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