So, I moved back in with my husband.
Yes, back in. I had moved out last January, over a year ago, on the day before our 25th anniversary. As of today, I’ve been back here two weeks.
I honestly believe that, if I hadn’t moved out, we would have ended up in divorce court, rather than what we’re doing now. And what we’re doing now is getting along and communicating better than we have in the entire time we’ve known each other. A few months ago, he said he’d really like it if I moved back in, and asked me to do just that. I started spending about half the week here, every week. Now I’m back. Completely. Well, mostly completely. Not all of my stuff is here, but I’m here.
Things had not been right for 25 years, and every attempt to fix things that we tried — lots of marriage books, classes & seminars on marriage, even some counseling — every attempt failed, nearly completely. Oh, there were some short-term benefits, but the authors/teachers/counselors either focused on superficial things and never really got to the problem, or they assumed the problem was something that really wasn’t, in our case. So any “fix” was only temporary, because the base causes were never addressed. Why didn’t we fix it on our own? Because we never recognized what the problem was.
Turns out that one of the biggest things we needed to do was to get out of each other’s face — completely out — so we could learn to clearly see each other. Note that I didn’t use the word “again” — because we’d never done. Things had never been good, really, and with so many years of hurt and disappointment between us, it was impossible to see anything else. So, I moved out. And the reaction from many people in our church was not helpful at all – I don’t want to get into specifics, but the recurring theme was that we were wrong and sinful to be living separately (Bible verses were quoted, which I still believe did not apply) and that I should immediately move back in. As if my moving out was the problem and everything would be fixed if we were under one roof. Well-meaning people, but they clearly had no understanding of our situation. Being in the same house together had been utterly failing to fix anything for 25 years. Obviously, drastic measures were needed. I moved out.
I’ve never been mistaken for a social butterfly, but this was a pretty lonely year, with most people I knew in the area barely talking to me — admittedly, it was mostly because they probably just didn’t know what to say. I started leaving almost immediately after worship on most Sundays to avoid standing around by myself — or getting cornered by the rare, brave person who would venture to offer advice, which was not what I needed. Friendship was what I needed. I started spending more time “chatting” with people I knew from the internet, because they were friendly and non-judgemental.
Eventually, we were approached by a couple from our congregation who wanted to help, using videos from a seminar they’d found helpful themselves. Based on our experience with “marriage help” materials in the past, we were dubious, but each of us was willing to try if the other was. But, this couple didn’t know us very well, and as such, they didn’t feel they “had a right” I guess, to come to us like this, so they first wanted to remedy that situation. They wanted to start by spending time with each of us, separately. They had me over for dinner a couple times and we sat and talked for hours. They did something similar with my husband. I now consider them to be friends, and not merely acquaintances.
The videos were from a seminar called Love and Respect, and I have nothing but praise for them. It’s a Bible-based program, but I believe even non-Christians would find it helpful. They really opened my eyes to what I’d been doing wrong. There have been huge changes in how my husband interacts with me, occasionally putting me to shame when I realize he’s trying harder than I am sometimes. He’s become very thoughtful, kind and loving, and tries to accommodate my different needs, and I’ve been able to see how I’ve failed in giving what he needs. We actually talk and discuss things, instead of assuming we know what the other really meant by that, or jumping to conclusions. Neither of us dreads the other one coming home any longer. It’s actually pleasant to spend time in each other’s company.
I think this might be how marriage is supposed to work. If not, it’s close enough for me.
Favorite word of the post: respect
Least favorite word of the post: well-meaning