She told him their marriage was over, but that wasn’t the worst of it.
We weren’t love struck twenty-something newlyweds anymore—newlyweds that were madly in love with lesser responsibilities. We had been through the ups and downs, and had been together for over thirteen years—married for seven years.
We were well versed in married life, along with the in’s and out’s of raising a family with two girls. We had recently bought a house and moved back near the neighborhood my then wife had grown up in. We had high hopes just like any young family, we envisioned raising our kids in that new home for years to come.
Yes, we had a plan. My wife at the time would graduate online school and then she would find a job to ease the economic strain of me changing careers. We needed a solution and a better overall family life because my job wasn’t the best fit anymore.
With potential pay cuts looming, associated with my career transition, she would have to find work and help shoulder the economic weight. Early on, I loved my job for all that it provided and blessed us with, but as years passed and family discord grew, I had slowly grown to despise the job I’d once loved.
My road construction leadership responsibilities demanded I be on call more times than not, and the strain it put on my health and marriage wasn’t for the best.
As the sole breadwinner and provider, I felt the added stress to work long hours to make sure the mortgage, private school tuition, and family living expenses were all covered. This further led to greater disconnect with my family, and unhappiness grew in the midst of this disconnect.
As years mounted with no resolve, and contempt growing at an all-time high—in an attempt to stop further discontent—I promised my family that things would be better as soon as I’d change careers.
Except by this day, things were already at a point of no return, but I didn’t know it yet. I didn’t know what else was going on behind my back.
Until the day she would finally confess and utter the words no spouse wants to hear, she found the courage to tell me what I had already suspected, “I’m seeing someone…” What would follow would devastate me for months, and change the course of our lives forever.
She finally told me ever so hesitantly, “there’s more…” I thought for a second and said, “I’m sure whatever it is, we can figure it out.”
She finally confessed what had been weighing on her heart and soul, and she couldn’t bare it any longer, “I’m sorry, I’m pregnant… and it’s not yours.”
My heart stopped, and my soul jumped all at once. I quickly ran outside to make sure my heart and soul were still in one piece. In my socks, I inhaled the cold air outside, breathing ever so deeply. I looked up to the heavens and proclaimed, “This will not defeat me.”
I took a moment to digest what I just heard and thought to myself, “was this happening to me?” I thought I was stuck in a sinister nightmare meant to destroy my family.
I went back to the house and blindly vowed to make it work, even with this new revelation. (Looking back I was blinded by martyrdom) Unfortunately, the living nightmare would only intensify with each waking moment and passing day.
Now I had suspected infidelity. We get a sixth sense when we’re being cheated on, but this shock wave of a revelation rattled my soul for weeks to follow, and I would continue to spiral into a deep depression of despair.
I’d reach a point where I didn’t know who to turn to for help because everyone I spoke to couldn’t relate to what I was completely going through.
The days and weeks to follow would further reveal her false intentions again and again to try and make our marriage work. She didn’t want to make the marriage work because she wasn’t in love with me anymore.
For months, I was tormented with grief and anger, and I fell into the deepest valley of depression in my life. I would imprison myself and soul search for any conceivable truth in deep prayer.
Finally one day, I would snap out of the emotional and mental despair that had imprisoned me, and awaken to see the walls that had grown out of this traumatic situation that had me caged in.
The internal battle would be won when these two factors were overcome:
1. Overcoming paralysis by analysis
I realized time was wasting, and I needed the right push in the proper direction out of limbo, where nothing was growing and going anywhere.
My heart needed to realize when to allow the mind to walk away finally and let go of fixing the unfixable—a final decision had to be made.
The longer I stayed and made futile attempt, the harder it would be for my heart and mind to break free from the paralysis by analysis.
The confused feelings would only get worse if I didn’t break this pattern. Something had to wake me up, and it was going to be a conversation I had with a friend. (I share below.)
2. Finding a way to elevate my view
Changing perspective from being in the moment with emotions and logic, to asking myself: “In 10 years from now, can I see happiness in my life if I choose to stay on this path today?”
Realizing that I couldn’t see true happiness whatsoever down the path and that my answer was no, I could not see my happiness in that situation.
I’d be able to make a better choice, and I wouldn’t be happy. I’d be wasting more time, and going through more heartache and pain. It just wasn’t going to work, period. I knew I needed to find the happiness that I deserved, and that search was not going to begin in ten years.
It was going to begin once I had my sanity back because I was going crazy inside that house, and that wasn’t the home I grew to build and love anymore.
My home was destroyed, and I had to move forward and be okay with being a co-parent—a happy father to my daughters—and not a miserable father bitter and unhappy.
I’ve learned that an unhappy person can’t give that which they do not possess, which is love and happiness. So, I chose to find my happiness and give to my daughters the love they deserve, along with being there for them no matter who steps in to attempt to take my place. No one can take my place as a father, unless I allow it.
The day I knew my marriage was over: The day came where I would awaken from the slumber of despair and guilt.
Unknowingly a good friend helped broke me out of the hell I was experiencing, and helped me decide to finally take the first step into my new life.
During one of our many phone conversations listening to me ramble on and on, as I was confused, heartbroken and uncertain of what I should do next, he finally said to me, “Look… Okay, I understand you don’t know if you should stay or leave… So would you rather be divorced now, or in ten years?”
I paused from the lighting bolt that had just jolted me. What he said made me stop and think deep about what I would lose by staying, and that was more time.
Time getting my life back together on my own, time with someone who might be a better fit for me, but most of all time I would lose being miserable and in pain settling for less than I deserved. I don’t have to sacrifice my happiness and the rest of my life for something less deserving, I realized.
I pondered his question and similar questions for the next two days. It unequivocally didn’t make sense to waste anymore time, because I knew my marriage wasn’t going to work and I’d be completely miserable.
It was time to pack up and leave the house. It wasn’t my home anymore, and it wasn’t what I had envisioned for my happiness and sanity.
I felt relieved to finally be okay with leaving—it was long over due. I woke up to my personal freedom the next day, in a new place and began the search for my sanity and my happiness.
Happiness and better days would all come faster than I imagined. Through it all, I tried to see things with optimistic eyes, but now and again we have to walk away for our own health’s sake, and find happiness once again.
We can go through the worst and see it as, “my life is over”, and stay a victim, or we can experience the worst and be thankful for the will of strength it’s given us to persevere and march on.
Because in the end, as long as we keep growing and going, we’ll be the hero of our story.
Flickr/ Leland Francisco