Chris and I were in marriage bliss. For about 14 years. After that, our marriage got… wonky. We were both in the military, had two young kids. Deploying to Afghanistan changed me greatly. I returned from that stint completely anti-social, claustrophobic, moody, jumpy…just irritated. I hate fireworks. I have to be completely knocked out to get a new MRI of my spine. I’m not sure why I changed so much, but I did.
Five months after I returned from Afghanistan, Chris was sent to school for a year and moved to Syracuse, NY. The kids and I stayed in San Antonio. It was hard on me. It was hard on him. It was excruciating for the kids. After his year of school was up, he returned to San Antonio and we were both pretty happy in our jobs until I got promoted and we were promptly moved to Charleston, SC. I did not want to go and Chris didn’t either. It’s not that we were loving life in Texas or anything, it was just the move to Charleston would put us in jobs we didn’t want.
Fast forward, I ended up loving the job at Charleston; Chris didn’t. Then he deployed to
Afghanistan and during that deployment, lost both his mom and his grandmother. It was such a terribly hard time for him and I got to see him so little during that time. I hated that. I wanted to be there for him. (About a year or so later, I realized I had never grieved the loss of my mother-in-law because I was trying so hard to help Chris grieve).
Chris returned to Charleston after his deployment was over and like me, he was a different person. The changes in him were not like what I faced. He wasn’t overly anxious or jump when the windshield wipers came on. That was all me. Chris returned, in my point of view of course, as an ass. I don’t think anyone would have noticed besides me. Now, some years later, I know it’s because he felt he had no control on anything. He was returning from a deployment he was not prepared for and where he lost two very important people. He returned to a job he did not want or like and felt he lacked the leadership skills to manage the careers of 45 people. He was in control of nothing, except at home. He would argue and disagree with me about the littlest of things. He was very “my way or the highway” with me. And after running the household for so much time without him, I was not going to allow him to poison my happiness. I liked work. I liked the area. The kids were happy. Honestly, Chris was miserable and it poisoned us all. The couple who never fought, never argued and seldom disagreed about anything became two bickering, intolerant assholes. It didn’t take long for me to tell him that he needed to stop treating me like crap because our marriage was on the line. I guess by the time he realized how seriously I perceived his behavior, it was too late. I had checked out.
Separation and divorce is a difficult time for everyone, but I must say, we did pretty well.
He moved to an apartment within walking distance from the house. The kids saw us both nearly everyday. Looking back now, I can say the separation was good for us. At least good for me. I think he feels the same way. So much of ourselves was lost over the years and the time apart allowed us to try to regain some of our former selves…remembering who we once were before life changed us.
After Charleston, Chris got a job back in Texas and I followed him there. I didn’t know what kind of job I’d get but I truly believed the kids deserved to have both parents in their lives. Everything was fine. I got a job was okay but not fulfilling. The pay wasn’t good. And San Antonio is not one of my top favorite cities. Not even in the top 100. But I was okay. Chris was okay. Then, about 9 months after we moved to Texas, I got a job offer, a really good one. Much better pay, in an area I knew and liked. Dream job, bad timing. Bad because it would force me to move to Germany. Chris and I talked about this job a lot. He knew it was a perfect fit for me and understood the opportunities that would be available for me, and the kids. I don’t think he ever strongly considered keeping the kids in Texas. He knew the area in Germany, knew the culture, the schools were good, travel opportunities were great…he wanted us to go. So I accepted the job and we filed for divorce.
May 2, 2015, my son’s birthday, I left San Antonio and flew to Germany ready to take advantage of those opportunities. The kids stayed with Chris in Texas so they could finish the school year. That was a tough flight. My son was heartbroken that I was leaving on his birthday, both kids were devastated that Chris and I filed for divorce, Chris just seemed…defeated. I was terrified. But I got to Germany, found a house, got emerged in the new job, and before I knew it, it was mid July and Chris was bringing the kids over to their
new home. Our divorce was final but it didn’t feel like we were divorced. During his visit, we still cohabited like an old married couple. We didn’t bicker anymore. We respected each other’s space while enjoying our time together. It was at that point in July where I wondered, “What the hell have I done? I think I need a do over.”
After Chris left, the kids and I established a routine. School started and the new normalcy set in. Chris came to visit in October and December. Each visit made it more and more clear: we’d made a mistake and shouldn’t have divorced. By the time he visited in March, we knew we were on the road to reconciliation and used the time together to test the waters of coupledom again. Yep, it was gonna work.
Finally, in July 2016, the kids and I flew to San Antonio where Chris and I were married again. Just a small ceremony at the courthouse, with the two of us and the kids, a judge, and a photographer friend. Small but very special ceremony with just the 4-pack.
I have to go back to Germany tomorrow, kids in tow. Chris will move there next month and we will try this family thing out again. I’m so excited! I’m so fortunate to have another chance at this relationship and that our 4-pack will be together again. So the next question is, do we keep July 7th as our anniversary or revert back to December 22nd, when we were first married 18 years ago?