About 20 years ago my husband and I were at breaking point.
We had been together for 15 years, married for 13, and had two boys who were 11 and nine at the time. Our relationship had been straining for months for all sorts of reasons.
Money, work, life, routine, a lack of intimacy… All the usual suspects had crept into our relationship and made being together difficult.
We were both working full time and trying to balance being their for our boys and earning enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table. As a teacher I was able to take care of getting the boys to and from school and was home in time to make dinner.
The problem with that was that I felt like everything was on me. My husband didn’t walk through the door until 6pm every night, so I cooked every meal, tidied up the house, and made sure the kids did their homework.
Of cause it was unfair of me to resent him for this – he couldn’t help that he finished work late – but I still held it against him.
For his part, he was annoyed that I was always snapping at him, after all, he worked hard everyday to earn a living and support us. I had no interest in sex as I was so tired all the time and when I wanted to go out and do something on the weekend, he wanted to wind down and relax at home.
It wasn’t working.
We broached the subject a few times before it all came to a head one night. I asked him if he had paid the phone bill on his lunch break like I’d asked and when he told me he’d forgot, I lost it.
I started screaming at him and threw the dirty plates from dinner into the sick causing them to smash into pieces. I was sick of having to do everything on my own, I told him. Why was everything always on me? What was he doing to help?
Instead of backing down he came back at me just as loud. I was impossible to live with, he said. All I ever did was criticise and snap and complain. He couldn’t take it anymore.
We went to bed furious and slept in separate rooms that night. After a few days we’d cooled down and sat down ‘the talk’.
We spoke for over an hour about our problems everything that was wrong. The way we were talking, we were heading towards a breakup. Neither of us was happy and it was clear to us it wasn’t going to work.
But what about our boys? The tension between us was already affecting them; our youngest’s grades were slipping and our oldest who was usually so placid had been caught up in a fight at school.
How could we do this to them? We couldn’t.
We decided to wait six months and see if anything changed, see what we could work out. It was tense, but we got through it so we decided to try another six months.
We were conscious of all the things we had been doing to annoy each other and tried to do better. For about three and half years, things went on like this. We fought sometimes, laughed a little and were rarely close.
Then, somehow, things began to change. The boys were older now and were more independent. It didn’t feel like our lives revolved around their every move like it used to.
We found we had time to go do things on our own. My husband had been promoted, which meant more money and less financial pressure.
We started to enjoy each others’ company again and laugh like we used to. For the first time in a long time, I felt happy again and so did he.
Now, our boys are grown and have moved out. Our eldest has a beautiful baby boy of his own and our youngest just got engaged. My husband and I are probably the happiest we’ve ever been and spending time together is a joy.
Yes we still bicker sometimes like every couple, but we are best friends again I can’t imagine it being any other way.
I’m so grateful everyday that we stuck it out for our boys. Who knows where I’d be or what my life would be like if we’d given up all those years ago.
I know a few other couples who have been through the same thing, so I guess this is just a part of life for many people.
I’m thankful every day that my story turned out the way it did.