I thought are you kidding I live in the real world where I realize that relationships don’t magically just work. I hate being right that marriage for the first 5 years was harder for my husband. The last 3 years have been awesome and we weathered the storm. Sometimes we just have to do what’s right for us when we gave it all we had!

  25. Wow, Courtney. Brave to have lived it, brave to try to learn from it and so brave to share it. I hope this means brighter days ahead. You’re amazing.

  26. I admire your strength and wish you happiness!! Everyone deserves happiness!! I truly believe that your girls will love you more for the decision you made!! It took me a while but as I grew older I understood and loved my Dad more for leaving and divorcing my mom!! {{HUGS}}

  27. I don’t think my marriage could have survived either of our mothers living with us. Don’t be too hard on yourself for not standing up to her. You were trying to be respectful and maintain peace. It’s so hard when we don’t have the communication tools that we need to survive living with other adults. Thank you for sharing pieces of your heart and your story!

  28. I love my mother-in-law, but I don’t want to live with her. Early in our marriage I think she felt I was stealing her son away and we had a rough few years working through this. You perserved and outlasted what lots of women could not have tolerated even in the short term. I can’t imagine your pain but it’s made you the incredible woman that you are today.

  29. It takes a lot of bravery to share such a personal story. Thank you so much for sharing. Starting over is a good thing and hopefully for you it leads to happiness.

  30. Courtney, I never would have guessed any of this was going on when I met you at SoFabCon. Sometimes, we are reluctant to share our struggles, afraid of being judged. The reality is we all have our struggles, we all have to lean on someone and sharing makes us more of a community. Thank you for telling your story. I had a bad day today, and coming home to read your brave account of your first 10 years of marriage made me know I am not alone in struggles. May your next decade be everything you want it to be, and God bless you.

  31. Courtney, What you said resonated with me! I honestly didn’t even realize it until you said it, but my parents never argued either. I am four years out of a 14 year marriage. I am fortunate that I have my 3 amazing kids with me, but now I want to know how to teach them to argue! Thank you so much for sharing and being so real!

  32. I love this Courtney, and I love you. My husband’s parents never fought, ever, and he doesn’t know how to fight. He shuts down. Everyone fights. It’s normal. The fact that you can own up to your side of the problems is what makes you so special in my eyes. It’s never always someone else’s fault and I’ll always stand behind you on this one. You did the right thing for yourself, for your ex husband, and especially for your girls.

  33. It’s so difficult when you are younger to know what to do when those situations of confrontation arise. Sticking it out for 10 years must have been tough, and with your MIL underfoot. You are a strong and amazing woman who has accomplished so much! Your are setting a great example for your daughters of how to be strong and happy in life! I can’t wait for you to get them the entire summer! You guys will have a BLAST!!!

  34. What a great story of putting your best foot forward and doing what you knew was best for you and your daughters. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Melissa Garcia says:

    Oh Courtney I know you feel! My mother lived with us for a year and it was terrible! I know how much you miss your girls! Thank you for sharing your story! Hang in there you have a bright future ahead of you!

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