How My Husband And I Fell Back In Love
I get messages all the time from people about how we saved our marriage. I’ve spoken openly about the troubles we’ve been through. I don’t think I’ve been explicit about how bad it got - after all, it’s not just my story to tell - but know this, it was bad. I would say that we certainly hit our rock bottom and it wasn’t pretty. The fighting had subsided only to be replaced by sad conversations tinged with resignation and, at its worst, there just remained silence.
Fast forward six months and I’m devastated he’s just left for three weeks. For the first time in years, I feel like I have a ‘person’ again. I don’t just like him, I love him and to be able to say that is truly something. He said the same thing to me, “Babe,” he said, “Leaving was so much easier when I didn’t like you,” and he was right. I feel the same.
It’s become important to me that I share my story as much as I can because I see it all around. I see the pressure of modern life putting malignant stresses and strains on relationships all around me. Some survive it; many don’t. We’re not honest enough about it and I understand why. It’s a shared narrative - as I said before, it isn’t just my story to tell - but also, admitting that your relationship is in trouble is a scary thing. It takes real balls, true bravery, to stand up and say, ‘We’re failing at this,’ and even if you can find the balls to do it, you’re not sure you can summon the strength to remain standing while your heart breaks.
Despite us being at the very brink, despite us looking over the precipice, dangling our legs into the dark abyss that was separation, we managed to come back from it. At the time, I had no hope. Sure, I would still have agreed that, in an ideal world, I wanted this relationship to work out but I would have sworn blind that the damage had been done, that we were beyond saving. We’d agreed to sit down and talk, after weeks of silence, and this was when I was going to tell him that it was over.
And then I spoke to a friend. I told her what was happening. I told her where we were heading and she said just this: “Promise me one thing. Promise me that when you sit down to talk, you don’t lead with ‘I want a separation.’ Give him a chance to talk.” I rolled my eyes and I wanted to hang up. I’d made my decision. I didn’t want to go around in circles again. I needed to draw a line but here was one of my closest friends telling me to give it ONE MORE SHOT. I didn’t think I had it in me.
But I did what she said and let him talk and I talked and we both talked and for the first time we agreed to be on the same page. We agreed - and said out loud - that we had found ourselves in a place where we didn’t just not love each other, we didn’t like each other. I was adamant: if this wasn’t going to end in separation then we were going to have to do something different because, as the old saying goes, ‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.’ Or something like that.
So that was our rock bottom. There was no cheating, drama or violence. We had simply turned our backs on each other and kept walking until we couldn’t see each other or shout across the distance. We were a buzzing ball of resentment, a vicious vacuum of silence or we were screaming at each other. We were so fucking angry with the other that we couldn’t see straight. But, that conversation also revealed something else to me. We were also both so very, very, very hurt. We both felt let down, abandoned, betrayed. We both felt isolated and lonely, scared and furious.
We decided that we would accept our new reality. That we would eliminate all expectations of each other. That we would simply co-exist and co-parent in the same house. We would maintain civility and even fake it for the kids but we would be true to our feelings and not pretend that we were ok when we were so very obviously not. We would also do therapy - a privilege that we were aware of and enormously grateful for. We decided that either one of two things would happen: either we would get to a point where we couldn’t NOT separate or we would find ourselves again.
It was a tough few months. Therapy was horrible but essential and eventually it was life saving. I’d been very good at manipulating therapy so that it was all about Jimmy. I had to stop that. I had to face my own demons and accept that I had my own issues that had impacted not just our ability to communicate but also my ability to love wholly, to be vulnerable, to be honest. I had to start giving into therapy and accepting that there was shit I needed to deal with as well.
I can’t speak for Jimmy but I know he made a huge effort to give it everything he had. We both recognised that this was our last hurrah, that this was the ‘shit or get off the pot’ moment. We had stared at the inevitable and recognised it as a reality: one that we could embrace wholeheartedly knowing that we’d given it everything or one that we could choose to defend ourselves against. For us, I think, the difference was our willingness to admit that we were in a shit place, the worst place, without accepting that it had to be the end. And for that I have to credit Jimmy and my friend on the phone that morning. I was convinced we were done. They encouraged me to give it one more chance.
Here’s what I’d like to say. Unless there’s something else at play - affairs or some tangible betrayal - there’s always hope. It’s up to you whether you have the strength or the energy to do it - you loved each other once, you could potentially do it again. I get it if you don’t. There’s no judgement here. I know there are a million factors at play but don’t be afraid to sit down and admit that it’s bad. Really bad. That doesn’t have to be the beginning of the end; it could be the beginning of ‘better’.
It would be naive to say we were out of the woods. Who knows what the future holds but I do know that we’ve never wanted to make it work like we do right now. We’ve been able to dissolve the animosity, the resentment, the anger and what’s left has been acceptance and a seriously reduced level of expectation. I can’t predict the future but I’ve never been this hopeful before.