‘My husband threw his cuff links across the room and said, ‘I want an annulment.’ I spent the first night as his wife alone on a hard hotel couch.’: Ex-couple join forces to co-parent after divorce

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“During college, I met my soulmate and the man of my dreams. We quickly began to ‘build an empire,’ moving yearly for his work promotions as I hustled to try to match his achievements. By the age of 29, we had purchased our second home. Life was always fast-paced with us. It’s what our relationship thrived on, or so I thought.  

In 2015, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The oncologist said I ‘won the lottery of cancer.’ I was told the type of cancer I had is usually seen in 60 years olds. I drove off scared and alone. I arrived home, told my soon-to-be husband, and continued planning for our wedding that was just a few weeks away. 

We had a small but beautiful rooftop party to celebrate our love. We flew off to Jamaica the next morning to spend our first Christmas as a family.  

Everything I remembered about our relationship was as if I lived in a fairytale. Somehow, in the midst of my fairytale, I buried the memory of my wedding night. My husband threw his cuff links across the room and told me he wanted an annulment. I spent the first night as his wife alone on a hard couch in our hotel room. Rather than dealing with the heartbreak, we ignored it.  

See, his family never liked me. I had tattoos, came from a divorced family, didn’t go to church enough, and they thought I only ‘wanted him for his money’ because of our 7-year age difference. What money? We both worked just as hard to build the life we wanted. Whatever the reason, it broke my husband’s heart and I took the emotional abuse from his family.  

Soon after getting married, we relocated for his work—again. After a long talk, we decided we wanted to start a family. I was nervous. Because of my pre-existing cancer, I was told I would most likely miscarry, but still, we chased the fairytale life. 

In February 2018, I was now 23weeks pregnant and on bed rest; a scare left me at high risk for a miscarriage. At 41 weeks, we met our beautiful son Leo. My husband took a week off work. I tried to recover from the 36 hours of labor, but my body just wouldn’t budge. Walking was out of the question because my tailbone was bruised. I spent most of my days alone lying around trying to do my best as I slipped into postpartum depression.

Courtesy of Lucy Gomez

attempted to work at my local yoga studio at 2 months postpartum. I thought it would help my depression. A week in, my husband asked me to quit because our baby wouldn’t stop crying. His work schedule became busier than usual because he was promoted to a larger territory. His travels meant he would be missing our son’s first Halloween, leaving our family Christmas party, and if it wasn’t for our son’s high fever, he would have left New Year’s too. I was so depressed that I didn’t see any of it. My sister called me and said, ‘Have you set boundaries in your marriage?’ I became defensive immediately. ‘What boundaries? We are married!’ 

January 30th, 2019, I asked my husband to go with me to my doctor’s appointment. I was being screened for cancer. He arrived late, met us in a parking lot, and reeked of perfume. After my appointment, he went back to work. 7:00 p.m. that night my world came crashing down. ‘I found someone. I’m in love. She’s pregnant.’ My heart broke in a way I couldn’t comprehend. All those days and nights he willingly chose to be apart from our newborn were for an affair. All the pieces I ignored started to fall together. Two weeks earlier, he purchased a flight for our son and I to visit my sister in Spain, but he didn’t want to join us.  

So, we left for 2 months after hearing the news. I begged. I begged him to visit and begged for us to go to marriage counseling. How could he? He left our fairytale for the woman I just sat next to during his company Christmas dinner. How could a woman rub my pregnant belly and then sleep with him? How could either of them be okay with his absence in his newborn’s life?

Courtesy of Lucy Gomez

I overthought everything I had done wrong. I didn’t cook or clean. I did nothing other than sit around with our newborn. I began to hate myself. If I didn’t have to be on bed rest, have postpartum depression, or struggle to breastfeed maybe he would have stayed. The list was long because I wanted my husband back. Upon our arrival to the U.S., I was served with divorce papers followed by aggressive emails from his lawyer. I was defeated. My heart couldn’t take the heaviness. All I wanted was for him to be a parent. All I wanted was for our son to know his dad because I knew the heartache of not knowing mine.

Courtesy of Lucy Gomez

When Leo’s dad came over, it seemed like a business transaction. He admitted to keeping track of the hours he saw our son…even if the time typically consisted of him taking naps on our floor or on his laptop working. I became a mama bear. I wanted him to want to parent.  

Our first court hearing was the worst. His lawyer painted a picture of what a terrible mother I was. I sat with my sister’s hand in mine as tears rolled down both of our faces. His family was all there, looking at me in a way I was too familiar with. I wanted to hide, run, and yell, ‘Please make it stop.’ I gave everything I had to be the best mother I could, yet it seemed as if it didn’t matter. I never took being a stay-at-home mom for granted, even if it was never the plan. I was the only constant our son had in his short life. I couldn’t possibly leave him too, even if that meant losing everything I had worked so hard for. 

Hearing after hearing, mediation after mediation, my response was always the same. I wanted my ex to be involved in our son’s life. I was self-represented because I had nothing to fight for. I didn’t care about our assets or anything that didn’t include the wellbeing of our son. Our divorce was finalized in February of 2020. Then COVID. What a blessing in disguise it has been for us. This is when we truly started to co-parent. We started to directly communicate instead of through his lawyer. I dropped my ego and admitted I needed help. I couldn’t find diapers at any store in the first month.  

Little by little, we have made huge progress. Leo’s dad comes over for visitation which allows me to run errands during their one on one time. He also spends weekends with his side of the family.

Courtesy of Lucy Gomez

Our son is watching his parents become friends. We are able to laugh and play with our son. We are finally building trust that will last a lifetime. This is not about him or me, this is for our son. We are great parents. Maybe our universes came together, not for our fairytale, but to teach us there is so much more to life than chasing the ‘American dream.’ Maybe we misunderstood what the American dream was all about this whole time. 

Witnessing the bond they share makes my heart full. Leo looks up to his dad. They dance, play, and even ‘work’ together. It has been a long road, but I would do it all over again just to see the way my son’s eyes light up.  

Courtesy of Lucy Gomez
Courtesy of Lucy Gomez

Every day isn’t easy, but we both are willing to put in the work. Tears have been shed, laughs have been shared, and I look forward to continuing to build a healthy co-parenting relationship. Leo deserves every ounce of happiness. As parents, our children are always watching, and we must lead by example. Our hearings are ongoing, but it is us calling the shots when it comes to our son. I am proud of us; this is the greatest empire we have ever built. Two healthy homes for our son.  

There is hope when we let go of the attachment of what ‘should be’ and just let it be. It is okay for things to turn out differently than we imagined or planned for.” 

Courtesy of Lucy Gomez
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