I remember the day I shut the door. I told my wife I didn’t want any more of my life wasted with her, and she was dragging me down. I was sick of living in misery and not feeling the support. It bothered me a bit when she cried, but when my kids cried, it hurt me. I kept walking. I walked to my truck, threw my bags in the back, and drove away.
You see, all my life, I was told marriage was forever. I was told when I took my vows it meant forever. I didn’t see the example of this in the lives of those around me. How was I supposed to make it work without knowing how?
We couldn’t get along. We didn’t talk. Sure, the sex was great, but, there was absolutely no relationship. Maybe I was wrong for leaving, in fact, I am sure I was. But, it was the most logical path I could see at the time.
I didn’t get up on this crisp January morning and say, “I think I will leave my family today.” No, rather, it was a process of both my wife and I killing our relationship. Here’s how I knew our marriage was dead.
1. We didn’t communicate. She would get pissed at me, and I would get irate at her when an event, an unpaid bill, or something else came along and the other didn’t know about it. “I told you about that!” she said. “No, you didn’t!” I replied. This was a common issue prior to me leaving. When I got off of work at 6 pm, the last thing I wanted was to be surprised with, “Hurry up, we have to meet (Insert a name) for supper. This has been planned for two weeks.” Two weeks? Really? Why am I just finding out about it now?
2. We spent more time with our phones than each other. Oh, I am sorry, did that one sting? Seriously. If the first thing you do after getting home is plop down on the couch like I did, you will have a closer relationship with your phone than you do with your spouse. We would literally have an argument at bedtime, “Why are you on your phone?” I asked. “I am trying to get caught up on social media. Just seeing what I missed today.” My thought was, what about me? What about getting caught up on what I have to say? These things always start small, like using them at the dinner table, or interrupting a conversation with her to take a call.
3. She wasn’t my priority. I would go eat a meal with friends or other family and not think twice about her. I really, really sucked as a husband. There is a familiar phrase, though; it goes something like, “It takes two to tango.” While I want to and I am prepared to take all the responsibility for the relationship issues, I know it took the both of us to kill it.
We were very fortunate. I was the first to admit I was wrong, and she was willing to do whatever it took to enliven our relationship again. It began as us renewing our friendship with each other. From there, I pursued her like I did when we were dating. She became my priority in life again, yes, before my children.
I held the doors open for her, pulled the chair out for her, gave her options of whether to work or stay home. I provided for her, and more importantly, encouraged her to chase her dreams, whatever they were. Your marriage or relationship may be in a different state. You may be separated like we were.
You see, I was a horrible husband. We had a horrible marriage. I realized this fact and took drastic measures to change it. In the end, it was worth it for us. If you are quick to seek forgiveness, express interest in your spouse more than others or yourself, and be willing to let it all go, you will be positioned for greater changes.
While I can’t guarantee you success in your marriage, I can tell you if you give it all you have, you won’t leave with guilt. Don’t allow guilt and bitterness to hinder you from moving forward. If there’s a shot at reconciliation in your marriage, go all in. If you and your spouse want to make it last forever, you can make it last forever, only if you work at it and are willing to be the first to ask forgiveness.
Photo: Flickr/ Elizabeth Haslam