‘I spent nearly 12 years with a man I never should’ve married. He never touched me. We fought about my weight. I was immune to anything but pain. And then I met Adam.’

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“I spent nearly 12 years with a man I probably never should’ve married. He never physically hurt me, but he left me feeling very unloved and undesired. I thought if I just loved harder, tried more, and focused on the positive, it would get better. But it never did. He never touched me. He always worked late. We fought about my weight, about my goals and aspirations, and about money. I can’t tell you how many nights I cried myself to sleep. I finally found the strength to leave in March of 2016.

That was single-handedly the most difficult decision I have ever made. Right, wrong, or otherwise, hurting someone I had spent so much of my life trying to love nearly destroyed me. On top of that, I felt like everything I had ever believed in was a lie. There’s a bit of time there where I honestly don’t recognize myself. I hurt people I loved and made terrible choices. I was immune to anything but pain. Thankfully that time period was short-lived. I joined Tinder in May, and I remember talking to a friend about my search. He asked me what my hurry was, and why I didn’t want to spend some time alone after such a long relationship. While it may be difficult for others to understand, I had felt more alone in the last three years of my marriage than I ever could have explained. I was ready for a real relationship.

Courtesy of Tia Doyle

Adam messaged me on Mother’s Day. He was so refreshing! He had a great sense of humor, made me smile, and talked like a sweet southern boy. He was on midnight shifts though, so his schedule was difficult to work around. It took three weeks before we were able to meet for our first date. He took me to dinner and was telling me all about his family. He’s one of nine kids, and it was hard to keep up with. I ended up drawing his family tree on a napkin to help myself stay organized. We continued talking, and I learned more and more about him, his past, and who he is today. While he and I came from very different walks of life, I felt more connected to him than I’ve ever felt to anyone. He was also divorced, and neither of us wanted anything to do with marriage again. The way we saw it, our marriages kept us in awful relationships because we didn’t want to go through with divorce. I wanted to be in a relationship where the other person truly wanted to be there, and if they ever found that they were no longer interested, I wanted them to be able to leave freely.

Courtesy of Tia Doyle

Throughout the summer, my ex continued to try to get me to work things out with him, and my guilt continued to press on my heart. As much as I was falling for Adam, I still struggled with the idea of giving up on my marriage. More than anything, I felt like I was destroying my faith by letting go of my vows.  Several people helped me through these feelings. One of them told me, ‘There is absolutely nothing you can do that will make God love you any more or any less than He already does. Don’t spend your life resenting your faith. Do what you need to do to find happiness.’ My family and friends were huge supports, and reminded me of all the reasons I was making the right decision. I had a running list on my phone that I would go back to whenever I was feeling weak. And then there was Adam. When I told him I was struggling and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, he encouraged me to make the best decision for me. He said he would support me no matter what, and that he understood wanting to fight for my marriage. He told me to take all the time I needed, and he wouldn’t stand in my way. I broke down and told my ex I’d try counseling with him. Immediately after agreeing, I started crying and couldn’t stop. The thought of letting Adam go broke my heart more than anything else. I prayed and prayed and prayed, and I went to that counseling session with teary eyes and a heavy heart. Then the counselor did something that I never expected: he gave me permission to choose to leave. He said that we ultimately have to decide what’s best for us, and not make the decision for the other person, because that’s how it would play out in the end anyway, whether it happened today, next week, or in fifteen years.

I finally found the peace I needed, and I let myself leave for good. Our divorce was finalized in late November. Adam and I continued dating and seeing each other when we could. His work schedule continued to be demanding, but he came to visit me often and vice versa. When my lease was up in April, I moved in with him. By May, we were talking about kids. The hardest part of his divorce was losing his step-son, and I had been wanting children for 10 years at that point. I knew that even if we didn’t stay together, Adam would be an incredible father, and I was beyond ready to be a mother.

Courtesy of Tia Doyle

I landed my dream job as a principal at an elementary school in Flint, Michigan, in June. My commute was an hour and a half each way. I ended up buying a house 30 minutes from work in October. We found out we were pregnant in November, and I used the napkin from our first date to tell him! (I added to the family tree…)

Joanna Galant Photography

In May, we purchased a new car to accommodate our growing family, and we had our beautiful, perfect little girl in August. Adam went out of his way to do everything he could to help me from developing postpartum depression. Everything was falling into place, and I was watching God’s plan unfold. And then, just four days before my maternity leave ended, I found out I was being laid off. The news crushed me.

Courtesy of Tia Doyle
Jessi Rogers Photography
Jessi Rogers Photography

Life changed drastically, but the one thing that remained a constant in my world was Adam. He never wavered. He continued to show me love and support, despite our world turning upside down. He worked 12-hour shifts with only every other weekend off to support us. He continued being his incredible self. He’s the kind of man who will get me a Slurpee at the gas station without me asking, or randomly bring home a dozen roses and a card or a pack of my favorite Oreos. Anytime he leaves the room, he asks if I need anything. He tells me, ‘Goodnight, beautiful,’ before I go to sleep and always acknowledges the silly things I tag him in on Facebook. He sends me random uplifting texts, and always, always responds to me. He supports my wildest dreams, like opening up a new school and investing in my photography business, while simultaneously raising two babies (we’re due with number two in July!).

Courtesy of Tia Doyle

He cleans and does laundry, and he is an excellent cook! But above all, he loves me, and he loves our family, with every ounce of his being. Today, he drove an hour commute each way, after working midnights – he left for work at 9:45 last night, after only getting a 2-hour nap because I was gone all day, and he had our little girl. He came home at 8 a.m. this morning, kissed me good morning, kissed my pregnant belly and got our baby girl up so I could sleep a bit longer. I woke up two hours later to a homemade omelet waiting for me, and he was singing our baby girl to sleep with country music.

Ladies, there are amazing men in this world. Stop putting up with the B.S. and find a partner who loves and respects you, one who will always put you and your family first. You deserve it!

Courtesy of Tia Doyle

The greatest gift in the world is having a true partner by your side. No matter what life throws our way, I know that God brought this man into my world to be my rock. If I had known that love like this existed, I never would have settled for anything else. I can only hope that one day every woman will find their own Adam.”

Jessi Rogers Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tia Doyle, 29, of Fenton, Michigan. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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