I got married in my mid 20’s. I loved and respected my husband and knew he would be a great husband and father. He was honorable and had integrity and I was certain that we would grow old together. Was it a passionate sexual relationship? Never. But it was kind and sweet and gentle and it seemed like it was enough.
Our relationship was very traditional. He was the breadwinner – he took care of the finances and the bills and I took care of the home. When we had our children, there was no question that I would leave my job and stay home and raise them.
I loved being fortunate enough to stay home with them and be with them through every stage. My time with the kids was magical. I loved baking and cooking for them. I loved taking them to programs and I loved being with them. It was as if being a mother was exactly what I was meant to do with my life and couldn’t have been more fulfilled. My husband worked hard and I was grateful for the life he provided us.
My happiness and love for my family was so important to me that I often ignored that little voice inside of me. The voice that screamed “what about you?” I took care of my husbands’ needs and my kids’ needs but never focused on my own. As the years progressed and our relationship evolved – it was difficult. He was difficult.
He was self centered, arrogant, and emotionally shut down. I made excuses for him all the time…. The way he spoke to my parents, the way he spoke to the kids, the fights he would have with my siblings. When he would come home from work the whole mood in the house would change and the kids learned from a very young age how to keep their daddy happy. For me, well by nature I was not a fighter. But I learnt fast. I picked my battles with him but when it was something big I wouldn’t back down.
We had great times as well. When he was happy he had the ability to make everyone around him happy and feel so special. It was what attracted me to him in the first place and so when he was “on” we were good and when he wasn’t we weren’t.
I never once contemplated leaving him. It didn’t even enter my realm of thought. We had some significant issues in our marriage (life altering) that I won’t go into and yet I still never considered leaving. I was in it for the long run.
So when he became more and more distant from me and turned away from me sexually I was shocked. I blamed it on his parents being ill, I blamed it on his work being so busy – I blamed it on anything I could.
I will never forget the night he told me that he was seeing a therapist (I had no clue) and that he wasn’t happy. He felt that his needs were not being meant, that I needed to take a look at myself and our relationship and figure out what the disconnect was.
ME? Did he really say this was my fault? And he did…. And so for the first time ever I went to see a therapist as I couldn’t process his words.
I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t happy. That I had settled. That I could love my family and my husband as much as I wanted but I was still a person with needs. I had put everyone ahead of me and as a result I was actually angry. I settled for so little with my husband that I was actually an awful role model for my 3 children.
He wanted me to attend couples therapy with him so I could take the blame for our marriage breakdown. I refused. I needed to stay on track with my own therapy to figure out who I was and what I wanted before I tried to salvage our relationship.
He was furious – he wasn’t used to me having needs and taking care of myself. Our relationship went from bad to worse with him ultimately moving out.
I was in therapy for a year and really worked hard to understand why I didn’t think I was worthy of happiness. Why I never even contemplated getting out of my marriage and why I accepted so little for myself. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of self-reflection but in the end I knew that I could never go back and be married to someone like him. I had sacrificed myself for his happiness and that wasn’t something I was prepared to do anymore. I had changed and evolved and learnt that I was in fact worthy.
We did ultimately divorce and although it was rough on the kids at the beginning – they are better for it now. My ex and I remain friends for the kids but it’s hard to change our dance.
He doesn’t like the new me and for the first time ever I am okay with that because I DO!