My husband and I have been married for 13 years, but we almost didn’t make it past eight.
Flashback to 2017. I was a (somewhat) young mother of three, working from home and spending 100% of my time with our kids when they weren’t in school while my husband worked full time. We were busy, and we didn’t always have a lot of time for each other, but I just assumed that’s how it is when you have young kids.
On a random Tuesday in September, I was checking our bank account when I came across something that didn’t quite add up. Three hours and FBI-level research later, I’d stumbled upon a betrayal that had spanned the entire course of our marriage. All these years later, I can still vividly remember the way I felt that day. Frozen, hurt, numb. Shocked. Things like this didn’t happen to me.
My marriage was solid, or so I thought.
I had pages and pages of evidence that I’d compiled while my husband was at work. I spent the day just going through the motions, trying to decide how I wanted to handle this. Could I get past it? Did I want a separation? Divorce? Did I want to put our kids through that? In the end, the kids were the deciding factor.
I remember confronting him when he got home, trying to stay cool and calm. He was instantly remorseful and willing to do whatever it took to fix things, and when I told him it was therapy or separation, he readily agreed.
I went into our first session thoroughly expecting to throw it all out there, have the therapist tell my husband he was a horrible person and he was lucky I’d stuck around, and accept his groveling apology. Turns out I had a lot to learn . . . about myself.
I’d spent the last eight years thoroughly engrossed in motherhood, throwing my all into raising our children and assuming the lack of time together as a couple was just something all parents go through from time to time.
At the end of the day, I was exhausted, touched out, and craving time to myself.
The many times my husband tried to talk to me about how he was feeling and how he wanted us to spend more time together, I took as a direct insult and his way of telling me I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t doing enough. Instead of talking it out, I shut down. Literally. There were times I’d storm out of the room and refuse to talk to or listen to him. I can’t tell you how often I slammed a door behind me or how often we went to bed angry and resentful. I refused to acknowledge, or even to realize, I was part of the problem.
Weekly therapy forced me to talk and to listen. I couldn’t walk away. I couldn’t close a door between us. My husband had been trying to tell me he was unhappy for years, and I refused to listen. I was angry that I was the only one around when it came to our kids. I was in charge of making and taking them to appointments, packing lunches and getting them off to school, dealing with health issues, and literally every single detail when it came to them. A lot of the time, I felt like a single parent, and I resented my husband for it. He was unhappy but was being shut down left and right each time he tried to bring it up.
There was a lot of work we both had to do.
It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun. We saw our therapist weekly for more than a year, and she saved our marriage.
Five years later, we’re happier than we’ve ever been. That’s not to say our life is perfect. We’re still immersed in parenting and life has thrown us many a curveball when it comes to our kids. But we’re talking to each other, and we’re listening. Even though it’s still my first gut reaction, I don’t shut down when my husband wants to have a discussion about us. He’s so much more present in our kids’ lives than I ever could have hoped for, and we both have made an effort to prioritize our relationship.
We’ve grown as individuals and as a couple, and there is no doubt we owe it to therapy. It saved our marriage.