Before I get started, I want to get something off my chest.
While we often hear of marriages ending in divorce as a result of a major issue (affair, addiction, abuse, etc.) I believe those reasons don’t account for the majority of divorces. I believe that many marriages fail to thrive or ultimately end because of small things that go unaddressed for long periods of time.
Our story follows that narrative. We appeared fine on the surface, but it was those seemingly insignificant issues that began to compound. Here’s a deep look inside our marriage.
The Breaking Point
Do you remember that breaking point in your marriage? It’s the moment when you feel like you’ve given all you can, nothing had changed, and so now it was time to give one last push with what little emotional energy you had left?
I remember clearly it was sometime in November of last year that I had reached that point. It had gotten so bad in my mind because I had held off on talking to Tommy for so long. Not because I was worried or have trouble with confrontation, but because I often do a self-evaluation before approaching any situation. I ask myself these questions and if I’m “cleared” then I move forward with it:
- Is it a good time to talk? (Are we on good terms? Is he not overly stressed? Are the kids going to not interrupt?)
- Could any of my emotions affect how I present the issue? Or magnify it? Or even minimize it?
- Am I crazy? Seriously ladies, sometimes we need to triple check to make sure what we’re saying is socially sound.
Usually, #1 was always the reasons I felt that I couldn’t approach Tommy to talk about something. At some point, though, you have to overlook #1 and talk anyways because otherwise…it’ll make you #3.
This one is out of Tommy’s playbook for conflict resolution, but it has actually helped me process and evaluate my own stance when I write it down. So with utter frustration on that fateful November night, I sat down with a pen and piece of paper and began to scribble down my thoughts. I wrote quite angrily and fast. Surprisingly, it brought me a great sense of relief to jot it down. To verbalize it. To re-read it over again. Almost in a sense, I was validating my own feelings.
Here’s roughly what I wrote in that letter (I’ve since thrown it away otherwise I would give it to you verbatim):
Right now I think our marriage is a 4 out of 10. While the day-to-day seems to be well and fine, we’ve been falling apart at the seams for what seems like the last 2 years. I’m not sure the exact causes, but these are some things I’m noticing.
Our communication sucks. We hardly are able to connect on surface level things such as weekend plans, individual obligations, etc. that it seems impossible to connect on a deeper level.
I often feel that you tell me your plans last minute and so we have to drop what we’re doing to accommodate what you’ve committed us to, sometimes even negating my plans to make it happen.
At night, it seems like we both go our own ways and don’t make an effort to connect. You’re often occupied with the TV, your phone, or a book and I’m upstairs winding down. We don’t go to bed together like we used to. We don’t pray regularly at night like we used to.
The duration of our fights longer. We go periods without talking to each other longer. It seems for the last few years that our takeaways have been the exact same:
- I needed to give you positive affirmation more, initiate more intimacy, and make you aware when I needed your help (instead of trying to do it on my own)
- You needed to communicate more, be on your phone less/be more engaged, and pursue me in the ways I wanted to be pursued.
We would put these systems in place and both of us would improve for about a month or so until we would slip back into our old way of doing things. Then there would come an incident that would quickly be magnified and turn into a fight.
We can’t keep this cycle up. It’s only getting worse.
I would like for us to start going on more dates. I feel that I’m planning those a lot (picking a time, finding a sitter, choosing a place, etc.) and I would like to feel pursued in this way.
We need to pray more together. This is non-negotiable.
We need to find a way to communicate more with each other. I’d rather that you over communicate than not enough.
What can I improve on?
His Initial Response From My Vantage Point
Tommy felt blindsided by what I had to say that night. He knew things weren’t great, but he didn’t realize they were bad. I had mentioned counseling in the past, but this time was different. It felt like we really had to go. We didn’t want to consider the alternative.
*Closing Notes: Tommy will be posting his response and perspective next week*
Photo by Freepik