Lucky number thirteen. That was the anniversary I was “celebrating” when I heard those words. My husband, however was not celebrating. He was escaping. He was looking for a spark, an ember, some sort of storybook romance that just doesn’t seem to burn as hot after thirteen years of marriage, two kids, and a mortgage. Well, not when it’s not fostered. And that’s where we were.
Scott and I were doing life together. We were great friends. We had a good partnership – as in, I cook the dinner, he cleans the dishes. I run the kids around and manage their activities, he works outside the home and pays for everything. Sometimes we spend “alone” time – in front of the TV, or out to dinner and a movie – when we weren’t exhausted from this mechanical routine built on complacency and obligation. NOT how a marriage should work. But still, I wasn’t expecting those words. And especially not on my anniversary.
My immediate reaction was to argue and say “Of course we had IT. We just need to remember what we did with IT and bring IT back.” He was not so convinced. And so began our separation. That night. An awful way to end an anniversary evening. In bed. Alone. With a box of Kleenex. Or three.
There were lots of tears through those next several weeks. There was a lot of anger, resentment, rude words, hurtful confessions and ultimately, blame. I blamed him for everything falling apart. After all, he was the one who brought it all up, right? Wrong. I was equally to blame. An ugly realization.
I had taken him for granted. We were married. Committed. For life. Although, when that mentality sinks in the way it did for me then, I realized that meant that I still had LOTS of work to do. On myself – the only one of us I had control over. I read lots of self-help books: Codependent No More, Boundaries, my Bible. I saw a fantastic counselor. I worked on me. It was eye-opening.
Weeks after spending time apart, which was so hard, especially during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, I had resigned myself to the fact that our marriage was over and I started accepting it. My husband however, did not. He finally saw what a wonderful gift we had and how fragile our relationship was. He understood that we both had work to do and made the commitment to do the work WITH me.
That was over two years ago and we work really hard to never let ourselves get to that place. We have date nights. A lot. Sometimes we go out, without the kids, sometimes we stay in, and have our date night after the kids are in bed. And sometimes we have family date nights. We communicate often. The TV goes off, the conversation begins. Funny how that works. We say “No.” A lot. To friends, family and our kids. We have decided to put our relationship with God and each other above all others. Even our kids. That was tough. Our time together now is sacred and we guard it. We share intentional, relationship-building moments. We have built intimacy through these intentional moments. And that’s where IT comes from. Finally, we have IT back. And IT is better than ever before.