A lot of people think marriage is about trust, but I always said it’s about forgiveness and sacrifice. I am learning through my marriage how right I was with that, at least for me.
I have many things I could complain about my husband worthy of walking out that door:
- He proposed to an ex girl friend
- He almost cheated on me
- When the kids were babies and toddlers, he didn’t help out at all, not even when I was dying from sleep deprivation and malnutrition (migraines plus vomiting) trying to keep up.
- He wouldn’t let me sleep for about 7 years
- One time he cooked dinner for the family and wouldn’t let me have any (story told in Clash of the Couples)
- My sister-in-law punched me in the face for no good reason, and he didn’t care
- He lies a lot
- He spends money behind my back
But he, too, could make a list just the same.
- I am now officially crazy in ways that would qualify my marriage for an annulment
- The house is always a mess now.
- I don’t cook anymore, not like I used to.
- I spend more money not cooking, so he works hard to be broke all the time.
- He’s not getting laid anymore
- I talk down to him
- I rarely let him buy anything (we just can’t always afford it)
All of those things are much longer stories than I gave. If I tell you my story of what I have sacrificed and the pain I endured, I would be a pretty big victim. I was in a Facebook group for many years that was my safe haven to complain about personal things, and it was so bad, some of my friends left our group because I was always complaining but not planning to leave him. He, on the other hand, took to friends to talk about me where he was truly a huge victim, and they too told him to leave me.
The main thing is how we view each other now as a result:
I view my husband as another child I have to take care of. He does not love me, and he doesn’t care when I’m in pain. I need help with responsibilities, and he feels entitled to avoid responsibility like a child. I have to nag him for it like a mother.
My husband views me as the woman who ruined his life. When I met him, he was 19 years old, and I’m the reason he got married and had kids without living his 20’s. He wants freedom from responsibility.
Despite all these things in our past we need to forgive, and despite all these things haunting us just as hard as the negative energy that surrounds us, we are still together. The main reason we haven’t left each other is simply that we cannot afford it. We can barely handle one place of living, if we go to 2 places, we’d all make sacrifices like food.
After years of making long-term plans to separate, I am now afraid of it. My diagnosis is one that renders most people in long-term care facilities or homeless. Here I am, the matriarch of my family, raising 3 kids and still being the go-to person when family needs help. The only reason I’m not homeless, and the only reason I still have my kids with me, is my husband. I couldn’t ask any other man to take on my burdens with support and care simply because the only people responsible for the mess I am in is myself, and my husband as father to the children. While I feel like I’m facing this alone, I cannot face it alone.
We still talk about possible separation. My last conversation about the future was, “If this comes through and we don’t divorce, we can probably buy a house within 5 years.” All of our future plans entail a plan for if we divorce and a plan on if we stay together. The if-we-stay-together plans are all much more exciting and comfortable than the if-we-divorce plans, which has me leaning toward making this work because I want to give my kids that future.
I had asked my husband what he would do if we divorced. He said he would get an apartment, work, play video games, and take the kids when he could. I asked if there was another woman at all, and he swears there isn’t. I don’t care if there is. I can understand it. But, the point I made was that his life wouldn’t change at all in the slightest if we divorced. I don’t care if he cheats, but the only reason for us to divorce at this point would be if one of us found someone else and wanted to create a life with that person instead.
The only place one can find happiness is within. He won’t find it leaving me, and I won’t find it leaving him. Our problems will still haunt us everywhere we go, alone or together, until we deal with them.
During that conversation, my husband and I decided to give our marriage another try, yet again.
He is doing better with that time than I am. My problems are problems that if I could solve them, I would have already. His problems are problems that could be solved simply by deciding to treat me like a wife instead of the b-word ruining his life. He may not have been there for me all those years I needed someone really badly, but he is trying to be here for me now.
On top of it all, he has been taking care of my nephew who is without a father, which has been a big help to both me and my mother who have taken on responsibility for him. On top of it all, my husband rubs my feet almost every night. On top of it all, my husband actually helps clean a little despite being raised to believe that is not his responsibility at all.
We are slowly recovering from our bad marriage. We are slowly finding our happiness together instead of facing that search apart. That’s been the game changer. We decided to do this together. For 10 years we said, “This is your problem, deal with it,” but now we have accepted each other’s problems as OUR problem.
The solution is really forgiveness. We both have different memories of what happened and who is to blame for our problems. I really want him to see what all he has done. I don’t really want him to feel guilty, but I do on a deeper level as if his guilt and admittance will give me justice, but I know in the forefront of my brain where logic prevails that a confession will not give me justice. The only true justice in this world is forgiveness. I will never feel that closure until I forgive him and until I forgive myself. At some point, you just have to stop focusing on the problem and, instead, focus on the solution. Eyes facing forward, my husband and I need to let go of what was so that we can embrace what could be.
I know it sounds crazy after explaining a failed marriage that I feel blessed, but I do. I feel blessed that I am on a path to overcoming things nobody else overcomes, and I am blessed my husband is helping me. I am blessed he’s trying to find the patience to wait on me to figure this out.
In our attempt to stay together, we finally decided to be together.
Humor and Spiritual Writer and Graphic Artist, Michelle Grewe is Air Force Veteran, mother, and a human jungle gym. Published in 7 Books, Michelle’s art is featured in her coloring book designed for spirituality and mental health, From Dust to Essence. Websites who have featured her work include Popsugar Moms, Mamalode, and Blunt Moms. Her nonsense actually does make sense if you drink enough vodka and pray. Find her on michellegrewe.com.