When Times Get Tough - Hold On Tight
Very little REALLY bothers me. I have a bunch of pet-peeves that can have me muttering under my breath all day every day, but very few things REALLY bother me.
One of those things is lying. Having grown up with very untrustworthy male role-models it's been hard for me to trust men in general - with one exception... my husband.
Up until a few years ago.
I thought he was just about perfect in every way (messy habits aside, of course). But when everything changed after my Mom died, some things came to light that truly rocked my foundations in a way that I’m not sure I ever really recovered from. I lost my faith in the one man I had trusted implicitly.
I found out that he had deliberately decieved me in something that meant a lot to me at the time. Several years before, I went through a long period of wanting to move to a different country when my sons were very little. Even though I knew my husband would never want to leave the country and I really didn’t want to make him do something that I had suffered through myself (moving to the UK when I was a teenager), it got so bad that eventually he agreed… Provided we bought a house first so we’d have equity to work with.
Considering our financial situation, I had no choice but to make do with the hope that that promise provided me. I held onto that hope and dream for many years - it was a lifeline to me that soothed me during many a rough day; it was one thing I could think about so I could cope with whatever I was facing, no matter what it was.
Then my mother died, and all our debts came out that I had no idea about - we knew we were going to use the inheritance to buy our first house and our credit score was badly affected. Buying a house was NOT the fun experience we always dreamed it would be; we'd been told originally we could potentially buy the house we'd been renting for the previous 7years, only to be told we "must've not received the email" telling us otherwise since, and we had to leave our home. We all felt very unsettled.
Our children were unhappy at school and the neck of woods we’d ended up in was rough to say the least. In the 13 months we lived there, we had no less than 6 ambulances in our little cul-de-sac and 1 police arrest. We were flanked by drug addicts and dealers and crazy people, and the only saving grace was the fact that the woods were a 2 minute walk away. None of us felt safe there.
But I had my husband, and despite the financial mess we were in, I knew he did it because we didn't have enough money to get through the months, not because he was out every night drinking with his buddies. I still saw him as my rock.
But then one night, in the midst of all of it, he offhandedly commented that he never intended to actually leave the country - that he “knew” I’d eventually change my mind and decide to stay.
Having not long before that lost my Mom, and having been forced to leave a home we loved, and feeling like my whole world was shaken to the core as it WAS, that comment felt like he’d just snipped through the little string of that life-line, sending me falling into an dark abyss of sheer incredulity... and it shifted my entire feeling about him.
I lost my faith and my trust in my man. I felt like I’d been kept prisoner in such a way that I never even realised I was a prisoner. Like the Truman show, just much less convenient or comfortable. It's not the only time I felt that way since then, but thankfully I've always trusted my instincts to not assume the worst. I've always known to my core that he is a good man, despite occasional doubts about his intentions.
It took a lot to get us all through that time and into a much better house in a much better area, even though it's still not ideal for all of us. As I suspected before we moved, we took our problems with us. Now, we just had more space to spread out (and more house for me to clean).
And then a year later I was told we had more debt. And a year after that, same again.
And each time he “came out” about more debt, he swore he would never do it again, that what he’d told me about was everything and he promised to keep me in the loop so I’d never have to worry about it again. I’d remind myself that trusting others makes them show up for you, and let him keep the reins even though I had huge doubts.
But somehow - even though I really believed we’d turned a corner, it happened again recently. And it had an interesting effect of crystallizing my resolve into something I’d never experienced before. I realised that I’d been far too “understanding” of behaviour that was just no longer acceptable. Through all of it, I knew he was trying very hard to sort things out and get it under control, but somehow, he just never quite arrived at his destination. There are several reasons for this, I believe:
Payday loans are vicious things - once you take one out, unless you are able to completely clear it the next month, you are sucked into a black-hole of debt that is nearly impossible to get out of. The extreme interest rates make sure of that.
Because of the payday loans we couldn’t even remortgage the house to clear and consolidate it because it was the “wrong kind of debt”.
The worse things got and the worse he felt, the more he drank and smoked (and anyone who lives and smokes in the UK now will tell you just how incredibly expensive a habit that is) and thereby the more expensive our daily lives became.
The price of everything kept going up and his income didn’t track with it.
Having the kids at home meant I couldn’t get a job (not without buying a second car and trying to find something that fit around his very awkward shift-pattern).
He had developed a habit of hiding things that he hoped he could sort out without anyone finding out, because he desperately feared the judgement of others.
Like I said, very understandable. The trouble was, he didn't seem to realise that while it was understandable, didn't mean the way he went about it was acceptable. He never really "got" just how much of an effect it was having on me and my connection to him, even though I tried to explain it.
And it wasn’t like he was doing any of it on purpose - to the contrary, he was trying to deal with it all by himself because I’d made it clear that I couldn’t deal with it a long time before. When I handed the finances over to him in the first place, not long after our daughter was born nearly a decade ago, it was precisely because the stress of it and taking care of 3 kids under 5 was just too much. And he never quite got past that thought; even after I told him I wanted to help and sort it out in whatever way I could (many times) since my mother died.
So, long story short(ened), it really wasn’t the money that was my issue. I could handle being broke. What I couldn’t handle was having my husband lying to me and breaking off the little tendrils of trust that started re-forming after each “revelation”. I just love him so much that I couldn’t allow myself to see that when it came to money my husband had become a compulsive liar, and that he was not going to change his ways without a VERY compelling reason to do so. It was just too tempting to keep it under wraps and avoid the fallout.
So even though he’d done so much work behind the scenes to clear and consolidate our debts so that we could survive month-by-month more easily and without needing any more payday loans - he kept me in the dark expressly against my will. He knew how I felt about lying and trust, and yet he kept lying to me and breaking my trust.
And I just couldn’t do it again. I couldn’t go around the same old track only to end up back at that point again. I guess, being in an 11 Universal Year (2+0+1+8=11) and in our 11th year of marriage (and the number 11 is the number of balance in numerology, among other attributes) it’s no small wonder that it’s at this point in our lives I was just no longer willing to put up with the lack of balance in our relationship.
I knew I was far from blameless, mostly because I just didn't want to believe it was happening again, and couldn't bring myself to confront him and face the inevitable shit spiral. I am the first one to admit my faults that aided the whole situation, but I just couldn’t give him my trust again, not without serious assurances and physical evidence - which I knew he wouldn't give me unless he had no choice. I had to be the one to hold him accountable and force his hand.
So, I did the only thing I could think of. The very last resort.
I gave him a contract and an ultimatum - sign it or leave.
It was literally the most painful thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t want to kick him out. I couldn’t bear the thought of sleeping without him ever again. Or how I’d be able to be there for my children with a great big gaping hole in my chest, let alone how on Earth I’d actually tell them.
It was awful.
I had to stand my ground and be prepared to deal with it if he chose not to sign it, and he had to sit there and listen to me telling him how I’d lost all faith in his ability to overcome his behaviour by himself - despite all the work he’d done to try and fix his mistakes, how hard he'd been working for us, his family. I had to strip away his defences (and if you know astrology, you know what crabs are like…) and he had to endure it all, feeling totally indignant against my arguments.
He had to read and sign a contract drawn up by his WIFE, that made his life a lot harder to begin with (showing me the paperwork he’d always promised to provide but didn’t; merging all his accounts into our joint one so I could keep tabs on it etc). It completely emasculated a man who has a lot of pride.
I had to deal with being the kind of person who I am not - I had to stay on his case and make him do things I knew he didn’t want to do. I had to be cruel to hopefully help him break a cycle that had been going on since he got his first paycheck. Had to deal with the fights that came up out of the blue afterwards, as emotions and anger came up that had been suppressed for so long.
Through it all, we discovered something that is far more valuable than anything I can think of. We discovered that neither of us were willing to give up on each other - we'd bother rather face the sword, than run. We may have difficult financial issues to overcome that were caused by a complete breakdown in the balance of our relationship, but through it, we discovered that our love for each other was much stronger than we ever realised. And we’d been through many pretty tough times before that….
I knew then that no matter what happens between us, we’d find a way. I know we’ll never have to deal with infidelity - neither of us are like that in any way - but for all the other things that could come our way, this was surely one of THE most difficult… and we're making it through, stronger and more balanced in our relationship for it. I’m not sure I can say he’s appreciative of it just yet… But each small accomplishment, each little improvement, each decision made TOGETHER brings us closer to the balance we've been needing for so long.
So, the moral of a very long story is simply this: no matter what you are facing, if you love each other, hold on tight to that love. Speak from your heart and speak your truth - calmly and with as little anger and judgement as possible (unless he needs to see it for you to honour your truth - and then try your best to speak from the "I feel" perspective, not the "You did" perspective - it gets you nowhere. Ask me how I know this...)
Tell him why you love him and what he does that you hate. Make the distinction between why you love HIM and why you hate what he DOES - he needs to know it’s his behaviour you don’t like, not HIM as a person.
If you love him - and you wouldn’t have put up with him for this long if you don’t - you owe it to yourself to give the relationship every possible chance for survival. Even if that means you have to temporarily make life much harder for both of you. Because in doing so, you are proving that you are willing to do whatever it takes to save your marriage. And not many men can walk away from that kind of woman.
PS: it should go without saying but if you want to reach out, you are more than welcome to email me. Big hugs x x