Originally posted on Kelly Halldorson Uncensored – original photos have been removed and/or replaced.
I have wanted to write about this for a year now but I’ve been too overcome with emotion to actually sit down and do it. There was also the fact that part of me wasn’t convinced things were going to work out. The last thing I wanted to do was write about how wonderful things were in my marriage and what a good thing we did for our kids by working through our problems only to see it all dissolve shortly afterwards.
In August of 2008 my husband Jeff left us. He moved out, for the most part, only staying at home a few nights a week. He had a midlife crisis of sorts, complete with an affair with an ex-girlfriend. He wanted something completely different for his life and that something different didn’t involve me or any kind of family life. He even rented a place of his own in another town leaving us to figure things out. It was all really bad and we all suffered for it including Jeff.
I was told by most people (including the therapist I started to see) that it was for the best or people just grow apart or you shouldn’t have to put up with him and my favorite the kids will be fine. The people that weren’t encouraging me to throw in the towel for my own good were telling me it was all my fault. That if I had been a better wife he would have never left and I should hurry up get a job, put my kids in public school and suck it up.
I crumbled from the pressure. I sunk lower than I ever have in my life. I spent a few days in a psychiatric hospital. When I emerged, I decided to say screw everyone! Except my kids, Jeff and the few people I knew would listen. I read a ton. I picked up Michelle Weiner-Davis’ books Divorce Busting and Divorce Remedy. I read If the Buddha Married. I went online and found everything I possibly could about midlife crisis and worked hard at managing my own emotions. I dropped everything I was working on. I only talked to people that were supportive and positive. I took the kids to hockey and homeschool groups. I started working part-time for my aunt and tried to give Jeff his space while maintaining my intention of saving our marriage.
Jeff wanted no part of fixing things most of the time but there were moments he did. I did my best to hold onto those moments. I was clear with the kids throughout. I wanted to stay with dad. He didn’t want to stay married to me. I was going to do my best to change his mind.
I think I need to add. My desire to stay with Jeff had nothing to do with fear of being alone or any kind of co-dependency. I knew I wouldn’t have to be alone. I could find someone if that is what I wanted. It had to do with my love for our family. My love and concern for my friend, Jeff. And my loyalty to the commitment I had made.
I was also clear with Jeff. I want to be married to you. You are hurting me but I understand you need time. I wish I could help you. When he told me the kids would be fine, I’d respond with something like I know you think that but I know that is not the case. They are not fine. You are hurting them.
I wasn’t always together. I wasn’t always able to keep it together. I did of lot of crying. I still cry. I feel the tears swelling and the lump in my throat but it’s not for the pain of the past but for the joy of the present. Our life isn’t perfect but we have come so far and we have in the past year and a half grown so close. It’s a beautiful thing.
In November of 2008 the kids and I moved into the trailer Jeff had rented. We were all a family under one roof again. Much would come out over the next few months about what Jeff had done while we were in the midst of our partial separation but we did our best to work through it.
And on March 6, 2009 we celebrated out 13th Anniversary.
Instead of going out just the two of us, we decided to let the kids have an opportunity to get out too. Jeff and I gave the kids each $10 and dropped them at the mall so they could eat, hangout and maybe buy something small for themselves.
While the kids had their adventure in the mall we went to Chipotle for dinner, hit Regal for a movie and Barnes & Noble. The kids were supposed to meet us over at Barnes & Noble after the mall closed (it’s all within walking distance). We had a wonderful night together talking and relaxing. We were happy just being together and enjoying a low-key evening as a couple.
We were nearing the time the kids were suppose to meet us at B&N. Jeff and I looked too each other and decided it to surprise the kids on their walk back. But we ended up being the ones surprised. We only made it about 20 feet away from the B&N entrance before we noticed the kids. They were walking, smiling and laughing together. It was such a beautiful sight. They caught of glimpse of us and looked at each other and hid stuff behind their backs.
Suddenly it dawned on us. Jeff and I looked at each other. My heart leaped and I saw the recognition in Jeff’s eyes. They had gotten something for us. They had used the money we had given them to have some fun…to get something for us.
That will probably remain one of the most cherished moments I have ever experienced as a mother. The months prior the kids had been moved out of their big house complete with their own rooms into a small beat up trailer. They had to deal with the months of instability. Money was so tight there had barely gotten anything for Christmas or their birthdays. They dealt with not knowing for sure whether or not their parents were going to work out their issues or not. They had really lost so much yet at 14, 12 & 11 years old they had proved themselves to be incredibly both strong and mature.
We could not have been more surprised. Jeff and I didn’t give them the money to get us something we wanted them to have fun. So, we walked together back into Barnes and Noble where we sat and opened the presents they had gotten for us.
There was a mug for each of us. Mine was a really cool artsy mug they had remembered I liked from a previous mall visit but thought it was too expensive (apparently it was on clearance when they bought it!). Jeff’s mug was of course was a superman mug.
But the best part of their gift, besides having gotten us anything to begin with or besides seeing them happy and laughing together…was the card. The front of the card reads “To a Perfect Pair. Like movies and popcorn, Like thank you and please, Like Salsa and chips, macaroni and cheese, Like top Hats and tuxes, Like snow and cold weather, Like champagne and roses…” and inside “You two go together. Happy Anniversary”
And it was signed.
Thank-you for staying a family!!
Thank-you for Sticking Totether
(pardon the spelling Wolf)
I carry that card in my purse every day.
Jeff often tells me I’m his hero, that I saved our family. I didn’t do anything other than be a friend to him and I wasn’t even always that good at it. Thankfully, he saw the good in what we were together and came back to us. I am truly grateful to have Jeff as my husband and friend. I sometimes feel hurt by the pain of the past but it nowhere near compares to the happiness I experience when we have fun as a family, when we laugh together, when he makes bread or homemade fried dough for us, when cuts wood to keep us warm or when he makes me fresh-squeezed lemonade.
I’m no hero. The real heroes in this story are our children. They showed us how powerful we are together.
Wishing you peace in your love,
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