Earlier this summer Cody wrote about the 11 mistakes he made that nearly ended our marriage. It was a popular post, resonating with a lot of people in similar situations. Last week, for the first time I read through the comments section — something I never bothered with before because the post itself brings up so much hurt I didn’t need the judgement of strangers to further poke at my scars.
The amount of comments relating to our struggles were surprising. Marriage just isn’t something we talk about openly as a society because it is so private and rarely is anyone able to get both sides of the story fairly and accurately. One of the reasons our marriage survived everything it did was because each of us took half the blame and never use past our mistakes in current arguments. As far as our marriage is concerned, we started over with a clean slate in October 2009 — Cody even re-proposed to me in the same place he proposed to me almost 13 years ago.
“Writing those things was pretty depressing because it was the first time I had really put it all down on paper and realized just how bad it was collectively. It wasn’t easy to write that post. By the time I got to the end and I realized I could keep going it got pretty depressing to think about the number of embarrassing mistakes I had made in my marriage.” -Cody
Was it easy? Hell no. It was terrifying, both of us were putting our complete trust into each other to change — something neither of us probably deserved after the way we treated each other. Either one of us could have changed their mind and bolted — it’s hard to recover when you’re not sure if the other person is 100% committed. Neither of us betrayed the other in those first few months, and slowly but surely we started back to being okay, then good and now to great.
What led you to telling Cody “I’m leaving you?”
I never saw any other way to get across to Cody how serious I was about leaving him until I actually pulled him aside and said “I’m leaving you.” I had tried for months to get him to notice me, I was desperate for his attention. It seemed as though everything I did, I did in the hope of somehow winning his approval. From the way I did my hair to the way I cleaned the house to the dinners I cooked, I just wanted to be a good wife. One he could be proud of and one he would dote on with love, attention and words of adoration.
Instead he spent 20 hours a day at the law school proving to me how much he loved me through hard work and diligence.
This was a comment from a woman on his post:
“Was there anything she could have said to you or shown you that would have made you realize the situation sooner and realize your part in it sooner? This sounds like something I could be writing about my child’s father now.“
And his response:
“She tried to tell me that all of those things were hurting her, but I just didn’t listen. I look back at it now and I can’t see her doing anything different that would have changed things. At some point, I just had to realize that I was being a bad husband.“
Does that justify the hurt I caused him when I said “I’m leaving you?” In my mind, no. Part of me wants to believe there was some other way to get him to notice me. But I really did try it all, and when it wasn’t returned or even noticed? I withdrew and turned to the people within my computer. They listened to me, they acknowledged me and they gave me the praise I so desperately wanted from my husband but never received. Soon enough, as Cody mentioned, all my free time was spent online with the people who cared I existed. Even when Cody asked me to get off, I saw it as pointless — he was never going to give me what I wanted or needed so why turn my back on the few good relationships I had online?
I believe that this is the point where pornography becomes a serious issue in many relationships. Thankfully it was never an issue in ours, but I cannot say I was completely innocent from seeking emotional fulfillment from people other than my husband. The Internet is a dangerous place, full of pitfalls, traps, and snares that will gobble you up at the slightest hint of weakness. A good (but not foolproof ) way to evaluate your relationship with your spouse is to ask yourself the following question: “Would I be comfortable with my spouse or partner reading through my email, my private messages, my text messages, or witnessing a conversation with someone I consider attractive without my knowledge?” I could give Cody the password to absolutely any social account I have right now and there would be nothing that would cause him any alarm. I could not have said the same in 2009. I had become terribly selfish, seeking approval at the risk of distancing myself from and hurting my own husband of 8 years.
Why did you stay with him?
More often I’ve wondered why he stayed with me. I am not an easy person to love, with my tendency towards selfishness, my mental illness and my betrayal of his trust. There are times I consider myself lucky he didn’t take off much earlier.
“I’m curious about something. If you love your wife, why did you mistreat, tease, ignore and otherwise disregard her and only change your actions once she did something drastic? To me, those aren’t the actions of someone who loves their spouse.” -Commenter
“In my mind they were all little things, but in her mind they were huge problems. We both needed to make improvements in the marriage. Marital problems are rarely one sided and this is my side of the marital problems.” -Cody
I loved the guy. I knew I was going to love him from the moment I first saw him and I fell hard and fast for his strong hands, blue eyes and handsome face. We were engaged only two weeks after our first date and married six months later. I was 19, I had no idea what went into an adult relationship and neither did he. There’s a reason law school marriages end in divorce half the time, it’s a terrible experience. He was good to me, he was a good man, and despite him being gone all the time, he was gone with the intention of bettering our family and our life together — we both failed miserably at focusing on and bettering the life we had at the moment. We fell into the trap of “Once first year is over things will get better…once I graduate things will get better…once I have a job things will get better…once I pass the bar…” on and on. I kept believing him until finally we were at the end of the road, he had graduated, had a job, passed the bar and we were a week away from closing on our new house and things had not gotten better.
Sure, he could have been a lot better at showing me love and affection — but he could have been much worse with his work ethic. I knew if I stayed with him I would be taken care of, and that’s what got me through the worst bits. It wasn’t until the end when I realized I was ready to give up a secure and comfortable future that I realized just how important being emotionally cared for mattered to me.
So what changed?
We did. As soon as Cody knew the hows and whys as to why I was leaving he said “I promise you, I promise you will never go another day without knowing how much I love you.” He had made passing comments about changing in the past, and in that moment I had the choice to trust him or stick with my plan of leaving. Back in 2004 as I sat in a hospital room sobbing about how I couldn’t handle the thought of having a baby and going back to work he promised me he would do all he could to keep me home — and it’s a promise he has stuck to and kept for the last 9 years. I knew this promise was different, I just had to give him a chance. I came clean on all of my misgivings, I cut ties to the toxic relationships in my life and just as he promised I’d never go a day without knowing how much he loved me, I promised myself there would never be a day he couldn’t trust me.
We debated for a long time about how to publicly approach the disintegration of our marriage. We both knew once we were healed we needed to talk about it to help other couples going through similar situations. Cody has never mentioned how hard the recovery process was for him, while I was the one feeling neglected and hurt for years — he had a bomb dropped on him out of left field. The guilt I felt for hurting him so badly was overwhelming, which made the recovery process even more delicate. I can only imagine he felt a similar sense of guilt over ignoring me and pushing me away for so long. We don’t dwell in our guilt, we also don’t use past mistakes to hurt or humble each other today.
Am I glad I stayed? You bet. I realize not every relationship can be saved, but if there’s a chance it can be — I believe in fighting for that chance. Sometimes marriages have to end so you can find the person you were really meant to be with. Other times a marriage cannot be saved because one or both of the spouses holds on to resentment and uses it as poison within the relationship. We were lucky, once we swore to stay together we both stayed true to the promise we made each other.
It took years for me to feel hurt enough to act out.
It took three months to destroy myself and decide to leave.
It took less than 20 minutes from the time I told Cody I was leaving him for him to promise me he’d change.
It took me less than a few seconds to believe him.
That was four years ago, and it is still one of the best decisions I have ever made.