When I was younger, I had the same fantasy that most girls have. Grow up, get married, have babies, live happily ever after. Then in my late teens and early twenties, I wondered if that is what I wanted out of life. I wanted a companion but not someone who would cramp my style, and I was not even sure that I wanted to be a parent anymore.
I resigned my fate to be an old lady with some eccentric behavior, which would not be collecting cats, but some other quirky thing. I was going to be the cool aunt who spoiled my nieces and nephews but never had any children of my own. A few people in my hometown asked if I was a lesbian, since I was not yet married. The joy of small-town living.
I met my husband at work. We were both working for a home improvement store; we were hired from the start and helped to build the store from the concrete up. We did a lot of partying and had many late nights in those days. We didn’t have a care in the world except working and drinking. It was a carefree romance, and we spent every minute together when we were not working, which was not much time.
We moved in together three months after our first date and were engaged three months later. A year later and we were married and shortly after, pregnant for the first time. We had lived together for over a year and at that point, I just saw our marriage ceremony as a formality and a piece of paper to sign. That was my first mistake.
We lived together, shared a house, bills, etc., but that piece of paper changed him. Our vows made me his property and something that he was going to control and maintain. When we were married, I was smothered with control—where are you going, who are you going out with? I responded by rebelling, staying out all night, not returning phone calls, and excessive drinking. We were on our way to a party in October and I felt awful. He suggested that I was pregnant, but I was sure it was not that. Turns out we were pregnant with our first baby.
This baby was a wake-up call for me to settle down and be a housewife. We were excited for the baby and had a renewed interest in our marriage. We shared with our family and friends that we were expecting and then the unimaginable happened; in early January, we lost the baby.
At that point, I thought the miscarriage saved our marriage. It made me think about what I wanted out of life and whom I wanted to experience that with. Shortly after, we were expecting our second baby (I was a fertile myrtle).
We experienced many things in those next few years. I quit my job, Jim lost his job, we lost a baby, sold a house, bought a house, moved away, had a couple of babies and dogs. We both changed jobs, I graduated from college, and we had money issues, just like any other couple does. We had our issues over the years, and money was a big thing.
The last 5 years of our marriage, I wanted out many times, though there is a lot of pressure to stay together. Both of our sets of parents got pregnant at a young age and then married, and they seemed to defy the odds, no matter what those were. Those are pretty big shoes to fill. There were also many people who said we would never make it, and that alone gave me the fuel I needed to prove to them that we were not just another statistic, we would make it work.
The last several years, our connection was non-existent. I could count on one hand the times that we had had sex in the last few YEARS. He slept in the living room and I slept in the bedroom. We were co-parenting roommates with little connection. We had done marriage counseling, and I had also had individual therapy. I started sleeping 10 to 12 hours a day, had migraines, stomach issues, and just a general lack of interest in anything other than the kids.
I woke up one day in September and told him I couldn’t live like that anymore. There are lyrics from a country song that stick in my head: “I don’t want good and I don’t want good enough”. I didn’t want a marriage that was just OK. I needed to move out on my own, to see what I was capable of. Part of the resistance to leave was a fear of failure.
Was I really capable of living on my own after all of these years? I moved out the first weekend in October, and it has not been an easy transition. Some days are easier than others. When I feel like giving up, I just try and remember what kind of a relationship I am looking for and working toward.
by Missy Latwesen