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To the Brink: 11 Mistakes I Made that Nearly Ended My Marriage

mistakesA few years ago my marriage nearly came to an end. My wife and I hit a point where we had to make a decision to either stick it out or go our separate ways.

Casey has been rather open on her blog about the marital problems that we faced.  I, however, have tried to forget that that phase of our relationship ever happened. Since that is impossible, instead I always try to avoid what got us to that point in the first place.

I was shocked when my wife finally admitted just how bad our marriage had become. It was a Sunday, after she returned from a trip to Utah. We went to church and sat in a pew together as we listened to the speakers. She had been struggling through the side effects of Lupron, a drug to help her with PCOS, and that day’s side effect seemed to be anxiety.  She put my arm around her shoulders and she leaned her head against my shoulder.

We stayed in that position for the entire first hour of church, and then we went our separate ways for the remainder of church that day. A short while later, my wife pulled me out of whatever class I had been attending and took me into a room that wasn’t being used.

It wasn’t the first time that she had pulled me into a vacant room at church. Those conversations were usually about struggles with depression, and that’s what I expected her to want to talk about. Instead, she had me sit down and she told me that she was leaving me.

We both made mistakes in our marriage that led us down that particular road. I’ve thought a lot about what our marriage was like and what I had done wrong. These are the mistakes that I consider to be the biggest — mistakes that I wish I had avoided to make us happier throughout those first 9 years together.

  • Constant Teasing 1 of 11
    Constant Teasing
    I teased my wife—a lot. In my mind, the teasing was always good natured and could never be taken seriously, but because it happened so often, my wife started to take it personally. Sometimes the teasing went from good natured fun into more of the ribbing I would have used with male college roommates before I got married. Nine years of that kind of teasing wore on her until she couldn't take it anymore. I didn't realize that it really bothered her until it was too late.
  • Supporting Vs. Loving 2 of 11
    Supporting Vs. Loving
    I confused supporting my wife with loving my wife. Throughout our entire marriage I worked odd hours and lots of hours. Our first year of marriage involved school during the day and work during the evenings until well after she went to bed. The next year involved working a full time job during the day and a full time job overnight. Then I worked overnight while going to school in the day for the next four years. By the time I got to law school, staying away from my wife while I was at school for 20 plus hours to study didn't seem all that bad. All the work I was putting in was for her and Addie--proof that I loved them. They'd understand why I had to be away so much. I began to believe that working long hours was all I really needed to do to show love to my wife. I rarely spoke the words, "I love you" to my wife.
  • Getting Lazy 3 of 11
    Getting Lazy
    I let things slide. The times I was at home during my last two years of law school, my wife and I gradually drifted apart. The Internet can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing. My wife got more and more involved in the Internet, and that meant she was on the Internet all the time. In the evenings I would practically beg her to close her laptop and spend some time with me. If she wouldn't close her laptop in the evening I would beg her to at least close it when it was time for bed. Eventually I decided to let her stay on her laptop to see if she would notice how little we communicated anymore. Big mistake. A year later we really only interacted in passing. I would come home from school to watch Addie, and Casey would leave to a Panera to write on the internet or go visit friends. We began requesting certain nights away from each other until every night of each week was scheduled away from each other.
  • Not Listening 4 of 11
    Not Listening
    I couldn't recognize her pleas for help. I have never been good at understanding her difficulties. I've never been good at communicating with her. The distance that grew between us made that hurdle even more difficult. A few months before that terrible day at church, my wife wrote me a few emails while she was staying in North Carolina. She wrote in one, "I miss you." I didn't respond to the email. Those types of pleas for help happened more and more frequently, but I ignored them.
  • Avoiding Affection 5 of 11
    Avoiding Affection
    I avoided physical displays of emotion. I've always felt awkward holding my wife's hand in public, or giving her a kiss in public. I actually worried on our wedding day that I would struggle to kiss the bride. For the first few years of our marriage, I worked on it and it wasn't a problem. As time went on I got lazier until it didn't happen anymore at all.
  • Forgetting Compliments 6 of 11
    Forgetting Compliments
    I didn't compliment her. I don't know why I didn't compliment her. I've always struggled telling girls that they look pretty. Most of the time when I said it early on in our marriage, it came out in a mumble and was usually pretty ill-timed. Towards the end of our nine years, it didn't come out at all.
  • Not Prioritizing Our Relationship 7 of 11
    Not Prioritizing Our Relationship
    I didn't make our relationship a priority. I grew up in a home where divorce wasn't an option. That can be a good motto to take going into marriage, but it can also cause you to become lazy. If divorce isn't an option, why work at the marriage? My wife wanted to go on vacations together, she would have even taken a good date night, but I always thought it cost too much and took too much time. A few months before our bad day at church, several of my law school friends practically begged me to take my wife on a date. They didn't understand how my wife and I could go days without talking to each other and still survive as a married couple. I scoffed at their fears and then a few months later I learned just how right they were.
  • Turning Our Marriage into a Competition 8 of 11
    Turning Our Marriage into a Competition
    I made our roles in the marriage compete. My wife spent all day at home with Addie while I went off to law school to study for hours. Sometimes when I would come home, my wife would tell me how difficult her day was and that I didn't have it so bad because I got to spend time with adults all day. Those conversations turned into arguments over who had the more difficult life. Truth is, we both had difficult lives and we should have been more understanding of the stresses we were dealing with. I could have adjusted my schedule a bit here and there to help my wife have more adult interaction during the day. I could have been a better listener to the things that were troubling her. Sometimes just being willing to listen to her struggles was all she really needed to help her through those difficult times.
  • Letting My Focus Slip 9 of 11
    Letting My Focus Slip
    I let other things be the focus of the few dates we went on. On the Valentine's Day before our bad day at church, I had gotten her a surprise present for the first time in our nine years of marriage. Somehow we were able to arrange for someone to babysit Addie and we were set to go on a romantic Valentine's date. Instead of focusing on my wife and letting her know how excited I was to be going on a date with her, our conversation wandered into things that I never should have even been thinking about. The conversation eventually turned into an argument and we spent about 45 minutes in the parking lot of a fancy restaurant as my wife cried. By that point, I hadn't even given her the present I had gotten her. Eventually we turned that evening around, but it was one of the more difficult nights of our marriage.
  • Lack of Understanding 10 of 11
    Lack of Understanding
    I refused to understand the things she struggled with. My wife came home from a trip and later that evening learned that her internet friend's daughter had unexpectedly passed away. My wife was devastated. The friend lived in California and for a reason I didn't understand, my wife had to get to California to help her friend. She made arrangements to get on a plane the next day to fly out to help her friend. I was frustrated. The trip came in the middle of finals and left me stranded with a child. I wasn't just frustrated, I was furious, but I didn't have any reason to be furious. My wife had taken care of everything. She had arranged for Addie to stay at a friend's house while she was away so I could focus on school. Her trip to California didn't inconvenience me in any way, but when she got back from California, I didn't let her finish grieving before I made the whole thing into another parking lot argument.
  • Learning from Our Mistakes 11 of 11
    Learning from Our Mistakes
    I can't leave this post on such a negative tone. We both learned from our mistakes and none of the mistakes that I have listed have really been a problem since that day at church. I still work on some of the things I struggle with, like complimenting my wife on how beautiful she looks, showing physical affection and recognizing her pleas for help. That's part of the reason I started writing on this blog, to show my family in words that I do love them. I can understand if some people reading this post wonder how my wife could still be married to me. You're not alone, I wonder the same thing sometimes. Thankfully, my wife decided to give me another chance and we've become far happier than we ever were before. I love my wife and I'm glad we both chose to learn how to be a happy married couple.

Read more about my family on Moosh in Indy or follow me on Twitter!

MORE ON BABBLE

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