Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Love is a decision.

Love is a decision.

And so is this blog entry. You can choose to make the decision to read it or ignore it. Please realize this is a very personal story that tells of my personal life and also includes my opinions, feelings and beliefs. Enter at your own risk.

As many of you have may or may not have speculated, the past 5 months of Jared and I’s marriage has been what you could call rocky. Scratch that, on the brink of death. Separated and very close to divorce only a few weeks ago. We have been through a lot of hurt, disappointment, mistrust, painful judgement and miscommunication. It has been extremely challenging to say the least, and many times, I was unsure which direction to go. In fact, for those that knew a little about what has been going on, this will be news to you. For others that had no idea, this will be even bigger news. I am a writer for a living, yet this writing is not for advertising or business purposes, it is from the heart. Therefore, it will have flaws and opinions you may or may not agree with. Why share it for the world to see? The answer is easy. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time he may exalt you. -Peter 5:6

I’m not looking for a pat on the back, or any kind of reward for sharing my story. In fact, I will most likely be judged and talked down upon. Some will think I am foolish, or that Jared and I are both foolish. I might even lose the support of some of my friends, but that’s alright with me. My life is mine to live. For so long, I have often worried about what others think of me and have always tried to live the norm, go with the flow and let others strongly influence my beliefs. At the age of 28, it’s time to take the reigns of my own life. God has moved me to write this, for whatever reason. If I can touch one hurting couple, that’s all I ask for. If I don’t, it will still be a healing tool for me, and hopefully my marriage.

Society promotes that divorce is acceptable, and it is okay to give up on it when you are faced with difficult situations, sadness or loneliness. I was a believer of divorce and thought it was totally fine, too. That if you weren’t happy, it was simple to get out and the answer was simply to get out. I am here to go against society and stand up for marriage. As a disclaimer, I will state I don’t believe all marriages should be saved. There are circumstances where divorce, in my mind, may be necessary. Everyone deserves to be happy as well as loved.

In the days leading up to the actual filing of our divorce, Jared and I met one evening to discuss custody arrangements, who would get the house and how we would go about filing and the divorce process. We talked about how we saw the future going as we tried to raise Dakota to the best of our abilities as single parents. This was the first time in 5 months we had sat down to have a discussion and actually communicate, believe it or not. After leaving our meeting, I thought I would feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. Like finally, decisions were being made and we could move on with our lives. Instead, I stayed up all night tossing and turning with an insane stress twitch in my lower left eye. This continued for days. Why was I feeling so much emptiness, sadness, stress and heartbreak? Shouldn’t the end being so near feel exhilarating? I spent 5 months making myself believe we were better off divorced, and how it would just be easier to start life anew considering the challenges and hurt we had been through. But the fact remained, whether I was willing to admit it or not: I knew my life would not be the same without my best friend, and I would miss him. And that I did in fact, never stop loving him.

In one last final attempt, I asked Jared to go to a weekend marriage retreat with me. He had asked me to go a while ago, but I just blew him off. In my mind, we were hopeless. After all, it was a program organized by the Catholic church and religion was a huge hurdle in our marriage. I didn’t want to spend a weekend being pressured to convert to Catholicism, or for them to tell me that if I was Catholic, I wouldn’t be having problems in the first place...the scenarios of the program ran the gamut in my mind, including thinking I would be locked into a room in a cult-like fashion and be forced to go through reconciliation. Okay, perhaps the last was a bit dramatic thinking on my part. I had read on their website many lawyers and judges send couples to the program as a prerequisite to filing for a divorce or rendering final decisions. In a way, I felt it one last final effort. I knew it wouldn’t be a miracle cure, but I had a hint of effort still left in me. I didn’t want to give up just quite yet.

Jared agreed to go, and the week leading up to the weekend was fairly nerve-racking. Much like preparing for a job interview or starting a new job, not having any idea what is in store for you or any indication of what will go on. It was like being lost in the dark, feeling for your way around.

As we walked up to check in, I had a feeling everyone was judging us. Going in, I knew we had many handicaps--knowing our past problems, me not being Catholic and us being young. But as I entered the gathering room, I was shocked at how many chairs were set up and the couples that were entering. There were sad couples, old couples, young couples, couples that would not even talk to each other and couples that were fake with each other. Couples I would later find out were already going through the divorce process and were awaiting their court date. Parents, atheists, career-driven workaholics. A feeling of ease and commodore took over me. What do you know, there ARE other couples out there that were on the brink just like us, couples that brought an insane amount of hurt too that weekend, willing to try with courage. Banners hung reading “The past is passed, let’s begin again”. There were boxes upon boxes of Kleenex at the ready, and right then and there, I realized this weekend was not going to be a cake walk.

Neither is marriage. Love is a decision.

Throughout the weekend, we listened to real life, heartbreaking stories of presenting couples. Stories you thought were completely in possible to overcome. We cried. We laughed. We struggled. We surrendered. We communicated. Communication was not something Jared and I had done well. In fact, the only things we “communicated” about was what to have for dinner, what was on TV or what Dakota ate that day. Communication is the #1 reason for divorce, that is no mystery. Jared and I were living proof of that and were about to become another statistic.

While details of the program wish to remain confidential, we walked away from the program feeling refreshed and encouraged with some tools that would help us get back on the right track with a lot of hard work and determination. We were hopeful, despite all the bad things that had happened to us. Despite all the hurt. In no way did the program provide a miracle cure or solve all our problems in one weekend. There is still a lot of hurt to heal. With ourselves, each other and with our families. Admitting faults and problems is hard to do as humans. So is feeling vulnerable. Worries and anxieties remain. After all, you are never 100% sure about any decision you make in life. But this program gave a few tools to communicate, hope for a better tomorrow, and provided us with the enlightenment that with God’s grace, anything is, in fact possible. Retrouvaille gave us the opportunities to open up and share our feelings with each other, even when we differ. It’s a simple concept, but one that is so easily lost or forgotten.

As we drove home from our weekend, we both knew the stresses of everyday, real life were waiting for us back home. What if we would slip back into laziness? What if we forgot the tools? Work, Dakota, dogs, house, bills, responsibilities. Again we became nervous and apprehensive. But for the first time in our 5 years of marriage, we were able to communicate with each other our feelings with each other and were encouraged to be open and honest and therefore, accepted. Because after all, isn’t that we really want in life? To be able to be accepted for who we are and accepted despite our flaws and whether our feelings are right or wrong?

One personality trait that has never faltered throughout my life is my optimism. Even when others try to drag me down with their pessimism and unpleasant outlook, I usually always try to find the positive side and the hope for a better future. Those other hurting couples were an inspiration for my own marriage, and knowing they were going through the same trials and tribulations was inspiring. I know we are not alone. I know now there are second chances in life, even third and fourths. I see obstacles as opportunities. I am seeking inner peace, one day at a time. God brought us to sit next to each other at Retrouvaille, that is no coincidence, for that I am certain. Perhaps we had to fall to the bottom before being brought back up for air. We have not finished the program, and we will never finish the work. I am not perfect. Jared is not perfect. Marriage is not 50/50, it is 100/100. It takes two. I am grateful for the hope I have and I’m looking forward to continuing the hard work of marriage with my husband, one communicative and forgiving day at a time. I pray that God will give us the blessings to change, to listen, to forgive, and most of all, hope that our marriage will heal and our family will remain whole and holy.

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed
that with the sun's love
in the spring
becomes the rose.

On the way home from our weekend, I ironically saw a billboard advertising a lawyer that stated “complete divorce: $500”. If it were writing a Master Card commercial, I would end that with “saving your marriage: priceless.”

Thank you for taking the time to read my note. If you have gotten this far, I thank you for being open minded and willing to read my voice. I would also like to thank my family and friends for being supportive regardless of the decisions I make in my life and standing by me. That takes a lot of strength, and supporting without judgement regardless of decisions made is insanely beautiful. And thank you Jared, for taking that leap of faith and sitting next to me at the retreat.

If you have any questions about the Retrouvaille program, please feel free to contact me or Jared. No questions asked, and without judgement. You can also visit their site at www.retrouvaille.org.

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