What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

Sep 01

My friends Lee and Barbara over at MiddleSage.com did a series of posts in August they called Everybody’s Got a Story. They told their stories and asked for others to respond. I was particularly struck by this question:

Question #14. Tell us… What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? 

Here’s my story.

For many years my marriage had been difficult, but things started to get worse the year my husband was 44. According to one study, depression peaks at that age.

My husband started acting… oddly. He bought a convertible. (What a cliche!)

He had always been politically and socially very conservative, but he started listening to a liberal radio station. He told me that he no longer believed in his religion, but continued his public practice of it. He joined a running group and spent a lot of time with his new friends in the group. That’s where he met the other woman–in the running group.

My husband suggested marital counseling, because he kept saying that we had “communication” problems. Looking back, I’ve figured out the problem. He expected me to anticipate and fulfill his every wish. He really wanted the counselor to fix me because I wasn’t giving him the obedience and attention he needed. Never mind that I was homeschooling our five children and having health problems.

Over the next few years my husband became increasing disdainful of me and our children and everything about our life together. Finally, in the fall of 2008, he moved out of the house. He told the children that he didn’t think about them or how it would affect them for him to move out.

I don’t know what he thought was going to happen. He moved in with his parents and tried to keep the whole thing a secret from everyone he knew, including his brother who was also his business partner.

He asked the other woman out on dates via email.

She must not have responded the way he wanted because he started asking to move home in just a few weeks. Chump that I was, I let him move back in before Christmas.

The next few months were the most miserable of my life. I did not think I had the right to end my marriage. I had been taught in pre-marital counseling and by every religious teacher I knew that divorce was simply not an option unless my husband was having sex with another woman. He told me he wasn’t.

I wanted to die.

I wanted HIM to die.

I kept trying to breathe life back into this hulking shipwreck of a marriage because I thought I had no options.

And then we had our 25th wedding anniversary.

I planned a fabulous cruise vacation to Alaska to “celebrate.” In some ways it was a great vacation. The food was amazing; the scenery was gorgeous. I had some great times with the children. I loved Alaska, and I want to go back someday.

In some ways it was the worst vacation of my life. My husband damaged his relationships with the kids when he moved out and never did anything to make amends. They often avoided him on the ship. He got mad at me about it. We had some nasty fights. And then on the trip home he called me names and to top it all off, he got bumped to first class on the flight home and I ended up in coach sitting next a creepy stranger.

Happy anniversary.


The cruise that did not save my marriage.

The cruise that did not save my shipwrecked marriage.

Fortunately, he left on a business trip as soon as we got back home. The time he was away gave me time to think. I knew he was still spending time with the other woman, but I wasn’t sure how far he had gone with her physically.

I knew that he didn’t love me.

I knew I couldn’t live like that any longer.

I remembered how peaceful life was during the weeks he had been gone the previous year.

I made the biggest decision of my life. I gathered the children together and told them that we couldn’t live like that any longer, and I was going to ask their father to move out.

They were relieved.

I was relieved that I’d made a decision, but I wasn’t sure how he would take it. He might refuse my request. It could get really ugly.

The night my husband came home from his business trip, I had sent away most of the children. I met him at the door and handed him his suitcase from the vacation along with another suitcase I had packed of his work clothes and asked him to move out.

That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done–asking my husband to move out.

I didn’t have a contingency plan in mind in case he refused. I was afraid that he might become violent. Despite my fears, I asked him to go.

He left.

He had a nasty little hissy fit, but he took his things and left.

I’m not sure why he was willing to leave. It may have been because he was so shocked that his meek little doormat of a wife stood up to him. It may have been because he really wanted to be with the other woman instead of me.

I’ll never know, but I’m thankful.

When my husband moved out the second time, I didn’t have a plan for the future. I had a lot more decisions to make. But that’s a story for another day.

Elizabeth Siggy

What’s your story? What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?


  1. I can totally see why that would be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
    Because I know a bit about the rest of your story, I’ll just say that I’m so glad you’re on the other side, looking back, and feeling like you made a choice that was benficial for your family.
    Somehow, talking about the hardest thing I’ve ever done doesn’t really seem to honor your story.

  2. Elizabeth, you are very brave! As someone who has been through this heartbreaking process twice, I know that once you make the decision the hardest part is over…don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of hard work and hard roads to be taken after this decision has been made, but when you are in charge your ego doesn’t take a beating like when someone you THOUGHT loved you treats you like someone who is “less than”. Congratulations on seeing your way out of a relationship you didn’t deserve to be in.

  3. That was an amazingly hard thing to do; to go against all you had been taught! That is a great question…I’ll have to ponder what my hardest thing was.

  4. Elizabeth –

    I love the description “hulking shipwreck of a marriage” and how ironic your 25th anniversary that drove the point home was on a ship. It took me years – even thought I knew my marriage was a mess and my husband was abusive – to actually make the final decision that I’d had enough.

    Thank you for sharing such an honest story. And thank you, too, for the props you gave to middleSage.

  5. Wow Elizabeth. This is something. It’s touching me in ways that I don’t want to deal with right now. I may have to Private Message you. you’re awesome.


  1. What are your fears? - The New Elizabeth - […] Asking my husband to move out of our house was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had to…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *