If you had asked me 2 years, or a year and a half ago, where I thought my marriage would be today, I would have probably told you that there wouldn’t be a marriage. Things between my husband and I were laughably bad.
Things were…truly horrific. We all know that I am a loyalist to a fault, and I’d rather literally die than leave somebody…but I actually considered a life without him at one point.
When I think of where we were, and where we are now, I often wonder why. I wonder why it got SO bad to begin with, and I wonder why it’s so much better now?
Was it me? Was it him? Does it matter?
We are where we are today I think because we both wanted to be here. We both wanted to get to this place again, to come together and love each other, and we both put the work in to get here.
When I say things were bad…I mean…they were ugly. And it isn’t a place I enjoy revisiting or thinking about.
We would fight nearly every night, about I don’t even know the fuck what, until 1 or 2 in the morning. I’d try to resolve it immediately, right then and there, but he was shut down, resistant, and it went nowhere. Some nights it was so bad that I ended up sleeping on the bathroom floor instead of our bed.
I never wanted that, but I just felt so awful, and honestly? I hoped that he would see how badly I hurt, how much pain he caused me, and come get me and tell me he wanted me to come back.
Of course I was never really alone though. I had my numerous bottles of alcohol with me, and that liquor ran through my veins like my fucking life depended on it. And let’s be real, at that point, I was so physically bound to the demands of alcohol, that it probably did.
It would be the same cycle every day. We’d fight over something nearly every night, go to bed feeling like shit, I’d wake up nervous around him, he pretended, or tried, to love me but I knew he was lying, I called him out for lying about it, we’d fight again, I’d more or less beg him to love me, he would try to, I’d be on edge, he’d stop trying…the cycle was fucking toxic. And exhausting.
I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but slowly but surely, that cycle stopped. We went to therapy together (my therapist, not couples therapy), we listened to each other, began communicating differently (effectively), and started loving each other again. But for real.
It took me a long time to trust him again, and I’m sure it took him some time to trust me again too. There are still some days where he’ll be in a bad mood, and I’ll get that paralyzed with fear feeling that things will become bad again, but I know I have to work through those feelings.
We’ve been married for 6 and a half years, and comparatively, we only spent a short window of time in that toxic place.
Things are NOT perfect between us now. No marriage is perfect. But the difference is that we’ve put the work in. We’ve agreed to listen to and love each other. And we starting choosing each other. A big problem for me was that it always felt like a competition between me and the kids with him. It felt like he never put us first, our relationship first. And I saw that as a problem.
In a world where I’m the primary caregiver for my sons every single day, I needed to feel loved and chosen by someone. I wanted to set the example for my children of what a healthy, functional, loving relationship looked like. And I felt like he was prioritizing them instead of our marriage. Which in turn, really only ever hurt them.
You might not understand this completely, but in my opinion, for a family unit with 2 adult partners that are in a relationship to be successful, you HAVE to put your partner first, your marriage first. Once we began doing that again, things started healing. And improving.
Therapy, choosing each other, listening, learning to love each other again…all of those were factors in us getting back on the right path.
Choosing him over alcohol, while not yet totally sober (before I got pregnant) helped a lot. Of course, once things got easier between us, it was a lot easier to drink less too. I didn’t have to self medicate as much. I started self harming less because I was getting the love I needed, instead of having those empty, painful feelings.
Things are a lot better between us now, probably better than they ever have been. And while I’ll always be grateful for every good day, I still do live in fear of the past, and the potential for things to be bad like that again. I honestly don’t think things will ever be that way again, but it’s still a trigger and a trauma response for me, the fear of it repeating.
Now, I believe him (usually) when he tells me that he loves me. We allow each other to have the space that we sometimes need without fear of setting the other person off. We are more confident in our love and our communication, and we trust that if we do have an off day, it’s simply just that. And it isn’t the end of the world.
Marriage is a lot of hard work. All relationships are…and maybe in another few months, I’ll be able to write a post like this about my (now somewhat tense) therapy relationship.
But I do believe that (most) relationships have the power to heal, if you REALLY want them to, and everyone involved puts the work in.
That is absolutely not to say that every relationship should heal and stay together…some need to end, and healing needs to begin after that. And I’ve been in those relationships too.
But for me, in this case, I know my marriage is strong. I trust him, and I feel confident in us and in our story.
The work we put in was worth it, and I’m grateful to and for him.
When we are strong, I feel strong. And while that honestly isn’t ideal…at least I can draw strength from somewhere, while I continue to work on myself.
And working on myself will be a never ending process. Just like working on our relationship. It will always take work.
But it’s the kind of work that’s worth it.