A few years ago, Don and I were at a crossroad: do we remain married even though we didn’t like each other? It was not easy to live with this question hanging over my head nor was it pretty. The realization that we did not like each other was painful but we had no idea how to break from it.
One day, we decided to have a conversation about this heavy issue. This conversation was stressful to have, however, it was extremely necessary. Between alcoholism and an emotional affair, we were a mess.
After sitting in our bedroom for what seemed like hours, we decided that we would remain married for our kids’ sake and treat our marriage like a business partnership. To us, it was the logical thing to do. After all, we still had elementary school-aged kids and I was a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom. We were both very active in our church and we didn’t want people to know our business.
The turning point for us was when my younger brother found out his wife had an affair. He drove to our house from Atlanta with his two little girls in the back. The look on his face and the way he broke down in my arms when I opened the door to them was heartbreaking. I was devastated.
We stayed up with him all night. We ate, talked and cried until the sun came up. Don took off work to spend the day with my brother. When they finally returned, he told me we needed to talk. He told me how emotionally draining this was for my brother and how he did not want to experience that. We hugged, prayed and cried in the middle of our bedroom.
We made a list of all the good things we had together and why it was important for us to not only stay together but to like each other too. We talked about the drinking. We talked about the emotional affair and the ‘why?’ behind it. We talked about me withholding sex. We talked about his anger issues. We talked about our future. We cried some more. We made love. That day, we vowed to fight for our marriage.
We had quite a few questions to answer before we moved on, though:
- If we remained married, what did we want our marriage to look like?
- Did we want to put in the necessary work to ensure our marriage was pleasurable for the both of us, no matter what that work looked like?
- What sacrifices and changes did I need to make?
- What changes and sacrifices did he need to make?
- Did we want to go to counseling together, individually or both?
These were not easy conversations. We had to revisit some subjects rather frequently. Others we had to agree to come back to in a week or two. It was a serious emotional and spiritual journey because change is difficult, especially when you are 13 years in it. We had to dig deep and put in the work, even when we did not want to.
Fighting for a marriage after your friends have heard you complain about your spouse for years is tough. I decided to attend my own counseling sessions and gradually changed my circle of friends.
I struggled a lot because I complained about Don for so many years. When I got around certain friends, complaints seemed to just roll out my mouth without me thinking about it. I had one friend that I asked to check me when I started going in that direction. You know, she took that role very serious too. I had to get clear with a few folks, including my mother, that they were not allowed to say negative things about my husband anymore.
Trust and believe, I had an internal battle and had to really pray to change the way I spoke to my husband. I was rude, abrasive and downright, disrespectful. I had to even dig deep to understand my husband’s sexual needs. For years, I downplayed the importance of sex and told him I was not his sex object. Finally, I came to the realization that it is a form of intimacy that goes deeper than talking.
If you are at a crossroad right now, I request that you ask yourself if your marriage is as bad as you perceive it to be. Most likely it’s not. I pray that you begin the journey of fighting for your marriage, even if you don’t want to. It was the best decision I could have made for not only me but for my husband and my children too.