MARRIED WITH CHILDREN
I got married when I was twenty four years old and looking back, what do you know when you're twenty four years old? The things I know now are very different from the things that I knew then.
We got married, we bought a house but when it came time to start a family, we had trouble getting pregnant. All of these steps and all of these challenges that you go through in a marriage, test your marriage. From moving in together, trying to get pregnant, then having children, these challenges really weigh on your relationship. There were times where I felt like throwing in the towel and saying, maybe we shouldn't be trying so hard to have a baby but I pushed those voices as far back as I could to move forward and focus on the next chapter.
We eventually got pregnant, we had our first child and then we were thrown a huge curveball. My sister passed away when my baby was only six weeks old. It was a huge loss. My sister was my whole life and you just can't prepare for something like that but what you hope for, and I think what we all believe is that the person that you've chosen to spend your life with will be there for you. I needed someone to pick me up, I needed someone to literally get me out of bed and hold me up but I didn’t have that. If we did not have a baby, I'm not sure that we would have made it past that.
I found myself constantly in situations where I was constantly defending him, his actions and things that would happen in our relationship to my friends and family and it went on that way for a really long time. The things that happened inside my home were very different from the things that happened outside my home. I'm sure to many other people, it looked like the perfect marriage but on the inside, there was lack of communication and there was lack of connection. There was a lot that was lacking.
I always knew I didn’t want to have an only-child and thoughts definitely crossed my mind that if I were to leave, then it would just be me and my son. And sure, I could have more children with somebody else, but was that what I wanted? I was already in my marriage and so we kept going and had another child.
We co-existed for a really long time on completely different paths going in our own directions and we both became very different people. There was never a time where we were growing together. There were constant changes all the time and instead of having conversations and making decisions together, we just went about it separately. We just lived in the same house together.
I constantly thought about divorce. It was always there. I would go to bed at night and he would be downstairs because we never went to bed together and every night I would lie there and think, how did I end up here?
I hadn’t really opened up about what was going on but then I went away on a girl’s trip. We drank six bottles of wine and for the very first time in all of my years of being married, I just completely opened up about every single thing that had ever happened to my relationship. I had never talked to anybody about it but it felt like it was time. The next morning when we were not intoxicated, one of my friends said, You need to get a divorce. I don't even know how I functioned when I came home from that getaway because it was like the worst hangover I've ever had. It was like an alcohol hangover plus I had just released everything going on in my personal life and now I needed to live with the fact that I said it out loud and that people knew.
For Mother's Day I have very low expectations. The only expectation as a mom in the marriage that I was in was that my husband would have my children make me a card. I got up in the morning, he was sleeping beside me and I had the two kids on my bed. One was having a full blown tantrum and the other one was watching TV. I snapped a picture and I sent it to one of my other friends and I said, ‘Happy Mother's Day to me’. She wrote me back and said, ‘why the fuck is your husband sleeping?’ I didn't even really think about him sleeping because it was so normal, even on Mother's Day.
I went downstairs with both my kids while he slept and I got a text message from my parents asking if we wanted to go for brunch. I took the kids and went upstairs and got them dressed and I thought to myself, if I'm quiet enough, he won't wake up and I can go for my Mother's Day brunch without him because that is the only thing that I want for my Mother's Day right now. Unfortunately, he woke up and he went to shower. We got in the car and I couldn’t stop crying. I guess he finally noticed and asked what was wrong but I couldn’t talk to him about it. He went to park the car and of course, he sat in the car for a very, very long time, which wasn’t unusual. He was always on the phone, never a part of family meals or anything. My parents were at their wits end and I had been defending him for years.
Breakfast ended and we got back in the car and it was also my daughter’s birthday party that day so he asked if there was anything he could do to help with the party. I told him to just go and buy water bottles because I couldn’t even stand to be around him. We got to the birthday party and I thought, tonight's going to be the night. We came home and the kids went to play in the backyard on the swing set. I looked at him and said, “this is not working. Something needs to change.” He kept saying the same things he always said and I said, “I don't give a fuck. I have cared for so long. I have pushed you for so long. I have tried to get you to talk to people, see doctors. I've talked to your parents, your parents and tried to talk to you. We have been through this so many times that I don't give a fuck anymore. You are a grown man, and it is time for you to take some ownership over your life. Because I don't want ownership over it anymore.”
“AND HE NEVER CAME HOME AFTER THAT…”
He was leaving on a business trip that night so I took the kids to his parents house for Mother's Day dinner. He stayed home so he could get everything packed and went to the airport. I went home by myself with my children, I got into bed and I just felt this relief. Something snapped inside of me that day. I knew I couldn’t have him come back because I would never find the courage again to ask him to leave again. I said, “When you get home, I think it's best that you go to your parents for a while.” After he got home, he came over one night and he was like, “how are we going to fix this?” I just looked at him and I said, “there is no fixing this.” He never came back home after that.
Once you make that decision to move forward with a divorce or a separation, there's a big difference between making that decision and feeling good with it. I had to call a lawyer, I had to figure out how to move forward. We had a lack of communication in our marriage but I really wanted to ensure that we made up for that in our divorce process. Divorce is very lonely, very scary and it feels like it's one person against the other. But we needed to be a team for our kids, more so than we did in the marriage.
We tried to keep things as simple and as amiable as possible. I wanted closure as quickly as I could get it but you need to be separated for a year until you can get divorced. We tried to make the transition as simple as possible for our kids. For us, that meant that the kids would sleep in my house all the time and he would come into my home to put the kids to bed and it all sort of worked for a while until I got to a point where it was time to start living my life again.
BACK TO THE DATING SCENE?
Almost a year went by and people wanted to start setting me up on dates. I had said to everyone that I wasn’t interested in meeting anyone. I had never been on any dating apps and going on them felt like a declaration of being divorced. I was heading home from a family vacation, I was at the airport and our flight was delayed. Finally, we got a call for us to board, so we were in a line and someone came around and tapped me on the shoulder. I was standing with my kids, I turned around and this guy said, “Hi, do you know if the plane is boarding?” I said “yes'' and then I looked at this guy and his kids and I realized that I recognized him from many years before. He clearly did not recognize me but once I introduced myself, he remembered who I was too. He was kind of looking around and then he said, who are you traveling with? Which I knew very clearly was code for: where is your husband?
I knew that he was divorced, but he did not know that I was divorced, so I didn't give in. I said, “I'm traveling with my dad and my brother, my brother's girlfriend, and these are my kids.” We talked for a few more minutes before the plane boarded. When we landed, my son took my phone to message his dad and tell him that we were home and I saw a message come in on my phone. It said, ‘strange question, but where's your husband?’ It was from the guy in line and I realized he had my phone number from when we met a long time ago. So I messaged him back and I said, ‘we're separated.’ We both went home and we were texting back and forth and then around 10:00 pm, he called me. We had a conversation until 5:00 in the morning. We put together the pieces that 12 years ago we had brunch together after he had met my ex-husband at a stag party. I remember being excited to make new couple friends and he and I exchanged numbers so that we could facilitate plans. Things didn't work out and we literally never saw each other again.
I pretty much knew that night that this was going to be a serious relationship.
THE RELATIONSHIP BEGINS...
So it's Saturday now and we've been talking every single day and we were about to have our first date . My ex-husband was supposed to take the kids and have them overnight but he was running late. When you're running late your anxieties are high and your fuse is short so he came and he was trying to put the stuff in the car and he was yelling at the kids because he's stressed out and finally, he gets my son in the car and he leaves with my daughter standing on the front steps. I called him, and I'm like, “What's wrong with you? You have two children and just left one behind.” I was devastated for my daughter. I was devastated that this was where we were in our relationship that something like this could happen, that I was constantly picking up the slack for him.
My best friend who lives around the corner ended up taking my daughter for a sleepover so she was happy and didn't feel any negative effects of her dad but any chance of going out for dinner for our date was flushed down the toilet. I picked up dinner for us and I brought it up to his house and it just felt like the complete polar opposite of anything that I'd ever experienced before, especially in my marriage. It was the worst night I could have ever imagined but I had never felt as safe and secure as I had with him.
Our relationship kind of just went on from there. As time went on, our kids would have playdates so there was no drama about how to introduce the kids. We told the kids within the next few months that we were dating and they took it pretty well.
We started hanging out and doing things together with the kids. Eventually, we moved into a situation where he essentially moved in with us when he didn't have his kids. We planned our first trip - we were going to go away for March break - and then COVID hit. At that point, we said to each other, if we don't pod now, we're going to end up in a situation where either we're going to be quarantined from each other or we're not going to feel comfortable seeing each other. So COVID really forced us to bring our families together. Schools were closed, there was nowhere to go, so we started living in both houses. He lived with us when he didn't have his kids and then when he did have his kids, me and my kids went and stayed there. We lived like that for about a year but as time went on, it started to wear on me and on the kids.
We looked for a house together for about a year and in the end we decided to tear down my house and move everyone there. We blended our families which is not an easy thing to do. It is. It is not like you blend and then you're good. It is a long process, there are a lot of emotions, a lot of feelings and a lot of different people to manage. We're now a family of six. We've got two boys and two girls and everyone has different needs that have to be managed on top of our own.
It was my birthday in November and we had said that on Friday night we were going to have cake and everyone would Facetime in and sing and blow out the candles. I came home Friday and I was washing the dishes and he went upstairs to talk to the kids. They would put on these concerts all the time so I figured they were putting together something for my birthday. I went upstairs and they told me they made a dance for me. They put on this whole thing and then they turned off the lights which I assumed was so we could do the cake.
I turned around and he was down on one knee proposing to me. It was so nice and it was so special and it was just very us. The kids were a part of it and the house was loud and crazy. He had said to me at the time, “I could have proposed to you tomorrow night when we have no kids around but that's not our life. This is our life.”
And that was it. I never once ever questioned that I would be with anyone other than him and never needed a ring or a wedding to get to know that. But for our kids? It was a really, really big deal. It was very clear that it was no longer about us. It was about these four children who thought that they were secure in their families and their parents' marriages and now needed more from us to show them that this was really a forever thing. There was a huge shift in all of their attitudes and how they looked at us and how they felt about everything. They really needed that security of knowing that this was the real deal.
So now we're engaged and we're building a house. I always say that I feel truly, truly lucky that we bumped into each other in that airport. And I am now in a relationship with the person that I have no doubt I was supposed to be with and get to live out this life. I made the decision because it was the right decision for me and my kids. That is why I got divorced. End of story. I felt comfortable knowing that if I was going to live my life, just me and my kids. That things would work out the way they were supposed to, and I feel very blessed to be where I am now.