My wife and i have been seperated for two months today. She left me due to unhappiness over my occassional drug use. (it was occassional but it was horrible for her i'm sure and i do not underplay the impact it had on our marriage.) That was the straw that broke the camels back, the two of us each had done things in our marriage that neither of us knew how to address properly. Were young and instead of dealing with the problems we allowed it to drive a wedge between us.
I went to treatment and have given up all forms of addiction from my life, alcohol, gambling, and the druge use. I knew that might have been the major issue but that if our marriage was going to ever have a chance again i needed to educate myself on how to be a better husband, be better at opening up and being honest, and learn what it really takes to make a marriage work.
At first contact was very limited, she was pretty upset with me, she was staying at her parents house with our young son. She got an apartment and i gave her all of our furniture, everything she needed to be comfortable with our son. i payed her rent, got all the initial groceries, basically made it as easy as possible for her to leave me, because in my heart i believe that she was reacting to the ongoing problem that i had to be responsible for.
About a week ago i laid myself out to her, i asked for forgiveness and knew i'd done everything possible to deserve to ask for it, not just say i'm sorry. I did up a romantic gift box that i know probably shook her heart. At the end of the conversation she cried while i apologized, then she lashed out and said all sorts of hurtful things. I took it like a man, she was entitled to it. 4 days later she texts me and apologizes for the things she said, says she's not writing our marriage off yet, but thats she's not ready to make a decision.
Last night we talked a bit about things, very briefly, and over the past 5 days things have kind of began taking a softer tone between us. She says she needs to see more from me in terms of making sure my drug use doesn't happen again and that i'm getting my priorities straight. She has every right to want to see that and i can honestly say i've done everything and have truly grown into a better man. It will take time to continue to engrain these behaviours in myself and i'm not looking to ask her to let me come home. Rather she's not sure how to approach working on our marriage and still says she needs time and space. I'm confused, she's opening up, weve already come to the conclusion she loves me, she hasn't asked for divorce, i dont want to push her, i just want to know how to move forward without her feeling cornered? I really want to do the right thing and respect that this will take some more time. I think in another month i will ask her to seriously start working on the marriage, but for now, i just want to know how to approach her without pushing her away. Were finally starting to get closer and i dont want to jeopardize that.
You are your wife are starting over. So why not start dating her? Ask her out, find a babysitter for you son.
Do it just like you would a new person in your life.. start slow. Maybe coffee and desert. Some walks in the park. Over a few weeks work up to dinner out.
This could actually be a lot of fun.
If she needs proof of giving up some additions she will need a way to get proof. Offer to have complete transparency on your finances so that you cannot gamble, buy drugs, etc. Offer to do drug tests any time she asks.
Are you going to AA? She should probably to to Alanon or Nar-Anon.
Those organizations can give both of you a lot of info and support in keeping clean.
By the way... how long has it been since you gave up your addictions?
I've been attending NA and paying for her to attend private session counselling. I also went into a 3 week treatment program that was incredibly eye opening. Although it was only every couple months, the point was i had an addiction that i was constantly defeated by. My main focus was to learn how to overcome that addiction. I know that i'm there now, and that i stay there by being committed to a program.
Ya that's kind of what i was thinking too, my birthday is next week and im taking my son for the night and going for supper with my family. She's close with my parents and i considered inviting her for supper. But i'm not sure that is the best way to go about it. So i wsa thinking of inviting her for an Iced tea nightcap later that evening. No bringing up our issues, just have some laughs for an hour. I've seen a huge change in her over the past 5 days since i reached out to her, i know that i genuinely showed her the best of me that night. She's asked for a couple more months to decide, i think she's just afraid, she has been let down by me before and i know how much it hurt her. Which is why i want to find ways to "softly" show her these changes in person. I know she sees them right now, there's no way she can't, but i know her walls are only starting to come down and hence why i want to find non threatening or pushy ways to engage her while still respecting her need for time and space.
I know that at some point she is going to have to get off the fence and either commit to making our marriage work or not. I know it's unrealistic that time is now, i just want her to see what she needs of me for when that time comes.
And it's been 60 days clean of everything. I never really had an issue with drinking, although it was always the catalyst to my drug use; so i suppose it's safe to say that it was as much of a problem as the drugs. I would occassionally go to the casino or play poker with the guys on saturday night. But again, i decided that everything had to go in order to truly eliminate the addiction from my life. No substituting, just do whatever was necessary to ensure my family gets the chance it deserves.
What was contained in that box was the very string that i held onto for the two months before i moved back to our hometown where she went when she left (we'd moved away for my work).
Shortly after she left, i went through alot of anger, desperation, shame and guilt. I felt severely betrayed, not that i didnt deserve, i knew i did, but betrayed nonetheless. The outpatient treatment program i went to was absolutely eye opening and forced me to actually deal with alot of the things in my life that i had neglected to deal with. Early on as i got my thoughts, emotions and head straight i realized there was alot of things in my marriage that my wife did or things that just happened that, because of my inability to properly process raw emotions, led me to hide inside myself, which in turn led to very destructive behaviour patterns. I still hold myself accountable for my actions but i'd be being a little too hard on myself if i didn't at least acknowledge that these very serious things did happen.
My wife and i had been unhappy together for sometime, i knew we loved each other, but i don't think either of us was putting any effort forward to strengthen it. We both did our own things and when that conflicted; we fought.
There was a point where i almost decided to just walk away, let her leave and go down without a fight. I could not get over my own emotions and feelings, i wanted to find someone else to put the blame on or share the blame. I was starting to get reconnected with God and was being daily bombarded with raw emotions some from the past some from the present. But i was deterrmined to deal with each and every one of them. It was incredibly rough, thus far my wife would barely take my phone calls, reply to text messages, and i was hearing all sorts of bad coming out of friends and family. It really did look as desperate as i'd ever seen anything. We have a 15 month old son together and so obviously that made it even harder. Some of the things would hurt so bad, i didn't feel like i had a secret or ounce of dignity left in the world. It had all been stripped away from me.
I sat down one night and i asked myself. Do i love her enough to genuinely change myself without gaurantee of a happy ending? Do i love her enough to face the pain, the shame, the guilt and the embarrassment? Do i love her enough to demonstrate that love when all i get is a slap in the face back? Do i love her enough to accept what i've done and be man enough to allow her to experience this process and her emotions her own way?
The question was an astounding yes to all. I was so excited because for the first time i'd realized how much i truly loved my wife, a love that was so much more than just "i love you", all of the pain and raw emotion that i'd let escape from my soul felt like it was being filled with a raw, uncut, pure love for my wife. I just simply had no idea what to do with it, or how to process it. I also never realized the sacrifices that that love would demand i make.
I realized that i needed to learn what this love i felt was, what did it mean, what should i do with it, and most importantly how do i show her that love? It was also accompanied with feelings of what if this doesn't work; i'll be the most vulnerable person in the world, what if she won't love me this way back?
I found the 40 Day Love Dare, watched the fireproof movie and cried. I realized that it was unlikely that just doing a bunch of random nice things was going to entirely fix my marriage, but i was excited of the prospect of a) doing something genuinely romantic that would push myself to be what i knew i wanted to be and b) spending that length of time focusing on love, learning what it meant and rooting it in Christ. I literally watched the movie almost everyday, some days the journey was terrible, i received amost all rejection, all anger, and nothing really got better. She was still moving into her own apartment with my son, she was still not talking to me (this gradually went from 0 to maybe a little bit of occassional), she hadn't asked for divorce but i was sure she was contemplating it.
I realized that as a young man who grew up without a father, never witnessed a healthy marriage; that i really had no clue what all of this marriage stuff meant. I really didn't know what iw as doing. I was selfish, self centered, lazy, and thought that working like a rented dog to provide for my family meant that when i got home at the end of the day, MY job was done. As i said incredibly self centered and down right clueless.
I started reading every book on marriage and rebuilding, and love that i could get my hands on, somedays i would have to go back to chapters, if it was a day off, twice because i'd pound through a book in hours. The more i did the love dare (which all of it was rejected), somehow the more my love grew. there was a saying that really caught my attention "what you invest your time, money and effort into will become your focus." I can't remember exactly the quote but it made alot of sense to me.
With each passing day the thought of her got me so excited that i kept thinking of new crazy ways to express my love. The reality is that it was i who needed to genuinely change to make sure this happened, and i was determined at all costs to make sure that it did.
i'll split the post up now and start another one so it's not so long
As the date neared that my wife was to be moving on her own, i started making trips to our hometown with our furniture. She'd already long since moved most of what she wanted out with her parents, i let her take whatever she wanted, i'd been sleeping for a month on an air mattress while our bed sat in her parents garage waiting for her to get her place. I had no pots and pans, it was degrading. But nonetheless one day one of the dares was how you can meet one of your spouses greatest needs. I looked around and thought to myself my actions ahve taken my wife and sons home from them ( to this day i dont blame her for what she did), so i decided right then and there that i was going to give as much of it as i could to her, with no gaurantee that she take me back. i really was willing to start my life over and still am if this doesn't work out. I worked all week and then started making the trip home on weekends (8 hours round trip) bringing stuff into her apartment before she moved in (she moved into apartments my step dad runs, so i was able to get access.), i took the drapes down in our apartment and lived completely exposed to the neighbourhood, the new couch, big screen tv, kitchen table, lamps, lights, cleaning supplies, dish supplies, everythin i could think of that i knew she would need and thus not have to spend money on. I bought toys for my son and bought letters and painted them blue that spelled his name out. Two days before she moved in i went home after a day of work through the week, hung all the blinds, setup the furniture, my sons room, bought her shower drapes, toilet supplies and all that fun jazz, i stocked her cupboards and fridge with food and got her a new tv stand for the big screen so that our son wouldnt be able to get at it on a coffee table or something. I put in a 21 hour day that day, and the next day she blasted me for doing everything, saying she never asked for any of it and that i only did it so i could throw it in her face. That was one of the most devastating moments and i came close to lashing out viciously but i decided that wasn't my wife, it was just her anger coming out.
A friend said to me that when the villian does nice things it's hard to keep looking at them like the villian.
so anyways............what was in the box.................i wanted to set the standard so you could apprecaite the effort that went into the box and the place in my heart in which it came from.
On the 40th day of the love dare, my wife was in her apartment now and i'd asked the day before if i could come over and show her something. Surprisingly she agreed wihtout argument.
I came over that night, (i'd come by earlier that day to take my son for the night), i spoke to her about my feelings, my desires and then i got on my knees and apologized for everything i'd done to hurt her and our marriage. She cried, but still would barely look at me. At the end i asked for her forgiveness, i knew i wouldnt get it right away and she still hasnt given it but i hope some day she will, preferrably sooner than later . I asked her to watch this movie and when she was done to open this box that the box was the only way that i could show her my heart.
On the box was a letter i wrote to her, and inside the box was three layers. The top layer was 4 roses, each with a tag, a blue one that said to the mother of my son, a red one that said to my lover, a pink one that said to my wife, and a yellow/orange one that said to my best friend. (i'd told her right before that she was so much more than just my wife.). After you peeled the second layer was the 40 day love dare journal i'd journalled everyday and a note about a bunch of dares not being able to save our marriage but that the journey likely saved me. Beside it was a book called Good Husband, Great Marriage. The one book that honestly changed the way i viewed everything. There was a couple things in there for the wives that i wanted her to read so i marked them off, namely about demanding from your husband everything you deserve in life. Underneath that was a scrapbook of our life memories, wedding, birth of our son, and on and on, covered in plastic rose petals, underneath that in the third layer was about 15 books on marriage that i'd gone through and a note that explained to her that if i'm given the chance, i won't make the same mistakes and i was determined on that front.
There's alot more but you get the jist. At the end when i was leaving she began to lash out and said some pretty hurtful things. I took it, i knew the place in which they were coming from, in the past it would have gone alot differently. Maybe she was trying to find out if i was genuine about this new me, maybe she was just unable to process my apology, i'm sure it stripped her instantly of some of the anger.
Were still not back together (this was just a week ago), but 3 days after she texted me to apologize for the things she said, and said that she wasn't throwing in the towel on our marriage just yet but that she needed more time to see the change in me. Were not really moving forward with together time, but i've seen what i call the biggest and most drastic improvement in her in the past week, i knew were entirely in the right direction. Each day she softens, and each day i start to feel as if the pain and suffering, the sacrifice, the rejection i endeared for 40 days will be worth it in a way i possibly havent yet imagined.
Believe in love, and act on it before it's too late.
Not that i have a huge leg to be standing on but i feel good about the progress and i fully appreciate how hard the darkest times are, the times where hope and faith seem like only words.
Although i did all of these things, the biggest thing i did was genuinely make the improvements in myself that needed to be made. I have never once pretended we weren't where we were, i have never once tried to play games, i've been honest with the few chances i had, and i had to find ways to demonstrate the change in myself.
My wife i know has seen it, she's just processing the believing part. It takes time. These other things were nice additions to my efforts and i'm sure they made a difference for her. But every single thing i've done was initially met with sheer anger and rage. But the more i continued to put myself out there and almost truck ahead despite all the anger, the more i could see things in her happening that needed to happen.
The love dare is something you do for yourself, it really is based on faith that God will provide if you truly seek him out. Remember, it teaches you to love even when you receive none in return.
Good luck to you and i'll try to keep things posted as they develope.