Staying Together for the Kids

Staying Together for the Kids

Loveless And Lost

I scrambled my thoughts to decipher pros and cons to staying together. Being a young mom is unnerving enough without topping the label off to “single mom”. Have you ever found your heart crushed so badly that you can never imagine placing the shattered fragments back together? My entire being was tattered and shredded, and what was worse, I was seven months pregnant when he did what he did. Marriages are not perfect and the best take a lot of work, so how was mine different?

I come from a fairly religious Roman Catholic Italian family. Some of my family has strayed and does not follow the Catholic religion anymore, they have been Lutheran for years. However, the belief structure is much the same. I was to get married and stay married, divorce is no option. Divorce is wildly frowned down upon in my family’s culture. I was facing down the barrel of a loaded forty-five snub nose, just awaiting a twisting round to take me out. I have always done the right thing, in upholding the reputation of my family and their good standing. Italians are all about family, this is true, but they care very much about keeping up appearances for the masses.

I would currently consider myself the black sheep, red headed stepchild, never does what she should girl. It took years to get to that point. I just don’t care, but when I was in the darkest place of my life, these are the places and concerns my mind traveled to. I broadly considered my family and their wishes, knowing that I might be black balled. Being excluded is easily established in my world. My heart was already broken, and I was not sure it could withstand being disowned from my family too.

Relationship Red Flag!!!

My husband and I were never a truly well-matched couple, but we were young and ideally believed we could make it work. This relationship was always broken, but at the time of its demise, I was in denial of that truth. There is clarity in understanding and pulling off the rose-colored glasses, but that usually happens later in life when hind sight is 20/20. We were never a good match because, it was obvious that I was driven and motivated to be the best at whatever I tackled, not that this meant I would be, but I sure believed I could be. While my husband was, well, quite a bit less concerned with the future planning of our family.

What I don’t want to convey through this story is that my husband was some sort of monster. I have forgiven him and myself. I have moved forward with my life, and I am fine with how things worked out between us. I am at peace with all of it. This is far from a man bashing blog, and more about accountability on both sides. Ladies, we all make mistakes in life, and sometimes we make poor decisions too. Before we got married I felt deep in the core of my soul that it would not be forever. How many of you are in a relationship or marriage now, and you happen to be having that slight, but not so fleeting thought? Will that change? Probably not. In my current relationship those thoughts and feelings don’t arise.

I was sixteen and he was twenty-one when we first met. Clearly most of you reading this are thinking, “Well there is part of the problem right there…” and yes I would agree with you. My mind was blown by him and I was utterly impressed by his prowess and, well, let’s face it… his age. I mean, at this age, if he has a bad ass car we are in like Flynn, right? UUUGGGHHH! So idealistic and naive at that age. Of course, there is still the matter of my family pushing me towards college and the usual suspects involved with a girl getting a 4.8 GPA and graduating high school early. I have always been an over achiever, but not for myself, for my family. No one wants to disappoint when the spot light is forever foreshadowing their future. Here is my first screw up. Did I go? No, I didn’t. Was I accepted to an amazing college? Yes, I was. Was I stupid? Yep, that too. I was in love, so none of it mattered, not even what my family thought. This was the beginning of many black sheep disappointments I would be and I would create. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful feeling if family stopped pushing ideals and starting encouraging passions? The lack of pressure might have ensued and entirely different desire for my life’s outcome. Let’s be honest I would have gone straight to writing. I would have become a novelist. I would have followed a dream and a much different path. That is a story for another day though.

I graduated and we moved in together. Calculating the ways that I am screwing everything up yet? Moving in together was such a huge miscalculation on my part for a multitude of reasons. I was rarely carded when we would go out together. I suppose next to him I appeared old enough. We went out a lot and, no we could not afford it, but we did it anyway. I remember playing penny poker with our friends as a fun and cheap pastime too. However, there were weeks where we hoped and prayed we could earn enough to buy tacos or some other form of cheap fast food. The struggle was real. This went on for a few years, until he purposed, and eventually we got married.

I was thrilled that I had done something right in my family’s opinion. We waited to have kids until we were married. Well, woopty doo because, for all intents and purposes a piece of paper has no relevance as to who will become a good parent. After getting married we suffered many hardships, losing jobs, losing our house, lies and manipulation, death of his parents and sister. We had been through things that most young married couples might encounter, but we coped and handled things very different. He was more of a recluse personality and I was more of a social butterfly. I coped by moving forward, and he coped, if you can call it that, by reverting back into his shell. He mostly slept through the angst of marriage and his depression, and I suppressed mine.

I was told by three of his friends that throughout the course of our relationship he cheated on me. I was not surprised, but it was in the past and as long as I didn’t know about it, then I could continue to be in denial. We moved to Las Vegas from California to start a fresh new life, away from the temptations and misery that had befallen us so many times before. Yes, I can hear you thinking, “Las Vegas is not a place to move to get away from temptations!” Still calculating my mistakes? What number are we on now? You can probably stop calculating because, the number is nearly infinite.

By the time we made the decision to move our second pregnancy had come and gone. I had the misfortune of an ectopic pregnancy. I was blessed to have a negative blood type and miscarry the pregnancy before losing my Fallopian Tube. We got pregnant a year and a half later to discover we were having twins. We moved our little family to Las Vegas and we still live there to this day. I often say I had a life sentence here. The meaning of this statement will become clear soon enough. Moving to Las Vegas left us without friends and family, we were truly on our own. It was actually sort of wonderful. No outside influences or opinions from people who knew us, it was perfect. For the first time in years I could take a deep breath and feel that we might just make it.
How wrong I was.

I transferred employment and met the only friend I had for a couple of years. My husband found a job that he settled for, not making much money. This friend was the one person I could vent to and I did. My husband’s job was next to a strip club. This should always be a concern for any young couple, and gave me plenty of reason to confide in my only local friend. Since we did not have anyone we trusted to watch our then, ten month old twins, we worked alternating shifts. One of us was always home with the babies. One thing about my husband was that he was never great at holding down any job for any great length of time. I got him a job working for my company overnight, while I worked during the day. I will preface this with, it was not a casino job. I struggled for a few years with whether or not to stay together. He was unmotivated to provide for his family, as always, and I was exhausted because, I did.

My decision came with a long list of pros and cons, and the fear of being a single parent in a town where I was alone. You would think that in a few years in this city I would have made a bunch of friends, but that is easier said than done with my shifts and toddlers. I tried though. These were the days before social media, so I attempted the Mommy and Me play places, parks, and other forms of meeting mommy friends. These options left me empty handed, but I still had my friend at work.

I had decided that I missed the baby stage and that the twin’s first year was a bit of a blur. My husband and I discussed another baby. Yes, cue the new calculations of my wrong doing now. He really did not want any more kids, and I wanted one more. We had several arguments and fights over it, but oddly enough there was a reason I wanted another one. I was already pregnant and had no clue. He was angry and miserable and I was thrilled and fulfilled.

Several months later I was clued in that he was misbehaving in inappropriate ways with a few women at work. I was six months pregnant and oblivious to him because, I was so self-absorbed with my pregnancy and twins. It is easy to set your husband aside and make him feel insignificant at our ages, which I had perfected the art of neglect. I was twenty-five and he was twenty-eight. However, by the ripe old age of twenty-eight he should have been making more than minimum wage. I was struggling with my income as well, thirty thousand a year seemed like a substantial enough income back then, but it was definitely lacking. Together we brought in around forty thousand annually.

The turning point for me was when I decided to confide in my only friend, whom I worked with, about my husband’s inappropriate behavior. Her reaction was the strangest expression of concern from a “friend”. She was in complete denial about there being no way that my husband would behave like that with those women, etc. I asked her what she thought I should do, and to this, an answer never came. Why? That twist to come soon. She was way too obsessed with the idea that he would allegedly put his hands on these women. It was bizarre to me. Like, all of a sudden he was her husband and she was going through it instead of me. I just figured that she was trying to keep me sane. I went home on my lunch hour to confront him, and nothing he said felt true. I took it with a grain of salt and ghastly realizing where this was headed.

When I came back to work I told my friend how he denied everything and I did not believe him. It was time to consider moving on and dealing with the repercussions of my family’s disapproval. I decided to take my children to the park after work one day. I figured a long walk and some kiddo time was in order. I decided that this would be the day to make some choices for the future of my family. I really hated that this was going to be on me, and that I may be the person my children blame for not keeping the family together. Would I be able to keep this together, while being miserable, for the children? I knew I could not.

When I got home my husband left for work without the usual debriefing. As strange as that was, I really didn’t care. Let’s face it, my toddlers were enough to make the rest of the world slip away. Being that Christmas had just passed and we were broke and the park was the perfect solution. No Mommy and Me play dates this day, or other mommies giving me their perfect life stories. I was super excited to tell them were going to the park, but when I did my entire world was tossed upside down.

Preparing for my entire life to change.

I asked my girls if they wanted to go to the park, fully expecting the typical toddler reaction. I did not receive that. My toddler began to tell me that they had already been to the park with their dad and my one and only friend. My toddler also let me know that my friend had a new red dress and daddy and friend were kissing at the park. My heart sank and now everything made sense. This friend and co-worker of mine was no friend at all. She was in denial of his mischief because, that would have meant that he was cheating on her too. Well, there is the fun twist for you.

Needless to say the last trimester of my pregnancy was spent trying to determine how to get past this and would it cease long enough to make things work out. I lost so much weight during the last few months that I only gained eight pounds during the pregnancy and my baby was 8lbs. 2oz. Two days before giving birth I decided that staying together for the kids was the worst possible idea, regardless of any family opinions and tradition. The cheating continued and I came to terms with the fact that I could not be with someone who placed no value on our marriage.
I was done.

I separated and later filed for divorce and served him. I told him to take his belongings and leave two days before giving birth to our third child. After our court appearances for a year and a half, I was instructed that leaving Nevada was going to be next to impossible. Thus my life sentence here. I will say that the next eighteen years were less than blissful, until I found the perfect man for me. We are the happiest I can imagine life ever getting, but the road to finding him and having a content family was paved with boulders. I came from a background that a married couple had to stay together for the betterment of the family dynamic and anything else was a detriment to the family. In hind sight, I made the right choice for me and my children. To this day my ex-husband is every bit the same individual he was then, and in some cases he has regressed.

He could have never made me happy, no one could. I learned that I needed to find my happiness and learn to be with someone that could add to my happiness. Seeking someone that will make you happy never works. When you need a man, you lose the ability to want a companion. Staying in a loveless, going nowhere quick marriage, would have been awful for my children. I was alone and single for ten of those eighteen years, married to my second husband for five, and with my current love for three and a half. The ten years I let myself thrive alone I found things out about myself I did not know existed. I allowed myself to get my spirit back, while exerting all of my energy into my four children.

What I had to learn the hard way was, to be successfully contented I needed to be at peace with myself, in order to be happy with someone else. Trying to find someone in the midst of being miserable, hoping that mystical and magical person will bring contentment, was not going to happen. I learned that when I am genuinely happy so too are my children. Staying together for the children is, in my experience, the worst thing I could have done for our family. I am glad I moved forward instead of spending life in the same cycle of doom. From doom and gloom to swoon and spoon!!! This is the way of life for me now, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Blissful and peaceful, I couldn’t ask for a better life.

Janie and Jack Sale on Now
Pink or Blue, Which One's for You?

2 Responses to Staying Together for the Kids

  • I really needed to hear this. I believe it’s important for other people/women (like myself) to hear a successful story of a splitting unhealthy relationship and see it benefit everyone involved, including the children. Thank you for telling your story.

  • you should send the “friend” a thank you card.

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