“I don’t love you, and I haven’t for a long time. I don’t think we should be together.” Words I never imagined hearing from my husband, much less a little over a month before our third son was due. We had a plan. I knew we were both stressed; that we were fighting more than normal, but I never thought things were that bad.
I was a good mom, I kept up with everything at the house, and I always made sure dinner was prepared when he got home. We weren’t great, but we were okay. I spent the next few weeks begging for forgiveness. “Don’t do this! Don’t separate our family! We love each other; we can get through this!” After a few weeks, he agreed we could try, but he needed space to figure things out.
Space and a woman who’s 36-weeks pregnant are not two things that go hand in hand. At least, they weren’t for me. I needed him. I needed support, help, and reassurance. Little did I know, all of the things I needed were exactly what was pushing my husband farther away. I was building an even larger wall between us.
I went into labor at 38 weeks. My other deliveries were so intimate and personal. He was beyond present and attentive. I had my full confirmation that we were done when I delivered our third son. My husband never had to say a word. I just knew.
Looking back on my son’s birth, it is still gut-wrenching to recall. Every feeling and emotion is still so tangible. It will always be a bittersweet memory for me. Wonderful in the sense that I had my dream delivery with my son and saddening because, at that moment, I knew my marriage was over. I tried to tell myself I was overreacting and it was all in my head. After all, I had tons of hormones racing through my postpartum body. I knew the truth though. He was done, and things were over.
Looking back, I think I gave up that day too.
The next few weeks were a blur. Lots of sleepless nights, needy toddlers who weren’t thrilled to be losing all of their attention, and a newborn who nursed around the clock. My husband’s new sleeping arrangement became the couch. I stopped asking him to come to bed and cried almost constantly. My mom came to meet her newest grandson, and while she was visiting, my husband confirmed my fear. He told me that he would always love me, but he was done; that seeing me in pain during labor didn’t even phase him and he knew it was because he wasn’t “in love with me anymore.” My mom’s stay quickly turned into a trip of helping pack up her daughter and grandkids and moving us into our new home.
My boys are what kept me going when I felt like nothing else could. I was a mess. I moved into a home that my family had with no job, no money, and my three boys who were ages four, two, and two weeks old. Thank goodness for my supportive family and an amazing church family who was my rock!
Most of the next few months flew by. When my youngest was four weeks old, I found amazing people to help care for my babies while I went back to work full-time. We found refuge in being at church whenever the doors were open. I met with a lawyer to see what my options were, and I tried to be civil with my husband when he came to visit the boys. At this point, it wasn’t very often which was hard for them but honestly, so much easier for me. Seeing him shook me to my core every time. My attorney advised me to file for divorce and get things rolling. I wasn’t ready for that though. I still believed this man I married was my soulmate. I couldn’t divorce him. We could work through this.
Months passed, and aside from my begging, we didn’t get back together. My husband still needed time. He wasn’t sure what he wanted. My sadness and fear began to turn into anger and hatred. But still, my deepest thoughts were for my marriage to be saved and my family to be whole again.
Time passed and things didn’t get better, but I did.
I stopped crying and being sad. I am not sure when this happened, but I just know it did. I began to do things I enjoyed again. Working out, art, reading, taking time for myself, traveling some, and spending time with my friends. One day it clicked; I had lost myself.
I was so focused on my husband and our kids that I stopped caring about myself. How could someone else love me if I didn’t love myself? Why would he want too?
Here I was for months blaming him for our separation, and I finally realized that I was to blame also. I know people change the longer they are together, but I had lost my core person. I was so different from the person he married. No longer did I joke around, laugh, or smile. It was always all about what I had to do. I nagged more than we talked, and on the off-chance we had sex, it was just a chore. There was no passion, no connection, no desire. If he complimented me, I refused to hear it. “I wish I were beautiful, but I am too fat.” The compliments stopped coming with time.
Ladies, listen to me; I am not saying he didn’t do some huge wrongs here. He did! I still struggle with them almost three years later. What I want to point out is that I realized I played an enormous part in what went wrong. The crazy thing is that when I came to terms with these things, I let go of so much hurt that I had been holding on to. As I did more for myself, I became a better mother because I was finding my happiness again. When my husband came to get the boys for a weekend visit, we would laugh, smile, and joke around. It was uncomfortable and weird at times.
Figuring out how to do things while we were “separated” wasn’t something either of us knew how to do. However, neither of us were completely ready to call it quits and sign for divorce. Some days were harder than others, and I would never say we did anything right or even in a traditional way. He lived and worked two hours away and had his own apartment. We both attempted to date after almost eight months had gone by, but nothing felt right. As more time passed and I continued to find and follow what made me happy, we got along more and more. His time with the kids turned into us all hanging out: dinners, swimming trips, and family holidays. We started talking more.
Then we began to text and flirt.
I don’t think we realized it at the time, but we started dating each other again. Missing each other. Longing for each other. It all slowly began to feel right once more. After almost a year separated, we began to talk about getting back together and working on things. He started coming back to church with us. He would stay as long as he could to spend as much time as he could with the boys and me until he had to go back to work.
I don’t want to say things got better overnight because they didn’t. It took us both working on ourselves and grasping for what we needed and wanted. Thankfully for us, that was each other. I know not everyone’s story works out this way, and I have no idea where our story will end up. There are days I still have doubts and fears. The main thing is that I remember to take each day one step at a time. Because no matter how things end up, I know it always turns out how is supposed to. I am just glad we didn’t give up on each other then. I’m thankful that when I share our story, the ending of this chapter turned out to be a good one for us and our little family. The future is never known, but because of what we went through then I am stronger now.
Don’t miss a favorite episode from our podcast, This Grit and Grace Life: Is it Time for Counseling? A Therapist Helps You Decide (with Dr. Zoe Shaw) – 004.
You’ll also like 5 Things I’ve Learned in a Decade of Wifing, How I Find Time for Me (Even As a Mom), I Cheated: How Grace Changed My Marriage for Better, Marriage Advice That Will Change Things More Than You Think…, and Are You Grumpy or Just Neglecting Yourself?