Dreams of growing old with someone I felt was the love of my life- catapulted me into a 2 decade marriage. At a young age, I had no idea how little I knew and I had no understanding of what intimate, long lasting love was in a marriage. I only knew that I wanted him to be the axis of my life. He was everything I wanted to build my life around and so I did.
We were quickly blessed with a sweet little boy, and somehow, I now had 2 people to devote my time and love towards. As the years went by, the deep love between my former spouse and I quickly turned to lies and hurt. So many mistakes were made and we managed to devastate our little boy time and again. As the marriage began to fade at a rapid pace, God gave us an unexpected miracle of a little girl. Her existence became known only one day after an agreement for a divorce. We struggled even more to hold our marriage together, to give our children the opportunity of a family. Our lives were impacted by military combat, frequent absences of their father and we were a lonely military family, away from our loved ones. There was no village to help and rarely time together as husband and wife.
The years continued to go by and our children were our only joy. We managed to create a team effort, absent of real intimacy, void of trust. We built a lovely home, strong careers and we ran a regimented home that kept the ship more than afloat. As the years passed, I longed for another child, and I still deeply loved my husband. And, so, one morning I learned I was pregnant and my entire life felt completely right again.
And then it wasn’t.
The marriage continued to break apart and was put back together time and again; more combat deployments and a diagnosis of Autism with our youngest son. We picked ourselves up from the many pains and crisis’ over the years, packed our belongings and departed the military life after 20 years. We needed normalcy and time as a family.
Two short years later, it ended in divorce. Abruptly. And we waged an emotional war on each other that I can clearly see now is shameful and did detrimental harm to our children. It eroded our emotional health, finances and family relationships. We embedded distrust, anger and hatred in our family.
Fast forward 4 years, we have just begun to be civil and really try and co parent our last remaining child that lives at home. Are we friends? I wouldn’t go that far. But, I would say that we are doing everything right in the best interest of our children, and our grandchildren. We face the challenges that all of our children are dealing with because of their traumas and because we were too consumed by our own pain to think clearly. Some of those traumas were from the military life we had together and others from the turbulent divorce.
Recently, my former spouse gave me the courtesy of letting me know he is remarrying. I was grateful because it gave me the chance to brace myself for impact with our children. His courtesy was an opportunity for me to see that our family is moving on in healthy ways and we can help our children prepare for more changes. I know my children will struggle with this, but it is my prayer and hope that they will see that we are still a family. It will take more time for them to accept the finality of the divorce; that the last shred of hope is absolutely gone. Four years is but a drop in the bucket compared to 25 years.
I hope my children’s father finds in his new marriage all that we lacked in ours. I want that for him; to see him happy and to grow old with a wonderful person by his side. I can only hope that our children will embrace their father’s new life and that they know in their hearts that he does love them. And that, his “moving on” from the marriage he shared with me is not about “moving on” from his relationship with our children.
I hated to love him after the marriage fell apart. And, it felt good to love to hate him for so long. But now, I feel peace and contentment in what we had, what was lost and what we have since found as civil people that deeply love the children we were given. From our teenage marriage and ongoing brokenness, we created two sons, a daughter and were given the blessings of a daughter in law and 3 grandsons.
I’ll forever be grateful for the good times we shared and for the years we tried to give it our best. We were teenagers when we married and we taught each other so much about life. But, my most amazing lesson is that through so much devastation, former partners can find common ground when you share a deep love for the same people.
I’ll always have many regrets. And, there was a phase where I swore I regretted the entire marriage. But, since the dust has settled and there is a mutual effort of building trust and respect, I now remember that there were good times. And, we did do some things right. We made beautiful children that still deserve both of their parents involvement and support. And if that means that our family grows through remarriage, then that’s what it means. I think there is never too many people to love our children and grandchildren.
So, the dream of growing old is different now. There is no sitting on the porch swing next to my children’s father, grey haired with our grandbabies at our feet. But, I do dream of more laughter and smiles, and our children taking the next step forward in healing after all they have been through in their lives.