The reality is: it’s just hard and I was afraid of judgement…so I decided that while everything was so raw I needed to keep it quietly to myself.
BUT… I do want to share with you…because you supported me even when I was sharing my worst, and because you continue to come back even though I’ve stopped talking about it, and it because it really is therapeutic.
So here’s where we are at:
Marriage counselling is wonderful…truly life changing. Our counselor, PL, is amazing and wise and funny and exactly what we need as we navigate this very tricky path.
Our first few sessions with him were about the dirty details. We went through the events, as they unfolded, and how we felt. We went through our histories and our childhoods. We expressed all of our negative emotions and shared how it made us feel. These sessions were so, so hard and so, so emotional (I shed A LOT of tears). He asked us difficult questions, and we gave difficult answers. It was the most challenging time…but also the most relieving: everything was finally out in the open and there were no more secrets. At the end of each appointment he gave us a simple task (go on one date and only talk about your favourite things, go see a movie together and dress up for it, go for a walk in the woods, etc).
Then he sat us down and we had the most difficult conversation of all. He explained that our marriage could not go back to the way it was, it was forever changed and if we wanted to go forward together we would need to build something new together, fall back in love, and start over. He made it so clear that we both had a choice to make – to stay or go, and we it was time to make that choice. This was the most emotional conversation, but we both whole heartedly agreed that we wanted to start over and move forward, together: married.
And so we are working on that. Carefully and intentionally rebuilding our marriage, and our life, and falling in love with each other all over again. PL is exactly right – we are different people now…and our relationship and our marriage is different now. The biggest challenge, for me, was letting go of what was, and past hurts, and moving forward. Through that, though, we’ve learned to speak our minds – honestly and openly, always. Even if it might anger the other. We’ve learned more about each other in the last 2 months than we had in the past 8 years. Open communication has been the biggest and best change we’ve made so far…and comes with just one rule: we are never, ever mean. We say what is on our minds, but only if it’s truthful and not hurtful. Through being kind to each other, I find being supportive, respectful and loving just comes naturally….and those are all the things I want my marriage to be.
I don’t want to paint a rosy picture that isn’t truthful: everything above is true, but it is also incredibly hard, emotional, messy and I am still sometimes so angry. I am working very hard at forgiveness…but it is not coming easily. All of the changes we have made did not happen overnight or easily, and came with immense effort on both of our parts. (Our lack of children has actually been a huge blessing right now, because it enables us to dedicate all of our time to this.) But we have learned just how strong we are, just how capable we are, and just how much we love each other – and those lessons are invaluable. I have learned so much about myself, about Mr. Big, and about us as a couple over the last few months and I look forward to the future so much now. We truly feel like we are on the right path, and that things are looking up.
In all this, what’s shocked me the most is how difficult marriage really is. We watch movies and shows, and it seems like marriage should just be effortless – something that just works or it doesn’t. But that’s not true at all, marriage requires a huge amount of effort – every single day for your entire life. You will always have to work to have a good marriage, but if the marriage is good then it will always be worth it.