When I got married in 2003, it was the most thought-through and prayed-about decision of my life. I knew what I wanted and wanted to ensure I was doing it right. I knew what I was getting into. In addition to marrying my best friend, I was taking on his five kids, dealing with his ex-wife, a slew of unresolved emotional issues (haha, I had my own too), and fifteen years’ worth of hefty child support.
Initially, there were some rough moments, but we worked them out and grew closer. I grew to LOVE his girls, and they grew to love me too. I gave them my heart, and they became mine.
We had ups and downs from the get-go, but I focused on the UPs. I was all-in, and I gave it my all. This doesn’t mean I was perfectly agreeable to everything, but I was always 100% committed. I was committed to investing in both myself and my marriage. I was always striving for ways to improve and make both better.
Together we experienced a full range of life. For me, he turned on the music and brought color and fun back into my world. He challenged me, and occasionally, he was (sometimes immensely) challenging for me to deal with. And no doubt I was equally challenging to him! We had some hard times and A LOT of excellent times. I focused on the good times and continued to invest in him and our relationship. I was grateful for him and all he brought to the table.
Two years ago, I was slammed with a significant health challenge: a perforated bowel and off-the-charts sepsis, which resulted in four major abdominal surgeries, complication after complication, and a year and a half of doctor’s appointments and healing he was always physically there for me. He was a perfect caregiver—dutiful, caring, patient, attentive. Always close by when I needed him.
But as my body recovered, the romance we’d previously shared didn’t. We no longer had fun together, and when we spent time together, it was simply routine. Spontaneously joyful and tender moments were a thing of the past. The better I physically felt, the more he spent time away from me. Life became a process of going through the motions. When I complained about his lack of interest in me, he said things change. I did my best to entice him, but the spark wasn’t there anymore.
He continued to be dutiful, patient, and attentive, but the charming smile and sparkle in his eyes were gone. His expression was dull and flat more than not, and more and more, he spent time away from home. He replaced the words we and us, with me and I. And instead of talking about our plans for the future, he’d drop phrases like “one day you’re going to look up and realize I’m gone,” and “you’re going to have to figure this out because I’m not always going to be here to do it for you.”
I was frustrated with his lack of interest, but I dealt with it by focusing on improving myself and feeling and expressing even more love and gratitude for him. I hoped that if I turned myself into a better and brighter person, it would positively affect our marriage.
We spent time on a trip together last summer, and for a couple of weeks, it was good between us. Almost like old times, and I had HOPE! But soon after we got home, we were back in the same old lackluster boat.
There were signs that something was seriously wrong, and I saw them, but I believed we were going through a rough patch, and he was still in the game with me. I trusted he'd stick it out and keep working with me. He’d stayed by my side through the most challenging period of my life (not easy for him.), and I thought if I focused on improving myself, things between us would improve. I focused on the good times between us and continually expressed my love and gratitude for him.
One day I said something that upset him, and in an energetic voice, he said he was DONE with me. The next day another innocent comment turned into another pointless argument, and with grit and steeliness in his voice, he told me again that he was DONE. His expression and tone said he meant it. When I asked if he meant divorce done, he said, "yes. I’ve been done for a long time. It’s over."
It’s interesting how the body works. Mine immediately went into shock. My insides started tremoring, and tears ran out of my eyes and nose. I felt like I couldn’t get air, and at the same time, I felt like I was going to explode.
When did I ask him why what was going on? He said he’d been told to move forward. That he had something to do and he couldn’t do it with me in his life. He said he didn’t know all the details because they needed to unfold, but the first step was separating from me. He said he was going for his dreams and needed to “close out our relationship” to have what he wanted. He was confident and firm about that.
Nothing made any sense to me. His revelation was surreal and bizarre. It shook me to my core and caused shock waves that still haven’t completely subsided.
The best thing about the timing is we were in Hawaii, and being near that vast, beautiful ocean seemed to help absorb my initial and most painful waves of shock. During the next seventeen days we were there, I was busy absorbing and processing his news. We spent time with our daughter and her husband, and I put on a smiley face and truly enjoyed it. They had no idea anything was wrong, and I was grateful to have more good times together.
After we got back home, we got back into our same old routine. He gave me an outline of his plans for the day and sent me short polite texts asking if I needed anything. He texted to let me know when he was on his way home at night. He was always thoughtful, considerate, and distant.
For seven weeks, I processed through the emotion I felt as it came up, and (although I didn’t always succeed), I did my best to be gracious and pleasant. I sought to understand him and what he needed, and I tried to meet his wants and needs. I focused on every good thing he did for me, and I felt truly grateful. I latched onto every bit of warmth and encouragement he gave me. I prayed for a miracle that would turn his heart back towards me.
Instead of a miracle, I slowly gained acceptance that he was done with me. I could see that he cared about me and didn’t want to hurt me, but he had not been in love with me for quite a long time. His heart was romantically disconnected from me, and there was no turning back for him. A significant turning point seemed to be when I got sick; after that, it was never the same between us. I faced the fact that he had no intention of staying with me.
For me, acceptance came in stages. It involved many long hours spent in prayer and many sleepless nights. I allowed my feelings to come up. I felt sad, mad, confused, frustrated, abandoned, and betrayed. I acknowledged how I was feeling and prayerfully talked it out with my Savior. I turned to two favorite scriptures and drew massive strength from them.
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke unto you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~Matthew 11:28-30
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ~John 14:27
I take those heartwarming scriptures literally, and as I repeatedly turned my burdens over to Jesus Christ and surrendered what I couldn’t change or control, He filled my heart with His peace. He comforted and soothed my heart and gave me understanding. As the light was shed on the subject, I found the strength to rise up and (almost) gracefully let go.
Craig slept in the other room and quietly moved out in stages. I FELT RELIEVED when I realized that his stuff was completely gone except for a couple of large items. And I also marveled that it made my heartache. Even more. Still.
When I married him, I jumped in a hundred percent. I burned the boat and never looked back. I was there for the long haul, and I trusted that he was too. I could wonder what I did wrong. Believe me; I have asked the question. But the more I ponder it, the more I see that he’s just exercising his agency. Instead of holding onto the painful energy of judgment and blame, I'm choosing to honor his choice and focus on loving and nurturing myself more.
When he left me, it caused me pain like none other, and it left me with two choices.
To become bitter, or better. I'm choosing BETTER.
I'm not a victim, and he is not a villain. We are simply two people doing our best to figure things out and find happiness. He's decided he needs to go another direction, and I'm just doing my best to adjust. I'm being sincere and vulnerable here. Remember, you are hearing my side only. Please do not feel sorry for me. That's not the point of my sharing this.
My heart is bruised, but I am not broken! I am whole and complete, and I've proven that I can love and give much in a relationship. I like knowing that about myself.
I'm choosing to be grateful for the blessings of this marriage. On the positive side, we loved and served each other for many years, and I’ve grown and learned so much from being with him. He taught and shaped me and helped me heal. I would not be the strong and confident woman I am today without him. I am grateful for our time together.
I'm choosing to focus on the blessings and lessons that were part of the package deal of marrying him. I will always care about him as a person. I'm choosing to remain his friend and give him my blessings. I sincerely want him to be happy!
I'm choosing to love and forgive and keep working on becoming a better version of myself—every single day. I'm choosing to stay focused on what I want and trust the process of life to bring it to me. This is relatively easy for me to do because it's a way I chose to be many years ago.
Years ago I made the choice to rise above my circumstances and soar! I'm not about to sink and drown in a well of self-pity now. Gratefully with much help from Jesus, I’m heading back up to the top faster than I would’ve believed possible.
I’m grateful that I know how to manage my energy, and that these are not just words I use, but the way that I do life! I can’t even imagine how I’d be getting through this challenging time without the knowledge and tools I have!
I might not have fully gotten what I wanted (yet!), but I’m alive, strong, and have increased clarity, purpose, and direction.
I've still got me, and I'm still on my game, and that's a WIN.