It kind of changes things when you tell someone you’re close with that you’re leaving your husband. Maybe it doesn’t change things, but it certainly shows you how invested and in what ways a person is invested in you when you tell them a bit about what’s going on.
To be fair, no one really knew. It wasn’t supposed to be a big to-do or anything, keep things as normal as possible. Which means in the aftermath a lot of people around me were probably left going “But wait, what?” You see, I’ve made a very conscious effort to not write or speak ill of Cody or air our grievances for the world to see. It’s just how I operate and it works well, except when things go wrong — because that’s when people come back and say “But everything is going so well! You two seem like such a happy couple!” to which I say “HA HA! It worked then! I had you all fooled!”
Kidding. But in all honesty it is hard to come clean on something that is deep and ugly — be it marital struggles, an addiction, depression or some other foible.
What’s cool is there will be some people who will be all “Care to talk about it over burritos?” while other people will say some pretty stupid garbage that will show their true character more than it will say anything about your own.
It’s those people who don’t bat an eye (and then don’t betray your trust) that are worth holding onto. The ones with the judgmental opinions? Keep those guys at arms length, it’s not that they necessarily think you’re a bad person — they just maybe have a very narrow range of experience and opinions in life. (I’m learning this to be quite polarizing when it comes to church related relationships. The “clearly you’re not praying hard enough” people are just as active in regards to marital issues as they are with infertility and mental illness. Huzzah!)
I’ve learned I’m much more willing to take marital and relationship advice from friends and strangers alike because unlike parenting issues, there aren’t really “MARRIAGE WARS!” broadcast across the Internet in the same way the gag-inducing mommy wars are. I’ve learned most everyone takes their marriage, and it’s subsequent shortfalls and misgivings, much more personal than almost all parenting issues — which is why I’m more open to marital advice, there seems to be more hushed solidarity and strength when someone suggests a book or therapy rather than the demanding “THIS IS HOW I DID IT AND MY WAY WAS RIGHT AND I’M RIGHT AND WOE BE UNTO THOSE WHO DO NOT DO THINGS MY WAY” attitude some people can have with parenting.
First off is the Five Love Languages, we received it as a wedding gift and I read it immediately. I suggested that Cody read it early on in our marriage but being Cody, he didn’t. This is one book that both partners need to read for it to really make sense. And I’m sorry, but you also have to do the silly quiz towards the back. It can make a huge difference in your relationship if used correctly. Cody read it last month and it’s as though the sky parted and the angels sang for both of us.
Second is Hold Me Tight, a book that was suggested by several people, and people? THANK YOU. You know the attachment parenting theory that some parents are so willing to heap upon others? This book argues that attachment bonds, much like those between parent and child, are just as important (if not more important) in an adult relationship as they are to children. But what are we told? “You’re an adult, grow up and deal with your own problems.” If you yell at your spouse because yelling has become the only way to get their attention — or have taken to not talking to them because not talking is so much easier than feeling emotions? THIS BOOK.
In summary, going through marital issues has been SO. MUCH. HARDER. emotionally and mentally than anything I’ve had to deal with in regards to parenting, from infertility to present day. BUT, it seems easier to map out and stick to a long term course of healing because we are two grown adults who ultimately want the same thing. (If one or the other of us was one foot out the door? I would be in an entirely different head space than I am right now.)
One of the first mistakes I made was turning my heart and mind off to Cody when what I should have done was turn to him and say “Hey, I’m not happy.” The second (and very important part) of this is that I needed to trust that he would listen to me (which was hard for me because five years ago he didn’t listen until I threatened to leave.)
Trust, vitally important yet wickedly scary stuff.