I haven’t been the best wife and partner, honestly. And this is the story about how I’m going to change that.
My husband and I have been married for a year, and we’re celebrating our anniversary with family. The first year, honestly, had the makings of a bumpy ride that comes from an already-lengthy partnership, as we’ve already been together over 6 years. I was frustrated that we were always struggling financially despite me having ample work at the time and it basically cost me the freedom to actually live. I wanted to travel with him and encourage him to see there’s more to life than just stressing over work and lack of finances day after day.
This man sacrificed a lot for his kids, and for a while I let that get to me. He could have been the type of man that bails on his responsibilities but he’d always put his kids and others before his own needs. So, I eventually realized that it made more sense for me to try to help him rather than mourn over the reality that we wouldn’t get to have any focus on what we’d like to do until the kids were independent.
That’s even more patience I didn’t know if I had.
This past year has been tricky with his kids too because one was speeding towards adulthood without a reasonable clue as to how “not cool” it can be to have to be a responsible major. The other was just “teenagery” and we just really didn’t get along (though we are actively working on that, I’m happy to report). I felt powerless and unappreciated as a stepmom and a general part of the household. Every Wednesday or Friday I’d have to make dinner or take everyone out so my husband could focus on quality time with his kids, and oftentimes it felt like it was in vain because they’d all sit on phones and tablets instead of talking to each other.
But suddenly, none of that mattered because I realized he’s incredibly important and I haven’t been telling him that. Sometimes I tell him the opposite of that because I get frustrated with not being able to have the life I wanted because I was always stopping to help him along the way. I felt like I was always on the back burner while he handled his business. I wanted to be able to have my turn for being taken care of or just being able to be selfish for a while because I had to carry so much weight before we got traction. And then it would be taken away again by some unexpected (or predicted) events like me not having enough work or him getting yet another summons that he has to prioritize over everything and handle. Or huge unexpected expenses due to home repairs and what have you. In short, we were always “adulting”. We weren’t having much fun. It took a toll on all of the household population.
Me not being content was not my husband’s fault, though. That is 100% on me. I could excuse whatever unpredictable events we would encounter because neither of us could predict some of them. It was what it was. But it wasn’t his fault.
The level of “suck” or “boring” in my life is 100% on me.
The things I don’t accomplish in life is 100% on me.
My ability to be happy is 100% on me.
My imagined resentment towards the uneventful nature of my marriage is my own fault. My husband is who he is and at the end of the day there was one point in my life when I was single and he was single and I had to make a decision. It wasn’t a small decision either and one I probably would have executed differently (and sooner). I regret that I did not get my shit together faster after a heavy breakup but I do know it was still the right path for me before I made that choice. I needed to be whole again.
I tried to fix myself while fumbling through learning to grow up fast. I was a late bloomer and my 20’s weren’t too kind to me, so I wanted to change that. I wanted to be someone my parents would be proud to talk about. I never felt like talking about me was easy to do. I was always a fuckup and never listened when I was being told the right way to do things. I was like that kid in “A Christmas Story” that decided to lick the frozen pole. Except repeatedly.
I met my husband around late 2009 or early 2010 through an online war game and we would chat quite a bit, but it was always platonic. I was in the middle of leaving an abusive relationship and he didn’t judge me for my situation, which was probably the most supportive thing someone could have done for me at the time. He had no agenda other than being a genuinely good person and friend.
I was at this crossroads with my him around 2011 where we had known each other a while but I was single and trying to live on my own (with roommates) and get my own identity. I realized that the decision to live with someone was good because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as far as settling down roots. I was 30 and I hadn’t figured it out yet. But I was really certain I wanted to use that window of opportunity to work towards saving up to travel and visit him for a few months and “test drive” whether or not we’d work as more-than-friends. I was interested in him and it felt like a disservice to ignore it.
So, I spent a ton of effort to try to save up to visit him. I brought up the idea to him and he kind of went quiet on me. He was up to it after an awkward silence that lasted more than a day. Long story short, I stalled. I stalled because when he hesitated it made me think I wasn’t good enough for him and I started making excuses why I couldn’t go. I didn’t know that I was entirely wrong about how he’d respond to me.
I got it together and one fateful night came in February 2012 where he told me he was robbed at gunpoint for the second time since I’ve known him. I booked a flight. I didn’t even really think about it. I landed in South Africa a little less than three hours before his 40th birthday in early May.
And you know what? He accepted me unconditionally from the moment we were face to face, and I have never known what that was like and how special he was for it. I have yet to leave South Africa and I’m itching like crazy because I would love to explore the world with him. My roots are here now, but there’s so much to see, you know?
Now we have a two-month-old baby that we have to care for, but she’s our niece, so I can’t just travel freely or really be off of a leash until some things are ironed out. I know it sounds bad, but I’m leashed to the house and a new responsibility. So, I have to take care of her without much of a breather because I’m dealing with figuring out a complete shift in my career at 37. I’m pretty terrified. I have been out of work for several days and only had one more paycheck coming. And now it seems like the worst time to finally push for a career that makes me happy.
Despite my fears, he’s been supportive of that process. He’s watched me sit here and use the last of my guaranteed funds to make sure we were ahead of the game with non-perishables and other household goods as well as the baby. He knows I will grab as many gigs as I can to get once-off (and sometimes recurring) sales from people that need writers. He knows I will hustle like the best of them to keep providing and helping.
He thinks I really could be a writer, especially seeing how often I was paid to ghostwrite love stories (and sometimes erotica). So, what better love story to start with but my own?
It’s like the wedding speech I never got to give. I never got to tell everyone how important he was to me, and that I snagged a good one. Hell, a great one. A responsible one. A guy that genuinely doesn’t like to lie. A guy that bends over backward for his kids. A guy that just needed someone to lift him up so he could see the potential he has. I realized he was showing me that he wants to build our empire by lifting me right now. I’ve just been too busy feeling like my life was uneventful.
I’m the one sitting here stalling again, and I need to learn from how I lost so much time I could have already been with him and focusing on being happy. The career change would make me happy. I think It’s just a bit scary for me right now because I really don’t want to fail. I know I can be doing more with my life than I am now because there’s no way in hell that I was ever raised to be simple. I want complexity. Exploration. Lots of travel for us and the kids….cause, face it. We’re not going to be able to travel alone until we’re far older now. We can take advantage of the opportunity to show the kids more of the world so they can expand their horizons earlier in life. I was fortunate to have a taste of that as a kid. I want it on a higher level for our kids.
So, I am taking a leap and he’s right by my side, cheering me on. He’s just quieter than I hoped for and I misinterpreted it. Now I understand. He’s been showing me that he just wants me to be me and for me to do what makes me happy. He wants to see me happy- and in that way, he’s putting me first. I’ve been stubborn and not actually seeing it for what it was. He’s never gotten in the way of what will make me happy. I’ve done that all by myself.
I didn’t appreciate him enough for that, and I’m going to start working on that. That rough time I had in life….well, it’s still a part of me. There’s still this struggle to fully accept myself, and seeing how my husband has accepted me as I was no matter how ugly it got, made me realize I just need to do better for myself if I want to make our marriage stronger. He already loves me unconditionally and I echo that. I just need to do better by showing him and proving to myself that I can be whatever I really want to be if I just try harder.
This is why I know I made the right choice when I booked that flight. Anyone else would have expected me to change for them. My husband loved me unconditionally and made me want to change for myself too. We’re already six years in and I want to make the rest of the years the best of the years. He took a leap of faith when he decided to dedicate himself to me as well. I need to do better to help lift him, lift myself, and set an example for these kids. We have an empire to run.
Every time I feel like my life is stale I will turn around and remind myself that I am in complete control of that. I can do whatever the fuck I want and it’s because I have the best partner that I could have asked for. I need to show him more often that I realize that. I need to show him how much I appreciate him and everything he was and is. I guarantee it will change our lives completely.
I need to do better, and I will. I know I have a long way to go but I’m going to run towards that cliff and just hope the parachute works because we don’t have unlimited stays on this planet. We don’t get to really know what the end game is so it’s just time to create my love story the way it’s supposed to be written. I love that my husband gets to be my Player Two. I wouldn’t want to take this journey with anyone else.
When I win, we both win.
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