“Oh, I’m so sorry,” the nurse said at my baby’s 18-month checkup. I put my hands over my going-on-3-year-old’s ears, a little too late.

I didn’t know what to say.

I had tried to hint at the change of circumstances. “We’re living at Grandma’s house. We just moved in. No, we won’t be going back to our other house. No, it is not being renovated. It’s just Daddy’s house now.”

I knew this was a necessary topic for discussion, but just how does one sum it all up in a politically correct elevator speech, suitable for all audiences?

It had taken me more than a year to arrive at the decision to leave my husband. During that year, I mourned the loss of my dreams. Occasionally I felt a ray of hope that things could be the way they used to be, that I wanted them to be, that my husband had told me they’d be. But those moments were fleeting.

My husband told me I was a bad Christian. After all, according to 1 Corinthians 1-7, “Love is patient, love is kind . . . it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs . . . It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” So how could I give up?

Well, I could no longer handle the fact that my husband couldn’t hold a job or stop drinking.

If I tried to talk to him about that, or any topic he didn’t want to discuss, I endured criticism, sarcasm, or name calling—or he’d “punish” me by giving me the cold shoulder.

He went to counseling reluctantly where he gaslighted me (psychologically manipulated, e.g., “You’re insane! That never happened!”), and the therapist believed him. My husband found ways to isolate me from my support group as well.

I couldn’t hide from the fact that I wrote the same things over and over and over in my journal for the better part of that year.

“I think I made a terrible mistake.”

“I’m so disappointed.”

“I can’t live like this.”

The day I knew I had to plan an exit strategy was one when my older son, then aged two-and-a-half, looked at me and said, “Mommy sad.”

I clearly wasn’t fooling anyone and I couldn’t deny it. To do so would set the stage for another generation of dysfunction. I was fed up with being bullied, belittled, shamed, and undermined. I didn’t want my kids to witness me being treated that way nor did I want them to experience it for themselves.

So, finally, I left.

When people told me, “You look great—did you so something different with your hair?” they were surprised to find out what it was that had changed. Because what person in her right mind would leave with two toddlers?

“I’m so sorry!” they said.

“Please, don’t be. I’m better off.”

But at the pediatrician’s office that day, a choked out “Thanks” was all I could manage for the nurse, and really all that was necessary. I just wanted to end the conversation and not predispose my sons to thinking there’s something bad about the situation.

Plenty of kids have parents in two households. “My boys are so young; how will they ever know any different?”

“Down the line, they might,” the nurse suggested and handed me a pamphlet about counseling.

Pangs of guilt washed over me anew, as they had during the previous year of indecision and from time to time since the separation, as I detoxed myself from my toxic marriage.

However, today we are more than a decade and a half “down the line” and while it has certainly not always been easy, it was the right decision.

I wasn’t a bad Christian. I chose to “love” my ex-husband from a distance, meaning that I remained cordial and neutral to him and would only engage with him on topics related to the children. Like I always told my kids, “You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you do have to be polite.”

I learned that gossip is the devil’s telephone as every smear campaign my ex-husband tried to launch backfired.

I learned that living well is the best revenge: I put my kids first in every decision I made, and it seemed like the hand of God was upon us, even through our darkest days.

The boys saw their dad fairly regularly until he moved out-of-state. The distance coupled by the fact that the boys had their own agendas kept them closer to home during their high school years.

Ultimately, I saw firsthand that kids handle a divorce just about as well as their parents. And like I said, I was better off divorced.

You may also like: 

I’m Done Being a Victim of Divorce

Silencing the Lies of Divorce

As a Divorced Mom, Sometimes I Feel Like a Traitor

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Caroline Poser

I'm a work-at-home/telecommuting mom of three teenage sons. I ghostwrite blog posts for a worldwide tech company and have some other writing projects on the side. An author of four books, my personal writing has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including the #1 New York Times best-selling series Chicken Soup for the Soul®.

But God, I Can’t Forgive That

In: Faith, Marriage
Woman holding arms and walking by water

Surrender is scary. Giving in feels like defeat. Even when I know it’s the right thing, yielding everything to God is scary. It also feels impossible. The weight of all I’m thinking and feeling is just so dang big and ugly. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I cling so tightly to my fear I don’t even recognize it for what it is. Bondage. Oppression. Lack of trust. Oh, and then there’s that other thing—pride. Pride keeps me from seeing straight, and it twists all of my perceptions. It makes asking for help so difficult that I forget that...

Keep Reading

My Husband Doesn’t Change Dirty Diapers

In: Marriage
Father holding baby

My husband doesn’t change dirty diapers. He hates it. The mere thought of a dirty diaper makes him gag. He will drive almost any bargain to get out of changing a diaper filled with anything stinky. In fact, there are a few things my husband doesn’t do that fall solely on me. If I sat down (okay, sort of like I am right now), I could compile an entire list of things my husband doesn’t do for our family. I could write about everything I do better than him and everything I know more about. But that wouldn’t be fair....

Keep Reading

You Came between Us

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler between mom and dad under sheet

Right in the middle of our deepest love, you came—just between us. A silent, unseen surprise. A mysterious miracle of incarnated love and joy. From that sacred moment that we couldn’t imagine being any sweeter, came you. Sometime in the middle of all the daily goodbye hugs, my stomach began to grow and you came between us. This beautiful bundle of life blossoming right inside of me. And we were in awe of every single tiny formation of you. In awe of who you were, excited by who you’d be, in awe that you were ours. You came between us...

Keep Reading

To My Wife: I See Your Sacrifice

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Family of 3 sitting on floor together at home

Selfless. No other word more clearly depicts your commitment to your family. Motherhood is drastically different than you dreamed of your whole life—the dreams of what sort of mama you would be, of how much you would enjoy being a mother even on the tough days. Since day one of our relationship, you’ve been selfless. Since day one of being a mama, you’ve been selfless. Your love for your family shines through on the brightest and darkest days. But on the dark days, it shines the brightest. I can’t count the hours of sleep sacrificed, the tears cried, the time...

Keep Reading

If You’re Fighting for Your Marriage Right Now, Keep Going

In: Marriage
Couple embracing with worried look on woman's face

My husband and I just celebrated 20 years of marriage last week. For the first five years of our marriage, we had no kids. We now have six. We have been through multiple moves, job changes, pregnancies, miscarriage, child loss, the death of loved ones, grief, three adoptions, mental illness etc. I see marriage totally differently than I did 20 years ago.  I believe, above everything, it takes two people willing to sacrifice and work hard (maybe one more than the other during different seasons) in order for the marriage to stay afloat. Marriage, if done right, does not puff one up...

Keep Reading

She Left Him on Valentine’s Day

In: Faith, Marriage
Husband kissing wife on cheek, color photo

“Can you believe that?” Those were the dreaded knife-cutting whispers I heard from across the table. I sunk deeper into my chair. My hopes fell as everyone would forever remember that I had left my fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Maybe one day it would just dissipate like the dream wedding I had planned or the canceled plane tickets for the Hawaiian honeymoon. Some bridesmaids and guests had already booked plane tickets. It was my own nightmare that kept replaying in my head over and over again. I had messed up. Big time. To be honest, if it made any difference,...

Keep Reading

“I Can’t Do This Anymore,” He Said—Then Everything Changed

In: Living, Marriage
Woman with head in hands

The questions are very much valid. Did I know when I married him? Did I know when we struggled with infertility and trying to become parents? Did I know when we unexpectedly became pregnant with our second child? When did you know your husband was an alcoholic? The answer is simple yet so complex, I pretty much knew from the first year, yet I was in complete denial. When I met him, he was just my type—a bad boy with a bad reputation, yet so cute! On our third date or so, I saw how much he could drink and how...

Keep Reading

I Want More than Mediocre Love

In: Marriage
Man and woman holding hands facing away from each other, silhouette

It felt like an out-of-body experience as I watched my fingers type into the Google search bar, “Local divorce lawyers near me.” I just want to know my options. Yet, my heart pounded as realized I was halfway serious in considering a divorce. There was no betrayal, no abuse, no lying, or cheating. My husband was and is a good man. The truth was he did not do anything wrong, I was just convinced he was doing nothing right. We were in the thick of life with a new baby, and I was certain that the man I loved was...

Keep Reading

My Husband’s in Love with a Different Woman Now

In: Living, Marriage, Motherhood
Couple standing by Christmas decorations

He’s in love with a different woman now . . . I met my husband seven years ago. We got married and went on adventures. Went to some weddings and had a bunch of kids. Every Christmas party season, we would celebrate by going out to dinner . . . except this year that one dress didn’t fit. I had my husband try to zip it, and then my mom . . . there was no budging. I had been tiny, I had been heavy—sick and healthy. My weight had been a roller coaster always. But, this special dress had always...

Keep Reading

Did I Deserve My Husband’s Affair?

In: Marriage
Woman looking out window

When my husband left and ran off with a lady from his office, all of my friends and family bombarded me with one massive conclusion: Divorce him! You deserve better! Back then, I agreed. “Yes! I deserve way better than this!” And like a fast-moving train locked in place, my deserving something better became the fuel to cut him off. Then, as time wore on, I began to wonder, what exactly did I “deserve”? In the dictionary, “deserve” means “to have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have.” Am I...

Keep Reading