My Husband and I Almost Divorced. This is How We Fell Back in Love.

Many years ago on our way to a family reunion in our tiny shell of a 1986 Ford pick-up, with no such luxury of a radio, CD player, cell phone, or digital device of any kind, my husband and I opted to discuss various topics from a family magazine we frequented.  Perhaps, because I was huge pregnant {just a matter of 6 weeks to delivery} and feeling extra hormonal, or maybe because I relished in the precious moments of quiet, where we were forced to converse without any interruptions of work, church, school, or anything from our then college life that I thought “was so busy” {Did I mention that we did not have ANY kids yet?}—whatever the reason, I chose to talk to my husband about our relationship.

I wanted to know where we stood and what we could do to improve and become closer.  As I perused the magazine, I came across an interesting article. The title was something along the lines of “Falling Back in Love with Your Spouse.”

Ryan, of course, immediately balked at the existence of such an article.  No way did that apply to us in any way, shape, or form. We were madly in love, with an envied marriage, and we were obviously immune to such issues.

Fast forward about eight years, the death of a daughter, medical bills piled high above our means, two special needs children, fertility issues, depression, and the disillusionment of life :: the memory of this article sent haunting chills through our minds, beckoning to us, as we flirted with the sirens of divorce.

At that moment, we recognized we were at a crossroads.  

We felt so bogged down by the stress in our life. One of our sons had recently been diagnosed with autism and we didn’t really know how to help him.  Our other son struggled with his own cocktail of emotional problems. Each of us was running on little to no sleep, grasping at straws to know how we would pay the insurmountable mountain of medical bills.  The fabric of our lives had begun to unravel and we were not the best version of ourselves. The higher the stress, the more we isolated ourselves and grew apart. Conversations became far and few between, and if they did take place, they were yelling and fighting words.

How did we go from love-crazed individuals that could not be in the same room without touching each other to these numb, suffocated strangers, dwelling in the same house, who googled divorce attorneys?

That was the other thing…our conversations began to end on the note of, “If you do this, I’m divorcing you…” or “That’s grounds for divorce.”  At one point, we opted for a short separation. I resolved that we weren’t going to make it after all. It was too hard. We were not enough. It would be easier alone.  We would succumb to the “d” word.

At that same time, we began seeking counseling individually.  It was apparent that we were each at our lowest lows. We needed guidance and direction.  While we sought spiritual strength at church and attempted to bask in the light of good things, we weren’t really letting that seep into our hearts.  Forgiveness worked for everyone else, except for us. Other people could make it, except for us.

One day my counselor said, “Keri, let’s go over the steps of forgiveness.”  To this day, he does not recall hearing himself say any of these things. I heard, “When are you going to let go and forgive him for your hurt?”

Another dear friend commented, “It’s time to make a decision.  Either split the sheets and move on, or choose the covenants you made at marriage.  Either way, make a choice. Stop living in limbo.”

These two conversations proved life-changing for me.

It took a lot of thought, personal reflection, and prayer.  I had to search my soul and my heart. Forgiving and saying sorry for my part meant letting go and being vulnerable.  It meant we had an uphill climb and it might take a really long time to repair the damage.

I called my husband and told him my decision.  

I told him I was choosing our covenants and our marriage.  I asked him to give me his answer.

Obviously, we forged onward and chose to stay together :: we’ve now been married for almost 16 years.  The year that followed that decision felt like we were starting all over. I would caution to say that it tried us possibly the most we’ve ever experienced.  We attended counseling on our own and together, and would have set backs, and then, keep working at it.

I have tucked away a few gems from that experience.  I don’t care to go back and relive that hellacious year; however, I feel like there are probably many others waging that same battle. I am in no way saying that divorce is never the answer, because there are definite reasons to separate. On the other hand, I feel like it might have helped me had I known someone else felt my pain.  That was a really lonely year, filled with grief and darkness. Perhaps, my sharing this experience will shed light and lend empathy to someone else struggling.

My Husband and I Almost Divorced. This is How We Fell Back in Love | Houston Moms BlogI believe in marriage. 

Couples really can love each other in a monogamous relationship, pledging their fidelity and being each other’s helpmeet.  And you can fall back in love again. Here are a few nuggets for thought ::

  1. Communication—This is probably my biggest improvement, but also my weakest strength.  Talk. Talk about your day and his day and listen. Listen to the other spouse’s worries.  Listen for things they mention they like. Listen for the writing in between the lines. Set aside a period of time every day to discuss plans, feelings, desires, wants, needs, everything.  If you’re discussing and sharing each day, you will be aware of each other’s lives.
  2. Spend ALONE time every day and every week.  Ryan and I love to sit and chat after our kids go to bed.  Some nights, it’s only 10 minutes, because our lives are out-of-control busy, but we make time every night. We do a date every week. Some weeks, that means going to a nice dinner, dressed in non-work/non-Mom clothes.  Other weeks that means a home date, cuddling on the couch to watch a movie. Date each other. Your children can do without you for two hours a week.  You need this time alone.
  3. Get Physical.  One of the major causes of divorce is intimacy.  Find your groove together and figure out what you each like and expect.  Communicate that with your spouse. We take inventory of our relationship overall on a regular basis.  One of those discussions is about our sex life. What’s working, what’s not, what has changed, what is expected.  Honesty and transparency alleviate so much stress.
  4. Set Rules and Boundaries.  We have a rule that there is no name-calling of each other.  We do not argue in front of our kids and we back each other up in parenting.  He has to sleep on the side closest to the door to protect me {even in hotels}.  We hold hands during our dinner prayer and always kiss after. We consult with one another on purchases over a certain dollar amount.  He saves the green M&M’s for me, and he’s not allowed to touch my feet. Find out what your rules are and stay within those boundaries.
  5. Set Goals.  Your kids are going to grow up and move away.  You will be left in your home with your spouse, just as you were before the babies came.  Set goals of what you want to accomplish together. Set them for a month, six months, one year, five years, etc.
  6. Work Together.  Whether it’s sharing the house work, beautifying your yard, or creating a piece of art work together, do something that unites you in purpose.  We have found that working together strengthens us.
  7. Pause.  Be disciplined enough to bridal your tongue.  Have the emotional maturity to wait and ponder your words, before lashing out rashly or speaking in the heat of the moment.  
  8. Spiritual Strength.  Find out what your beliefs are and practice them together.  This also elicits one-ness.
  9. Ask for Help.  The strongest people need help.  Seek out counseling and journals.  Talk to professionals. Read books.  Recognize there is a problem or some things that could use improvement, and then, follow through.
  10. Serve your Spouse.  When we’re struggling to get along and walking on egg shells around each other, it’s usually, because I am mostly thinking of myself or putting everyone else above my husband.  Create a habit of asking yourself every day, “What can I do for my spouse today?”

We are living proof that you can survive the storms of life and you can fall back in love.  

The only thing constant in your life is change. Choose to struggle through those changes together.  Thomas S. Monson said, “Choose who you love and love the one you choose. Choose that when someone comes along that seems a little bit shinier, that you are going to stick around and be faithful.  Choose fidelity. Choose to say kind words and to say sorry. Refrain from punishing, threatening, or hurting. Employ goodness and nurture your relationship.

I don’t think we stumbled upon that article that many years ago, early in our marriage by accident.  It caused reflection. It imprinted in our minds the possibility of something we’d never considered. We didn’t know about that side of marriage and we didn’t know that we didn’t know.  How grateful I am for the experiences we’ve had. It’s caused our roots to grow deeper and stronger. I look forward to falling in love more and more with my husband as the years move forward.  Cheers to healthy, long-lasting marriages! They can exist this day and age.

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2 Responses to My Husband and I Almost Divorced. This is How We Fell Back in Love.

  1. Alissa April 26, 2018 at 8:43 am #

    I love this! Thank you for sharing, Keri!

  2. Christina Ivery April 27, 2018 at 11:32 am #

    I do not know you, but as I am reading this i want to scream “someone understands.” Thank you for the suggestions. Looking forward to seeing more from you.

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